In each of the problems students must actually interact with the simulation to
investigate both qualitative and quantitative concepts. In the first
simulation qualitative aspects of refraction and total internal reflection are
clearly displayed. In simulation two one can demonstrate what is meant by focal
position. The third simulation displays imaging using a two lens system. The
ripple tank gives a good visualization of the interference phenomenon.
The ripple tank should have more discussion about what information is being
displayed (amplitude, not time averaged intensity) and how that relates to the
equations typically used to discuss double slit interference. This is a
confusing subject for students. There are concerns over the intended use of
the ripple tank. The methods that can be used to determine the answer to the
question seem to have problems. First,
precise measurements are difficult so
answers will be rough approximations at best. Second is the method. One
possible solution is to use d*sin(angle) along the first order fringe, assume
this is a straight line and use point slope method to get the angle, and work
back the source separation. This would work IF AND ONLY IF one is far away so
that first order fringes lie along a straight line. This demo is not far from
sources! A second method is to work with pythagorian theorem to solve for slit
separation, which seems too involved for introductory course students.
Each problem in this grouping is an excellent example of how physlets can be
used to promote active learning. Students must make "measurements" from the
computer screen. More importantly, they must leverage their understanding of
the underlying concepts to create a measurement strategy.
Students that understand how to find and read the javascript source can examine
this to find the answers.
For the most part, the applet controls and readouts are intuitive. Identifying
which elements are adjustable and how best to adjust them is part of the
discovery process.
For example problem 1, the transmitted beam cannot be adjusted very close to an
angle of 90 degrees, and this may confuse students.
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