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Peer Review

The Vector Cross Product



Overall Rating:

4.33 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: May 06, 2001 by Mathematics
Overview: This applet is used to demonstrate some of the properties of vector cross product. Given two vectors a, b in the same plane, the cross product vector is produced. One can drag the vectors by their tip to change them. It includes a short tutorial and a list of questions about the vector cross product for students to answer.
Learning Goals: To demonstrate some basic properties of vector cross product.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate Multivariable Calculus students. Could be used as supplemental material for more advanced classes.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Calculus
Type of Material: Curricular Material (Lecture/Demo or Homework Assignment) based on a Java applet (Scriptable)
Technical Requirements: Requires a "JAVA-enabled" web browser

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Masterfully done. Very clear display of two vectors being cross-multiplied and their product. There is a tab displaying the actual angle between two vectors. The applet itself is attractive and informative. There is a button that allows user to get numerical values for magnitudes of all 3 vectors. There is an extended explanation of the user actions as well as the background material (vector cross product).
Concerns: Two vectors are always shown lying in the same plane. It may be helpful to be able to turn the plane off.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Includes a list of things "to see and to do". These are questions that help students understand the concept of the vector cross product. There is a paragraph explaining how to find the magnitude of the result of a vector cross product as well as the right hand rule for the direction of this vector.
This Applet would be an excellent classroom demo tool (for example in a Calculus course) for introducing the cross product of vectors. Instructors can use it to illustrate textbook examples and homework assignments.
Concerns: More interesting questions about the vector cross product can be explored using this excellent tool.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Clear, easy to understand and use interface and controls for displaying the vector cross product. This is a very straightforward applet to use. The ability to see numerical info and the instructions on how to use the applet are a great benefit. The usability for students of this applet is excellent.
Concerns: A simple way to print different plots might be useful.