This is a Java applet that simulates the action of a ripple tank. There are a large number of predefined scenarios Examples including single and multiple sources, single and double slits, lens action, and the Doppler effect. Users can also create their own custom set-ups.
Type of Material:
Browser must have the Java plug-in installed.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To understand the physics of wave progation.
Target Student Population:
High school and undergraduates.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The author has provided a large number of predefined experiments. These include standard scenarios (e.g. single and multiple sources, single and double slits, Doppler effect for a moving source) as well as some not so common ones (e.g. the Doppler effect from a moving reflector).
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Since it covers such a wide variety of topics, it can be very effective as a classroom demo. The user controls allow a great deal of customization so that the effects of varying particular parameters (e.g. slit width and source frequency) can be easily shown.
Although the first phased array scenario is straightforward and clear, the other two are somewhat obscure because the sources generating the wave are outside the viewing window. Some of the acoustic mode setups are also very obscure.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Once mastered, the controls provided give the user a great deal of flexibility in setting system parameters. Also, the author is to be commended for providing a way to save a custom arrangement in spite of the limitations imposed on applets' ability to access a user's computer.
Some of the control labels aren't very informative about the action of the control. Although the user can change the index of refraction of the media, the method is a little clunky. The mouse must be dragged over each pixel in the medium where the change is to occur. An option to automatically fill a selected region would be very helpful.
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