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Peer Review

XVA - Kinematic Plots of Motion



Overall Numeric Rating:

3 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 3 stars
Reviewed: Feb 20, 2003 by Physics
Overview: This applet simultaneously plots position, velocity, and acceleration graphs along with a simple animation of one dimensional motion. The user can set the initial position and velocity, and a constant value for the acceleration within a range of values.
Type of Material: Java applet simulation
Recommended Uses: Lecture/Demo or Tutorial
Technical Requirements: If you switch between windows, or minimize the window, any graphs that were plotted disappear (performing the Clear function).

Only sometimes, but frequently and under conditions not understood by the reviewer, if the user changes the initial position of the object, the single object in the animation turns into two objects, one which does not move at all (and which can be ignored).

Identify Major Learning Goals: To help students qualitatively understand graphical representations of x, v, and a for one dimensional motion with constant acceleration, and to understand the relationships among the kinematics variables.
Target Student Population: High School or Lower Level Undergraduate
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Knowledge of 1D kinematic equations.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: For a variety of initial conditions, the user can plot displacement, velocity and acceleration vs. time simultaneously, and can then compare those graphs to graphs with different initial conditions. This applet is a very useful tool for a quick comparison of these sorts.

The applet is simple to understand and works well. The tutorial on using the applet is well done, though hardly necessary.

Concerns: The applet is rather limited in scope.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The simultaneous display of the three graphs and the simulated motion should be effective in helping students relate the kinematics variables to each other and to actual motion.

The ability to quickly plot multiple graphs for different kinds of motion without erasing the last is useful for comparisons.

Concerns: Without an accompanying assignment, this material is not suited for homework.

The fact that all plotted curves use the same color (white) makes it difficult to distinguish between multiple runs displayed on the same graph, and more problematically, that a new curve is being plotted directly over one that is already there. For example, the fact that changing only the initial position does not change the velocity would be more obvious if the new velocity curve were plotted with a different color.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: While this applet is pretty intuitive and easy to use, it helps to read the instructions (by clicking "Help"). The instructions are clear and concise and help to clarify most any question.
Concerns: It is a little bit hard to distinguish the separate graphing areas from each other, although they are different colors; they are separated by lines which look just like the axes.

The instructions are incorrect: the maximum x0, v0 and a0 are 90, 9 and 1.8 rather than 100, 10 and 2.

The sliders make it difficult, sometimes, to set a particular initial value.

The bright backgrounds of the graphs are distracting.

Use of the item beyond lecture/demo requires the instructor to supply assignments or other written material.