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Logo for Physlets
Educational physics applets designed to be scripted in JavaScript for use in quizzes, homework problems, and Just in Time Teaching activities. Includes applets that can be used in a wide range of classes and at different levels.
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Material Type: Collection
Technical Format: Java Applet
CAUTION: Java Applets may not run on all browsers
Date Added to MERLOT: March 14, 1998
Date Modified in MERLOT: February 14, 2017
Submitter: Bethany Gross


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Primary Audience: High School, College General Ed
Mobile Compatibility: Not specified at this time
Technical Requirements: Requires a browser that allows communication between Javascript and Java applets. Will work on Macs with OS 10.3 and the Safari browser.
Language: English
Material Version: 3 and 4
Cost Involved: no
Source Code Available: no
Accessibility Information Available: no
Creative Commons: unsure


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Avatar for Sam Luu
7 years ago

Sam Luu (Student)

Very nice! The various java animations enabled me to better understand many of the topics covered in physics. Nice doppler effect animation!

Technical Remarks:

This site was tested using Mac OS X, I just happen to be using Tiger (OS 10.4) right now, so the compatibility was seamless.
Time spent reviewing site: 15 minutes

Avatar for Chuck Bennett
16 years ago

Chuck Bennett (Faculty)

Physlets are small, versatile building blocks that can be controlled by JavaScripts. 
Individual Physlets can intercommunicate; for example, the Animator4 physlet can
display motion as the DataGraph4 physlet plots it. The details of how this
occurs are controlled by your scripts, and thus may be completely customized
according to your pedagogical goals.

More importantly, Phylets allow you to go beyond the typical Java simulation
by creating applications that require active participation from the
student.  Students can be asked to analyze motion using parameters that
must be inferred from "measurements" taken from the computer

The authors have recently published a
that provides a wealth of tutorial and pedagogical information.

Technical Remarks:

A Physlet only does what your scripts tell it to do. Therefore the usability
and effectiveness a particular Physlet application has much more to do with the
associated scripts than with any particular Physlet. 

Getting started with your first Physlet application can be a bit
daunting.  The very best approach is to copy the source (just right-click
on the browser screen) from an application you want to use. You can
download the java archives (jar files) if you want to host the application on
your server.

Most folks with just a bit of programming background will find it easy to modify
existing scripts to produce customized applications.  The Physlet book and
the Physlet website have tons of example script to start with.

Avatar for John Walkup
17 years ago

John Walkup (Staff)

My first comment was a little unfair, as I did not appreciate the utility of this site for physics educators on my first visit. Rather than being a mere tutorial on applets as I first described, this site contains very useful resources for those that want to incorporate physics-related applets into their curriculum.