In a recent paper in this journal we presented work on the creation and use of Physlet-based exercises to teach physical and wave optics. Since then we have developed ready-to-run exercises for introductory physics and have developed Physlet-based exercises for more advanced topics such as quantum mechanics. In this paper we describe the materials we have created to aid in the teaching and learning of introductory special relativity. There are many reasons to focus on special relativity. Special relativity is the first topic presented in the modern physics section of introductory physics courses and in the sophomore-level modern physics course. It is full of (apparent) paradoxes and, like quantum mechanics, is one of the intriguing theories that continues to captivate students’ interest in physics. In addition, because special relativity focuses on abstract concepts, the visualization that Physlet-based material provides is especially valuable.
Motivation and References