Teaching with Physlets:  Examples from Optics       


Melissa Dancy, Wolfgang Christian, and Mario Belloni

The Physics Teacher, Fall 2002

The following applets are discussed in The Physics Teacher paper.  You can view them by selecting the links.  You can download all problems and the necessary classes folder by clicking here

Find the Focal Length of the Mirror (Figures 1 and 2)

What is behind each curtain? (Figure 3)

Is the eye normal, nearsighted, or farsighted? (Figures 4 and 5)

What is the index of refraction of the lens? (Figure 6)

Ripple Tank Demonstration (Figure 7)


A sampling of other Physlet-based optics material is below.  A full set of materials, spanning the entire introductory curriculum (including the full set of optics material), will be available as The Physlet Workbook from Prentice Hall in the Summer of 2003.


EM Waves - Oscillating Charge

Lenses and Mirrors - A Virtual Optics Bench

Applications - Demonstration of the Human Eye

Interference - Thin Films

Polarization - Polarization Exploration


Solutions are available by e-mailing Melissa Dancy (medancy@davidson.edu). 


If you are interested in obtaining more Physlet-based problems, questions and demonstrations there are several sources.  These sources are all linked off the main Physlet website.

The Physlet Workbook - The Physlet Workbook contains a CD of ready to run curricular materials covering all topics in introductory level physics.  The Physlet based material can be accessed by students without having to install the files on a computer eliminating many technical difficulties.  The Workbook represents the latest curricular developments.  It will be available from Prentice Hall in the Summer of 2003.  If you are interested in being a beta tester for the project contact Wolfgang Christian. (wochristian@davidson.edu)

The Physlets Book - The Physlets Book is published by Prentice Hall and contains hundreds of problems and questions covering most of introductory level physics.  The book also provides details on the technical aspects of Physlets and gives an introduction to the process of scripting (writing) your own problems.  You can access the problems contained on the CD that accompanies the book on the Physlets book website.

The Physlet Resource site - This site contains numerous problems and questions written by non-Davidson College folks.  It is updated twice a year to reflect our most recent AAPT workshop.

AAPT Workshops - Come to one of our workshops at the American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting.  Workshop participants will receive additional curriculum.

Textbooks - Physlet Problems are available on the following Prentice Hall Companion Websites. Physics: Principles with Applications by Douglas Giancoli and Physics for Scientists and Engineer by Douglas Giancoli.



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