Friday, December 16, 2011

Davidson College Brown professor taking physics off the page

Davidson professor taking physics off the page! by Katie Orlando

Great News again!

Just wanted to add that many of the computer models on my blog is certainly made this way, I see many useful models suited for the learning of physics in my own syllabus and context and i adapt / change them, like a online Wikipedia! :)

This reporter Katie Orlando definitely got it right! awesome news reporting.

I think a 2 cars model could be referring to something like this? This are not yet of the OSP website but available on the NTNU Java Virtual Lab. Ejs Open source Displacement & Velocity time graph for area & dx/dt java applet or from

designing their own molecular motion model could be something like this one?  Ejs Open Source Ideal Gas Model based on Kinetic Theory of Gas

I definitely agree that as the "number of inquisitive minds collaborating on this widely accessible library, it will continue to improve and demonstrate a wider range of physical phenomenon" expressed in these many computer models. I have be an active and inquisitive mind since 2007 and the potential of OSP is limited by the a need for very strong TPACK teachers, with the technology knowledge to be able to improve the computer models.

The later is on Tracker, another awesome tool by Open Source Physics folks!

article is from
DAVIDSON – Students across the world don’t have to learn physics from static pictures anymore.
Science Magazine honored Davidson College Brown Professor of Physics Wolfgang Christian and his collaborators with the monthly SPORE (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education) prize in its November issue for Open Source Physics, a digital library of physics models, from two-dimensional motion to quantum approximation techniques.
Francisco Esquembre, associate professor of Mathematics at the University of Murcia, Spain and Christian created about half the simulations in the library, with the rest created by contributors. ComPADRE Digital Library Technical Director Lyle Barbato runs the site’s library programming.
Christian and his colleagues created this digital library to fill a void that flat images and verbal descriptions of physical concepts leave.
“The world is dynamic,” Christian said. “It moves. Sometimes the motion is real, such as when you throw a baseball. Sometimes the motion is more abstract; it’s some mathematical idea that’s evolving in some way. Maybe it’s evolving in time, but it could be evolving in other ways, such as statistically or probabilistically. But by actually seeing that evolution, you can understand better what’s going on in the model than just simply looking at a picture.”
But with Open Source Physics, students aren’t even just looking at models; they’re creating them. Anyone with an interest can update, change, correct or add to the open source model, similar to online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Students can follow this cradle-to-grave teaching tool from watching two cars driving down a straight road to designing their own molecular motion model.
“Eventually, you hope that some become curious about the inner workings of the model,” Christian said.
As understanding grows, simple tools allow students to manipulate certain aspects of a situation, like speed, location or number of particles. They can change one factor and analyze the output. From there, easy java simulations allow programming novices to create their own models.
Digitally modeling concepts physicists do understand allows them to discover new information and explain formerly mysterious phenomena.
Users with basic programming knowledge can also fix glitches in existing models. A simulation of a boy playing with a yoyo in a glass-walled elevator only has the yoyo going in one direction. The yoyo falls below the floor of the elevator and leaves through the ceiling when it goes up. Any user could edit the source code to fix this incongruence. With an unlimited number of inquisitive minds collaborating on this widely accessible library, it will continue to improve and demonstrate a wider range of physical phenomenon.
Students can upload a video into the tracker video-modeling tool of an accelerating car, a flying bottle rocket, an ocean wave or any other visible motion.
“You record the position of the object and the time. And by clicking repeatedly, you get a whole time series of data that is then actually marked on the video, and then you can analyze the motion of the object,” Christian said. “It’s a beautiful and very inexpensive way to begin to do computer modeling and to begin to do analysis using computers of natural phenomenon.”
Interested? Visit