Physics in the Collaboratory

As a part of the chemistry department, Clarke’s undergraduate physics courses and general educational courses, Astronomy, Earth Science and Physical Science, serve as service components for many majors including biochemistry, nursing, education, physical therapy and athletic training among others.  Use of our newly redesigned lecture/laboratory classroom incorporating tablet PC technology has changed the learning environment to a great extent bringing with it more collaboration, interaction and group-centered learning.

The tablet PCs are being used in our introductory physics courses and general education courses for classroom  projects including live video capture incorporating Vernier measurement software, digital cameras and YouTube, interactive lectures using DyKnow interactive classroom software and in-depth physics laboratories with various laboratory probes to examine related physical principles.

Personal Experience by Jason Stecklein

It is difficult to visualize and put numbers to objects in motion.  But, when one can, it is very profound and interesting especially in connection with the learning of principles behind the projectile motion. Starting with Fall of 2008, we began to analyze motions of real objects using digital cameras and YouTube in our redesigned collaboratory space (view videos below).

The use of live video capture, inside and outside of the collaboratory, has aided students in visualizing complex and seemingly incomprehensible motions including free-fall, curved and accelerated motions.  Video is taken with a digital camera, downloaded onto a tablet PC, shared via YouTube and finally analyzed with special software on our tablet PC’s.  Using tablet PC’s enables students to film and analyze motions outside of the classroom and thus enlarge and connect what has been done in the classroom to various physical situations.  Some examples are:

These videos are easily sharable via YouTube and software on our tablets enabling us to analyze not only our videos, but any YouTube video!  With this analysis process has come a broader and more thorough understanding of the principles of motional physics along with, of course, a certain amount of serendipitous moments of student discovery.

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