Virtual Reality Physics

A project of the OSU PERG

Example Curriculum

Our simulations have been tested at Ohio State in several small-scale studies and were implemented for a large-scale test in our introductory Calculus-based physics sequence in the spring of 2004.

We have used the simulations as lecture demonstrations, as supplements to lab experiences, and on their own as the only source of instruction. Although they are flexible and can be used in many environments, it is our belief that the most natural place for the simulations is in physics labs.

In lab, they can be used as abstractions of common lab equipment such as low-friction carts and tracks. For example, it is easy to achieve uniform motion with any desired velocity in the simulation, but options for doing the same with real equipment are problematic (fan carts at terminal velocity are complex and not precisely adjustable, and cars with motorized wheels can't be easily nudged by external forces because of their gearing). Also, the friction between simulated objects and the ground can be adjusted far more precisely than that of real objects, or even turned off completely.

Below are some of the modules and labs we have used with the simulations. These modules have not been tested rigorously and should not be seen as "the" curriculum with which to use our simulations. They are provided primarily as examples of some of the activities we have asked students to perform.