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The use of virtual laboratories has the potential to change physics education. These low-cost, interactive computer activities interest students, allow for easy setup, and give educators a way to teach laboratory based online classes. This study investigated whether virtual laboratories could replace traditional hands-on laboratories and whether students could retain the same long-term knowledge in virtual laboratories as compared to hands-on laboratories. This study is a quantitative quasi-experiment that used a multiple posttest design to determine if students using virtual laboratories would retain the same knowledge as students who performed hands-on laboratories after 9 weeks. The study was composed of 336 students from 14 school districts. Students had their performances on the laboratories and their retention of the laboratories compared to a series of factors that might have affected their retention using a pretest and two posttests, which were compared using a t test. The results showed no significant difference in short-term learning between the hands-on laboratory groups and virtual laboratory groups. There was, however, a significant difference (p = .005) between the groups in long-term retention; students in the hands-on laboratory groups retained more information than those in the virtual laboratory groups. These results suggest that long-term learning is enhanced when a laboratory contains a hands-on component. Finally, the results showed that both groups of students felt their particular laboratory style was superior to the alternative method. The findings of this study can be used to improve the integration of virtual laboratories into science curriculum.
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As new scientific challenges demand more comprehensive and multidisciplinary investigations, laboratory experiments are not expected to become simpler and/or faster. Experimental investigation is an indispensable element of scientific inquiry and must play a central role in the way current and future generations of scientist make decisions. To turn the complexity of laboratory work (and that of rocks!) into dexterity, engagement, and expanded learning opportunities, we are building an interactive, virtual laboratory reproducing in form and function the Stanford Rock Physics Laboratory, at Stanford University. The objective is to combine lectures on laboratory techniques and an online repository of visualized experiments consisting of interactive, 3-D renderings of equipment used to measure properties central to the study of rock physics (e.g., how to saturate rocks, how to measure porosity, permeability, and elastic wave velocity). We use a game creation system together with 3-D computer graphics, and a narrative voice to guide the user through the different phases of the experimental protocol. The main advantage gained in employing computer graphics over video footage is that students can virtually open the instrument, single out its components, and assemble it. Most importantly, it helps describe the processes occurring within the rock. These latter cannot be tracked while simply recording the physical experiment, but computer animation can efficiently illustrate what happens inside rock samples (e.g., describing acoustic waves, and/or fluid flow through a porous rock under pressure within an opaque core-holder - Figure 1). The repository of visualized experiments will complement lectures on laboratory techniques and constitute an on-line course offered through the EdX platform at Stanford. This will provide a virtual laboratory for anyone, anywhere to facilitate teaching/learning of introductory laboratory classes in Geophysics and expand the number of courses
The Scientific Assistant Virtual Laboratory (SAVL) is a scientific discovery environment, an interactive simulated virtual laboratory, for learning physics and mathematics. The purpose of this computer-assisted intervention is to improve middle and high school student interest, insight and scores in physics and mathematics. SAVL develops scientific and mathematical imagination in a visual, symbolic, and experimental simulation environment. It directly addresses the issues of scientific and technological competency by providing critical thinking training through integrated modules. This on-going research provides a virtual laboratory environment in which the student directs the building of the experiment rather than observing a packaged simulation. SAVL: * Engages the persistent interest of young minds in physics and math by visually linking simulation objects and events with mathematical relations. * Teaches integrated concepts by the hands-on exploration and focused visualization of classic physics experiments within software. * Systematically and uniformly assesses and scores students by their ability to answer their own questions within the context of a Master Question Network. We will demonstrate how the Master Question Network uses polymorphic interfaces and C# lambda expressions to manage simulation objects.
Universe Sandbox 2 is an interactive sandbox that allows you to control gravity and other laws of physics across the universe. In fact, this is not really a game, but a realistic physics simulator that makes it possible to change the universe for yourself. So, the players are given many ready-made scenarios, and so, you can create your own, changing hundreds of different parameters.
Instruments of Destruction features an advanced physics-based destruction system. You can demolish every structure in the game piece by piece thanks to a fully interactive physics system, and every object in the world interacts with the destruction in some way. The game also features an advanced GPU-driven particle system and GPU-driven grass and surface rocks. Each element of the world complements the destruction system and interacts with each other and together they create a physical, visceral world to play with.