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Re: [Phys-l] Traditional Labs and Online Simulations

On 02/10/2012 10:18 AM, Sean Grealis wrote:
I always view my labs
as a way for students to investigate and explore natural phenomena,


My main concern with this is that the
simulation will “give away the answers” as it were.

I reckon that is the least of your worries, for multiple reasons:

1) I've (almost) never heard a student complain that things
were too easy. If things go smoothly, it allows students
to do more with the apparatus in the same amount of time.
That's a good thing.

2) If the experiment agrees with the numerical model, that's
a good thing. If not, that's a teachable moment also.

3) Most importantly: It is always good to make the school
experience more closely resemble the real world. Real-
world scientists an engineers simulate the daylights out
of something before they build it. DEVGRU spent weeks
simulating the Abbottabad raid before they carried it out.


On the other side of the same coin, as Phillip Keller points
out, the ones you need to worry about are the ones who are
so clueless that they don't get much out of the simulation
*or* the actual apparatus.

Also: It is possible to have too much of a good thing, such
as too much simulation. However, this is an easy problem to
avoid. Common sense should suffice to keep you out of trouble.


Tangential, but important:

On 02/10/2012 12:11 PM, Rauber, Joel wrote:
if nothing else, my students will leave the laboratory knowing how to
read a ruler. And as a consumer of the education of my fellow
citzenry, I'd rather they learn that than some more physics

Amen, brother.

My main point is that in my opinion the lab is about a more than
merely being a vehicle for aiding the understanding of underlying
physics and/or concepts. Naturally I hope the lab is doing that as