I spent my whole prep period today playing with a site I hadn't seen before: PHYSICS 2000 @   I need to spend some more time there. I would love to know if someone has lessons that they are currently using that take students to the applets.  I am especially interested in using the applets for the periodic table, electromagnetic radiation and half-life radioactivity.  I will share anything I come up with.

Just an update as of 3/17. I tried to access the site, but it is no longer available. I reached out to CU Boulder and was told that Physics 2000 has been removed from their website because of old programs. There is no plan for upgrade. If you read Trish Loeblein's comment below, you will find that much of the work from Physics 2000 has been used to create sims on the PhET site. I was offered a CD with the program. They would still work on an older computer. If you are interested in getting one, you can contact the physics department at CU Boulder. 


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Comments 7

Trish Loeblein | Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:54

FYI: Carl Wieman was one of the original contributors to the Physics 2000 site to help explain his work with the Bose Einstein Condensate for which he shared a Nobel Prize. After seeing how useful simulations were to his students, he started the PhET Interactive simulations website. His education research supported the idea that interaction would be more helpful than just viewing. There is no interactive periodic table on the PhET site, but there is Build an Atom and Isotopes which are both very helpful for understanding the underlying model for the periodic table. There are also several sims for electromagnetic radiation. The half-live ones you may like are: Beta Decay, Alpha Decay, Radioactive Dating Game, Nuclear Fission ,Rutherford. You may want to use the key word search to help you find sims. There are activitiy ideas at the bottom of each sim page. 


ALFREDO TIFI's picture
ALFREDO TIFI | Thu, 05/09/2013 - 02:59

I use PhET's "Build an Atom", it's amazing and rich of "embedded" concepts. Students sense out arguments (classic views obviously) for the impossibility of putting the third electron in the first orbit. the  Also useful to talk about the limits of that model (e.g.: fixed orbits). Anyway I believe that simulations could drift the teacher to overlook the development of the special ability to create student's own images and conscious representations (that can be put in words, adjusted and shared) that are particularly important in chemistry education. With the youngers there is a risk that either the simulation is identified with reality or that the model inhibits the autonomous search for such images and representations. For that reason, for example, I am used to work on the kinetic-molecular model bith two sole ingredients, that are observed phenomena and imagination and I work on the atom's model by really executing Rutherford-Geiger-Marsden experiments in a remote controlled laboratory ( again using that faculty of imagination to figure out which model (or kind of fruit) best fits to the observations.

Deanna Cullen's picture
Deanna Cullen | Thu, 06/20/2013 - 16:45

I am interested in learning more about what the Remote Controlled Laboratory is and how you use it if you are willing. THANKS!

ALFREDO TIFI's picture
ALFREDO TIFI | Sat, 06/22/2013 - 16:51

Yes, I will... I used Rutherford RCL experiment for the third year, and it's a pleasure for me to share both the outcomes and the general problem about educational approach to reality, a theme that comes first, in importance, than education to science.

In RCL you have a control capacity on some variable parameters and settings of a real machine, you have a webcam showing your changes and the results of the measures and the interpretation of those outcomes is up to you.

Emotionally speaking these experiments are, surprisingly, less captivating than applets or sumulated games where you have total control on simulated physical objects, where you can even see or count or move coloured electrons, you can play with them as in videogames.

In RCL at first students are very curious of the intriguing possibility to make something changing remotely at their will. In the second time they obviously try to destroy something unsuccesfully by changing parameters to extreme ranges. In the third phase they become aware that they haven't other buttons to push and the aesthetical drive fades out. There are not explosions or enemy to destroy and a student by 20 could be remain interested for the fourth step in which some invisible particle undergoes scattering at large angles, without any intellectual control on the implications on the kind of atom model that would best fit (fifth step 0 students).

This is what happens in a spontaneous (un)managed educational experience with students addicted to virtual (un)reality and serve to convince the readers that applets and videogaming miseducate to the scientific inquiry. This latter is concerned with the intrinsic causal aspects of the real world that demand changes and tuning of theoretical models or representations.

This principal intellectual-imaginative task, connotating scientific knowledge, is ignored and considered boring by students. Digital native generation of students believe that everything happens on the stage for the sake of their pleasure and entertainment. Unfortunately, physical reality has not got informed yet of these changes in fashion and values, and stubbornly continues to behave along its boring and uncontrollable laws.

Our task as educators is NOT to make educational games and activities more entertaining, as I see continuously.

We ought to be honest and show them that the only interesting and valuable challenge is about understanding how those natural facts can be accounted for.

Trying different ways, with fourteen-agers and older students, is fraudulent deceiving to onset a useless and false motivation. As to say them: "play baby, you're not able to understand the real underlying tasks. So, baby, play and be happy".

Marten Lettinga | Thu, 06/27/2013 - 11:41

The instructions for the remote experiment are all in German. I do happen to be able to read German somewhat but most of my students here in central BC, Canada wouldn't. It looks interesting! Teaching at a small satellite campus three hours away from the main campus , we run an atomic absorption experiment through remote access from the main campus for our first year Chemistry students here.

Marten Lettinga | Thu, 06/27/2013 - 11:45

Correction to my last posting: I found the English page for the RCL website. Sorry for my oversight!

Judy Cheng | Thu, 05/09/2013 - 10:12

I have found the one on gas laws to be very useful as well. It is a gem of a resource for both classroom use and student use.