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Title: Work-in-Progress: Computer Simulations to Deliver Inquiry-Based Laboratory Activities in Mechanics
Our previous work demonstrated that the use of inquiry-based laboratory activities (IBLAs) have helped students develop better understanding of core concepts in mechanics. IBLAs are constructed around brief hands-on-experiments designed so that students can confront common misconceptions. In a predict-observe-explain sequence, these activities prompt students to make sense of a phenomenon as they work collaboratively through a guided worksheet. However, these physical experiments present logistical challenges for many instructors, such as those who teach large classes or those confined to remote instruction due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In this work-in-progress paper, we describe the development of computer simulations for a set of IBLAs in mechanics. These web-based virtual IBLAs contain simulations built with an open-source JavaScript physics engine that has been customized to achieve the accuracy needed. They afford the same pedagogical structure but allow students to observe the salient phenomena on a computer screen, reducing the constraints and limitations for an instructor to deliver them. Students can rapidly adjust input parameters, render the physics engine in slow-motion speeds, and graph real-time parameters from the simulation. Free access to the IBLAs, including simulations, handouts and instructions is available to instructors through the Concept Warehouse. In this we report how we rendered a set of proven IBLAs, including the Spool IBLA, Rolling Cylinders IBLA and Pendulum IBLA into a virtual laboratory environment. We describe student responses to different renderings including video only, simulation only, and combined video and simulation.  more » « less
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ASEE annual conference exposition
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National Science Foundation
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