About the Physics Interactives

A large number of high schools are investing in iPads and Chromebooks in an effort to provide every student with a web-connected computing device. This rapidly-growing trend leaves physics teachers in a bit of a predicament. We've learned to depend upon a collection of interactive web resources that were built on the backbone of plug-in technologies such as Java, Flash, and Shockwave. And now very few of these resources work on the devices that our students hold in their hands. The rapid emergence of these modern devices has left a void in our traditional curriculum and instruction. The Physics Interactives is our effort to help fill that void.

The Physics Interactives is a growing collection of interactive materials that were designed with tablets such as the iPad and Chromebooks in mind. While our Interactives will work equally well on laptop and desktop devices, the goal of this project was to create a collection that worked well on as many modern devices as possible, thus supporting students, teachers and classrooms who are in 1-to-1 environments. Our hope is to provide students, teachers and classrooms a collection of learning activities that are rich with interactivity and functional on mobile (phones and tablets), Chromebooks, and laptop and desktop devices. As such, all our Interactives use HTML5 programming and are not reliant upon plug-ins such as Java, Flash and Shockwave. Our work during the summer of 2014 led to the creation of 50 Physics Interactives. We intend to continue adding to this rich collection of resources during the school year. And we will work hard at optimizing what we've already produced so that the resources operate as effectively as possible on as many devices as possible.

What Are Physics Interactives?

Each Interactive is a self-contained environment that begs the learner to interact. Such interactions may involve any of the following:
  • asking a what-if questions and having a tool to pursue the answer,
  • changing a variable and observing an outcome,
  • conducting a cause-effect study of the relationship between variables,
  • collecting data from a simulated environment and looking for relationships,
  • engaging in a game-like environment in order to accomplish a prescribed goal,
  • reflecting on a question and answering it, and
  • making a decision based on one's conceptions of physics.
Physics Interactives are all about engaging physics students in rich interactions.

Many of our Interactives come with a classroom-ready set of pages to be printed and distributed to the class. These pages provide direction, guidance, leading questions, and tables for organizing collected data. The Interactives do not require such handouts. The activity sheets are simply provided as a service to those teachers who would like to use them with their classes and as an example of how an Interactive could be used to engage students in a classroom activity. The Physics Classroom encourages teachers to share their own Interactives with us. Perhaps someday they will grace the pages of our website.

Sharing and Staying Informed

We invite you to share your ideas with us on our social media websites. Tell us what you think. Tell us how you used a particular Interactive. Post a link to a PDF that you found to be an effective activity for using an Interactive. Let us know what isn't working. Suggest ways we could improve.

Finally, we're not done. We have more ideas of Interactives we would like to create ... and we plan on creating them. You may want to know about them when they arrive. So why not follow us on one of our social outlets and stay up-to-date on developments with the Physics Interactives and our website as a whole.

Let's Give a Round of Applause to ...

This idea of a rich collection of engaging and interactive HTML5 content has been brewing in our minds for some time. But we are certain that we could not have done this project if it were not for our friends at Nerd Island Studios. They were the catalyst, the brains, and the worker-bees that helped make this project what it has become. Their expertise at HTML5 programming resulted in numerous simulations that will engage and entertain students for years to come. Many iPad users are likely familiar with Nerd Island's Step-2-Step app for the iPad. The same expertise, skill, and team-manship that created Step-2-Step have been employed during this project to create some pretty awesome simulations. Stop by their website (http://www.nerdislandstudios.com) to see some of their other great products. And while you're there, drop them a line and give them a great big dataway.

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