About Minds on Physics
The Minds On Physics Internet Modules utilize a collection of carefully crafted questions to challenge students' misconceptions concerning physics concepts. Interactive Shockwave files have been combined with web-based instructional resources to assist students in becoming aware of and altering their conceptual understanding of the world of motion, waves and electricity. Fifteen learning modules composed of varying levels of difficulty have been created. Students progress through each level of the modules by correctly answering questions which are randomly selected from a bank of several questions. Immediate feedback, and direct links to web-based instructional resources (The Physics Classroom
and the Multimedia Physics Studios
) are provided. Students having difficulty with a given question can link directly to question-specific help for that question. The success of a student on any given module can be checked using a system of encrypted success codes.
The Shockwave Files - How They Work
The Shockwave files are created with a multimedia authoring product known as Macromedia Director (now called Adobe Director). Director includes a scripting language known as Lingo. Each Shockwave file contains a bank of up to 40 questions. Lingo scripts are used to select a question from the bank, evaluate student answers, check on student progress on a sublevel and provide feedback and directions to the student. In effect, Lingo is the quarterback which directs the plays while the various questions and graphics are the players which show up on the field at Lingo's command. Upon the successful completion of a sublevel, an encrypted success code is generated based on name and ID information. This success code can be used to validate that a student completed the assigned sublevel(s).
The original Minds On Physics Internet Modules were constructed during the summer months of 1999 by three physics teachers - Tom Henderson, Neil Schmidgall, and Brian Wegley - from Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL. The project was supported by an NSTA/Toyota Tapestry grant - a generous grant provided by Toyota Motor Sales and administered by the National Science Teachers Association. With the grant money, software was purchased to develop the modules and summer stipends were provided to support the work of the three teachers. An online FileMaker Pro database was used to automatically track student progress through each module. The following school year, nine modules on mechanics topics were ready for use by the Glenbrook South physics students.
Both teachers and students were instantly amazed by the ability of the modules to improve student understanding. Teachers marveled at the student interest over the modules and the high levels of cognitive engagement when working on the modules. Students found the modules both educational and fun. They often begged teachers to take them to the computer lab to work on "MOP". Some of those original students claimed to have become MOP-aholics.
The original modules suffered from a variety of design problems which were gradually fixed over the next couple of years. Additionally, seven other modules were developed to support students in the electricity, waves, and ray optics portion of the course. The Minds On Physics Internet Modules were originally created to be used with a web-connected database. The database collected information regarding student progress in any given module. This database arrangement allowed Glenbrook South physics teachers to make assignments and easily check on students' completion of the assignment for the purpose of assigning grades. In recent years, the database has no longer been used; instead, a system utilizing encrypted success codes is used for the purpose of holding students accountable for completion of assigned work. These success codes are based upon the student name and ID number and thus unique to every student. The use of such success codes allow teachers from any school to assign work and to check on student completion of the assigned work.
Use of the Minds On Physics Internet Modules requires a single piece of web browser technology that is available free of charge. Users will need to have the Shockwave plug-in. Shockwave is available free of charge from the Download section of the Adobe web site. Directions for installation are provided there. Installation is highly automated and should take no more than a couple of minutes. Your role in the installation process will merely require that you select the version for your operating system and answer a few simple questions (name, e-mail address, etc.). Minds On Physics should work on any browser that supports the Shockwave plug-in.
Further information about technical issues and the troubleshooting of problems can be found on a separate page.
Teachers who are interested in using the Minds On Physics Internet Modules with their classes can read more about it on a separate page.