Saturday, March 19, 2022

My Favorite Web Applications - Part 3

Previous posts:

My favorite web applications - Part 1

My favorite web applications - Part 2

Continuing with this series, here is my next favorite web application. This is a virtual experiment on measuring the specific heat of an object. The fun thing about this particular application is that (i) it is very similar to what we normally do in a real experiment and (ii) one can also use the step-by-step instruction as part of the experimental procedure, thus the name "Guided Specific Heat.... ".

Similar to the force table experiment that I cited in Part 2, this one also has randomized values for each person going through it. It randomizes the mass of the cold water, the mass of the object, and uses different specific heats. Each student doing this online will have a different answer.

When I assigned this to the students during our remote sessions, the students had to fill in all the information obtained during each step, i.e. measurement of the mass, etc. Then, during the actual measurement, once it stopped, the students had to do a screen capture of the graph of Temp. vs. time to paste in their report. They then had to show their work on how they arrived at the specific heat value of the object. If they entered the correct answer, the application acknowledges that and they should also do a screen capture of that to paste in the report. If they got it wrong, then they had the option of either submitting what they had and take the deduction for the wrong work and answer, or redo the experiment from the very beginning. They get to do this as many times as they wish until they get it right.

I also added an extra part where I asked them to think of the kind of errors and uncertainty in the experiment, especially if this were done in real life.

To double-check the students' answers, I created a spreadsheet where all I needed to do was to enter the mass of the object, mass of the cold water, and the final temperature. 

I like that each student will have a different answer. It added an extra layer where they could not just copy off each other's work directly. The experimental procedure is also almost identical to one of our experiments on specific heats anyway, so I didn't have to make huge modification to the instruction.

Now that we have gone back to f2f classes, I'm using this exercise as part of a homework assignment.


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