Thursday, May 05, 2022

My Favorite Web Applications - Part 5

Previous posts:

My favorite web applications - Part 1

My favorite web applications - Part 2

My favorite web applications - Part 3

My favorite web applications - Part 4

This time, it is an experiment that mimics the fabled Archimedes experiment where he supposedly determined for the "king" whether the crown was made of pure gold or not. This web application basically allows a student to perform a similar virtual experiment to determine the density of the object being investigated.

There are two reasons why I like this app. The first reason is that if you change the default settings for the mass and the volume, you will given rather random values. This means that each student will have different values for the mass and volume, resulting in each student having a unique set of data and calculation.

The second reason why I like this "experiment" is that it actually is the same experiment that we would do in a f2f lab. We use PASCO's Capstone system, and one of the experiments that we do is practically identical to what is shown in this virtual experiment, where a student has connected a weight sensor to a hanging mass, and then he/she slowly lowers it into a beaker of liquid. The sensor sends a reading of the hanging weight value to a data collection system that plots the value of the weight in real time. As the weight is lowered into the liquid, the data being plotted looks almost exactly as what is shown in the virtual experiment in this app. The weight changes due to the buoyant force of the liquid.

The analysis of the experiment and the extraction of the value of the object's density are similar for both the f2f lab and this virtual lab. So in that sense, the student is not being deprived of much of the physics. There are, of course, more errors involved in the real experiment because often the object isn't hanging still, and the movement adds more noise to the data. The app doesn't allow the data to be extracted directly, so no curve fitting or calculation of average value can be made for a range of the data points, something the students in the f2f lab are asked to do to be able to determined the weight before and after immersion.

Still, it is an adequate virtual experiment, especially since each student will have to do his/her own analysis on a unique set of measurement. I actually have used this as part of an assessment where this app was part of an exam for a f2f class (before the pandemic). The student had already done the actual experiment, so they should be familiar with how to find the density of the object using this app since things should look rather familiar.



No comments: