Thursday, June 30, 2022

My Favorite Web Applications - Part 6

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

My favorite web applications - Part 5

Continuing on with my pet project here, this next web application is actually another one of those that closely mimics an actual experiment. This time, it is on specific heat, and the goal here is to measure the specific heat of an unknown liquid. You do this by measuring the mass and temperature of the unknown liquid, and then mixing it with hot water of known mass and temperate. By finding the final equilibrium temperature, you then calculate the specific heat of the unknown liquid.

Like I said, this web experiment is done step by step just like a real experiment. In fact, you could use this as the lab instruction and get the students to follow each step of the experiment. But what I like the most is that each student will be given a different set of numbers to work with. The masses will be different, and so will the starting temperatures of the liquid, resulting in different final temperature as well. I don't remember if the specific heat of the unknown liquid is also different for different students. Please let me know if you've used this app or if you discover this later on.

I used this as one of my virtual labs when we went remote. But I continue to use this after we gone back to face-to-face classes as part of my in-class problem solving exercises. I've also given this as a take-home homework problem, and they have to show the final acknowledgement page that they got this correct if they want to receive credit for it. If the students have done the actual experiment itself, this web application will be quite familiar and they should have a good clue on how to correctly find the unknown specific heat.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Share It, Don't Split It - Is It Working?

I'm teaching a physics course with labs over the summer. And if you've taught Summer courses, you know that they go very fast and furious, so I'm not sure if there's any chance for any evaluation on the effectiveness of anything.

I mentioned a study a while back that seems to imply that it is better for students, especially minorities and marginalized students, to share lab work and have equal access to every part of the experiment, rather than splitting responsibilities and have each students just do one part of it. I am still unsure of how effective it is or whether I can tell if it is working, but I've made sure that the students know that no one is to do just one part of the experiment, that everyone must take turns doing different parts of the experiment.

Much to my surprise, the students seem to be amicable about it. So far, I've seen everyone taking turns and rotating themselves to different tasks as they perform the experiment. Better yet, I've seen students helping and teaching other students on what they just learned about doing certain parts of the experiment or in performing the analysis of the data.

One direct result that I've seen so far is that everyone in the group knows how to work and setup the computer interface to connect to the various sensors, whereas in previous classes, I've noticed that the same students had the responsibility of setting up the sensors. Already, I can tell that the students are learning about conducting the whole experiment rather than only certain parts of it.

I did not plan on doing any form of assessment on how beneficial or effective this is, because I had not run any control study before. Besides, it is a summer session, and "rushing" is the most common theme for a physics summer class.

I don't know if this will boost the students' "self-efficacy" but from simply a superficial observation, I can see the benefit of requiring that the lab work be shared rather than split.