Applying virtual reality in education: A prototypical virtual physics laboratory

  • Loftin R
  • Engleberg M
  • Benedetti R
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Abstract

A prototypical virtual physics laboratory has been constructed that allows students to control the laboratory environment as well as the physical properties of objects in that laboratory. Those environment factors that can be controlled in the current implementation include gravity (both magnitude and direction), surface friction, and atmospheric drag. The coefficients of restitution of elastic bodies can also be altered. Trajectories of objects can be traced to facilitate measurements. The laboratory allows students to measure both displacements and elapsed time. Time may be frozen to allow for precise observation of time-varying phenomena. This laboratory will ultimately be extended into the macroscopic and microscopic domains -giving students access to direct observations that were heretofore impossible. This new application of computer graphics in education has the potential to augment or replace traditional laboratory instruction with approaches that offer superior motivation, retention, and intellectual stimulation

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Authors

  • R.B. Loftin

  • M. Engleberg

  • R. Benedetti

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