download-2Physics Studio by Sridhar Sundaram is a convenient way to help conquer the challenging topic of physics. A strong science foundation in physics is needed by students in order understand simple operations in our world. One of the difficulties in teaching physics is that it is hard to understand without directly experiencing it. And it is through experience, students begin to quickly build an intuitive understanding and a love for physics. What sets this app apart from the pack is that topics like Waves, Electricity, Energy, Electromagnetism can be explored through the simulations set in the app. This was the inspiration and impetus in creating Physics Studio.  The app revolves around the core topics in physics and supports  NGSS (US), IGCSE (UK), ACARA (Australia), CBSE (India), and KTO12 (Philippines) standards, so teachers can see exactly which part of the syllabus a certain topic is from. The topics are comprehensive, and this app is a labor of love from the developers to share the underlying concepts of a physics curriculum with all. It covers a diverse range of topics such as  Waves and Optics, Mechanics, States of Matter, Electricity, Electromagnetism, Atomic Structure, and Energy. Each topic has subtopics within them that teach those concepts in detail through its interactive design features. Let’s briefly peek inside and preview the topics under waves, mechanics, and states of matter categories to see the wide range of concepts this app covers.

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Waves

IMG_0015To understand how this app teaches concepts, let’s take an example of the subtopics under the Waves category. The subtopics include Basic Waves, Transverse Waves, Longitudinal Waves, Wave Phenomena, Reflection and Mirrors, Refraction and Lenses. Each of these subtopics has a question associated with them and the answer is received through a puzzle or activity to apply knowledge learned. For example, Wave Phenomena has a question asking, “What is a reflection of waves?”  On clicking, a pop-up briefly explains what is wave reflection. The concept is further explored in the following page which has two sections. The left side has detailed description of reflection along with its formula and examples. It also has information about which part of the syllabus this concept is from. This helps teachers link their physics standards to the app while preparing their lesson plans. On the right, we see a mirror which we can rotate to change the angle and generate waves. There is also a spot quiz for this topic that students could take to test their knowledge of physics. Additionally, there are options such as challenge, application, play, and review for multiple topics. Once all the topics in a subsection are finished, a student can review them by taking a mock exam within the app itself. This prepares them for exams on those topics in class. This is a fun way to learn about reflection in manageable chunks, and is just one of the many concepts that this app teaches.

Mechanics

IMG_0018Mechanics is the study of objects that are at rest or in motion. The subsections include Motion, Law of Inertia, Law of Acceleration, Moments and Electricity, and Astronomy. One of the topics under Astronomy describes the vastness of the cosmos. It starts with informing us that billions of galaxies exist in the universe and continues to explain the scale of different objects ranging from dust to all a local supercluster within the universe. In the active participation section, a lesson to help understand the difference in size of objects in relation to each other. Interaction includes swiping left and right to zoom in and out. We could zoom out from a speck of dust to the size of the Earth or Sun and even to the broad expanse of the universe itself. This gives the student a visual reference point to understanding how space is defined – from the tip of one’s nose to the vastness of the unknown.

The States of Matter

IMG_0017The subtopics under this category include Density, Change of State, and Properties of Gases. One of the questions includes learning about state transition. We can see what happens to a liquid when it turns from a solid to gas, but what happens to the molecules of that liquid? This topic explains all by showing an animation in which the molecules are moving quickly when the Gas option is selected. They then slow down when Liquid is selected, and slow down even further when Solid is selected. It also visually shows environmental effects such as interactions with temperature.

In Summary

These are only 3 of about 90 topics this app teaches. Other categories such as Electricity, Electromagnetism, Atomic Structure, and Energy in the app also have subsections with topics that bring learning to life and enable students to visually understand some of the most difficult topics in physics. Games and challenges in this app make the topics of Atoms, Radioactivity, Energy, Electric Circuits, the Center of Gravity, Motors, Induction, and Magnets tangible and burn the underlying concepts into minds. This app combines cutting edge simulation technology with advanced learning theory to make learning smart, fun and rewarding.

Wish List
  • Add videos
  • More interactivity
  • Closely defined and sequenced concepts – sometimes I felt that I was adequately prepared for the quiz
  • The text highlighting isn’t a necessary feature for the demands of the intended audience
  • This would be a great web based app for classrooms

Here is the backstory directly from the developer:

After my Ph.D at Cornell, I was optimizing searches and ad-clicks at Google when I realized that “finding” is not the same as “minding”. Google solves the “finding” problem, but “minding”- that is, to understand, experience and absorb concepts – is a whole new ball game. We have wonderful games like Angry Birds but our educational system and teachers are relying on outdated tools – lectures and books- for instruction. Physics Studio is conceived as an “active” learning environment – concepts are assimilated effortlessly and deeply by interacting with focused experiments and activities. Physics should become a way of thinking just like language is a way of communicating.

 

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