The Virtual Physical Laboratory can be used in a variety of different ways to liven up the teaching of physics:
a) As an animated blackboard
b) As a virtual experiment to generate typical measurement data.
c) As a curriculum support resource
d) As a qualitative exploration tool
e) As a demonstration of how to conduct an experiment prior to letting the students operate the real physical equipment in the laboratory.
f) As a platform to help students in an extension project
g) As a tool to enhance the subject knowledge and deepen the understanding of pupils as well as teachers!
h) As a reference encyclopedia of interactive experiments
i) As a low cost data-logging package (using the sound card microphone input and or the mouse as position/angle sensor)
The resource is intuitive in its operation and each simulation includes instructions as well as a brief description of the physical theory. Once installed on a school server, a class of students in a computer room can work simultaneously on any number of simulations.
Some of the animations and virtual experiments go beyond what is required at school, but are included to stretch the more able pupils. The Virtual Physical Laboratory has been used successfully in a broad range of curricula in many different countries.
If you are looking for actual (as opposed to virtual) experiments, you may be interested to read some papers recently published by the Physics Education journal of the IoP. These experiments use programs that are included in the VPLab, and are suitable projects for students to carry out with very little additional input from you:
- Educational electrical appliance power meter and logger:
- The Inductive Gravimeter:
- The Bounce Meter: