TPT WebSights column for Oct2004.

This year WebSights will proffer a selection of select sites appropriate for teaching a standard topic year-long introductory physics survey course.  This month's column presents some sites for teaching Newton's Laws, forces and uniform circular motion; next month will feature sites for teaching work and energy.  All sites are copyright by the authors, and most of the sites below are typical of others of a similar genre.  This column is also available as a web page at <http://PhysicsEd.BuffaloState.Edu/pubs/WebSights/>.

If you have successfully used a site to teach physics that you feel is appropriate for WebSights, please email me the site and how you use it for teaching.  The best site monthly will receive a T-shirt. <macisadl@buffalostate.edu>

Sites for teaching Newton's Laws, introductory forces and uniform circular motion:

The Mechanical Universe.  Fifty-two physics lessons as free video-on-demand.  A great reference for teachers before teaching any topic, or as enrichment.  Seven episodes cover introductory forces and motion (especially gravity and circular motion via animation) and four cover Kepler's Laws, simple orbits and (my students' favorite) simple interplanetary navigation:  <http://www.learner.org/progdesc/series42.html>

Spacecraft Piloting Games.  Many teachers use friction-free simulations to practice students' conceptual development of Newton's first law and circular motion. See the Gravity and Little Rocket Man games at <http://www.miniclip.com>, a simpler Asteroids-like game is at <http://www.mediamacros.com/item/item-973543631/> and another is <http://www.ncsu.edu/sciencejunction/station/gameroom/spacetrak/spacegame.html>.  Have students write out the piloting rules for starting and stopping motion, accelerating, braking, and flying the ship in a circle.  Suggested: M. Rose, F. Nochese, and J. Yap.

Personal Hovercraft.  Many sites describe how to make one-person plywood hovercraft powered by household vacuums and blowers.  These are a lot of fun to build as student projects and are great low-friction high-inertia devices for starting Newton's Laws studies.  Summary at <http://physicsed.buffalostate.edu/WNYPTA/meetings/2003-04/12Jun04/hover.doc>.   Also great for recruiting students to enroll in physics when run up and down school hallways.

Tutorials and Simulations for Free Body Diagrams.  Sites for classroom projection or individual review.  The Guelph FBD Tutorial site includes a self-test <http://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/tutorials/fbd/FBD.htm>; Glenbrook South HS has a similar tutorial at <http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/shwave/fbd.html>. Suggested: C. Olszewski and D. Pulhamus.

Tutorials and Simulations for Vectors.  These allow the graphical and numerical breakdown of vectors into components, add and subtract and sometimes calculate vector products.  These can be used to show fast "what if" situations projected in class or to check homework problems.  Components are nicely shown at <http://www.pa.uky.edu/~phy211/VecArith/>.  Resultants are shown at <http://www.walter-fendt.de/ph11e/resultant.htm>.  Suggested: F. Nochese.

Student-Interesting Applications of Newton's Laws.  Students are excited to see Newton's Laws analyzing their own bodies and in particular situations.  N. Childs says his students like the Physics of Skydiving site<http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211.fall2000.web.projects/Vlad%20Paverman/forces.htm>, Forces in Car Crashes <http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/carcr.html>,and the Physics of Skiing site <http://www.hesston.edu/academic/faculty/nelsonk/PhysicsResearch/Ski/matts_page.htm>which include momentum and energy conservation.  Coaches Walters and Greenhall suggest the famous Nebraska Physics of FootBall site <http://physics.unl.edu/outreach/football.html>.  My students like the car driving and racing analyses at: <http://www.miata.net/sport/Physics/> and <http://rubble.ultralab.net/simulations/newton_home.htm>.  S. Johnston suggests Cartoon Physics <http://world.std.com/~jimf/humor/cartoon.laws.html> and Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics <http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/>.  Also suggested by J. Lewocz, D. Doty, K. Hebden, and K. Benson.

Gravity, Orbits and Kepler's Laws.  Students love black holes – B. Romer suggests the time-lapse video data at <http://www.mpe-garching.mpg.de/www_ir/GC/gc.html> showing actual stars at our galactic core moving in orbit about an unseen object; almost certainly a black hole. The original woodcut figure from Newton's Principia animated to show orbital motion is found at <http://www.physics.purdue.edu/class/applets/NewtonsCannon/newtmtn.html>.  NASA simulates Kepler's Laws at <http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa//education/reference/orbits/orbits.html> and tracks Earth satellites at <http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/academy/rocket_sci/satellites/>. 

Visualizing Inclined Planes, Banked Roads and Newton's Third Law.  Animated FBDs for inclined planes <http://zebu.uoregon.edu/nsf/friction.html> and banked road animations at <http://courses.ncssm.edu/physics/physlets/CURVE/curveintro.htm> help visualize and analyze complex 3-D scenarios.   A compelling demo for showing micro-flexure in solid walls is available from <http://physicsed.buffalostate.edu/pubs/TPT/TPTApr01WallFlex/>. NOTE TO JANE: THIS IS THE CORRECTED ARTICLE—ORIGINAL IN TPT ARCHIVES CONTAINS ERROR.

Unit-Level Curricula for Forces. Classroom worksheets, labs and teachers’ guides featuring Newtonian curricular activities include Hake’s Socratic Dialog-Inducing (SDI) Labs from http://physics.indiana.edu/~sdi, and the early units of the award-winning ASU Modeling Physics Curriculum http://modeling.asu.edu/Curriculum.html. These freely-downloadable and reproducible curricula are researched and reported in the literature. Suggested: F. Sita