I am trying to provide PhET-based lessons as substitutes for the physical labs in my 2nd semester calculus-based introductory physics classes. At least for now, I am limiting the PhET simulations I use to those that are coded in HTML – the Java sims might be problematic for some of my students.
I am not requiring my students to do these labs and submit reports. Instead, they are recommended. At this point, I’ve taken my foot off the requirement gas pedal.
There are real live experts on Physics Education Research who build curriculum, and I am not one of those. Obviously, experts at the University of Colorado built the PhET sims, and I am taking advantage of those. But I am doing the best job I can to write up lessons using the sims keeping in mind my own students’ backgrounds and what we have previously done this semester. I also have my own priorities – I feel very strongly about doing the best I can to build a conceptual foundation.
I am asking students to start by reading an introduction to the topic that I have written in lieu of my usual 10-minute (or so) “mini-lecture” at the beginning of the first class of the week. The written introductions of course lack the really wonderful humor I insert into my mini-lectures (or maybe it’s not so wonderful – maybe my students will not miss it at all). Then I give them a link to a Khan Academy video lesson on the topic. Then the PhET lesson.
I am also assigning Mastering Physics problem sets from our Knight textbook to provide lots of practice with calculations (since it is a calculus-based class).
So I’m attaching a pdf of my PhET lesson on magnetic induction (for the week beginning March 30) so that anybody who is interested can take a peek. Comments (via whatever channel you choose) are welcome.