How long does a lab take to complete?
Our experience is that students can complete a lab in 60 to 90 minutes. The time range varies with student sophistication and attentiveness to detail.
Are students expected to know the physics in advance?
Students are expected to know the fundamentals of any physics that precedes the topic. For instance, in a lab on Newton's laws they are expected to know what acceleration is. But the labs are self-contained in terms of the topics being taught. When students start the lab on Newton's laws, they are not expected to know what a net force is or what Newton's laws are.
Do the labs require calculus?
What has the student reaction to the labs been?
Highly positive. Students view the Kinetic Books electronic
labs as a great supplement to real-world labs. Most say they
would prefer a mix of virtual labs and "real world"
labs, since they view the two as addressing different skills
and providing different ways to learn.
Students value the immediate feedback that the labs provide
and they certainly enjoy those labs that have game-like exercises.
They particularly appreciate the lab writeups, which include
sections telling them what they are expected to learn and
provide focused questions to test their knowledge and understanding.
Some students have commented that because the lab writeups
supply much useful information, they would like the chance
to read them in advance.
What has the teacher reaction been?
Instructors tell us the labs are extremely efficient to conduct
and that their students really seem to enjoy and learn a great
deal from them. Initially, some instructors raised the concern
that a few students might feel excluded by the more game-like
activities, but we have not found this to be the case. The
lab activities always require students to draw conclusions
and to apply physics concepts, so they are far more than idle
amusement. None of the games is a "twitch" (reflex-driven)
game, so Nintendo/Xbox/Playstation experience is not particularly
helpful. Instructors have also told us they use Virtual Physics Labs for
extended homework assignments or preparation for physical labs.
What is "lab grading"?
Most of the required student responses in the lab are free-form
text. Students are frequently asked to form hypotheses or
analyze data and are asked questions like, "How would
you determine the height of the tower?" or "What
does your data indicate is the relationship between the force
and the distance between the charges?" They are also
asked for quantitative responses, but these are a minority.
Students type their responses into their browsers, and when
they are done with the lab and any revisions they wish to
make, they "submit" all their responses at once.
When a student "submits" the lab, a new HTML page
is created. This page contains each question from the lab
along with the student's responses. He or she can review and
then print this page or save it to disk. No attempt is made
to assess the quality of the written responses or the correctness
of the numerical answers. This contrasts with the Kinetic
Books physics textbook, where most of the homework questions
require either quantitative responses or are multiple choice,
yes/no, or similar kinds of questions that can be automatically
graded. The natures of the student responses desired in labs
and in homework problems are different, and the designs of the
two products reflect that.
Can I evaluate the labs before purchasing?
Yes. Instructors may request an online 30-day trial
What operating system does it work on?
Labs will install on either the Windows or Macintosh operating system.
Can the labs be printed?
The labs can be printed but are not designed with this in
mind. It may be useful for some students to read the labs
in advance, but they require the interactivity provided by
a computer to be useful.
are the system requirements?
Click here for system requirements.