VPython Workshop - Jan 7, 2012
Leader: Nathan Finney, Columbia Secondary School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering
SUMMARY: Computer programming is a gateway to research work for undergraduate and high school students; it is central to all modern research projects on and off earth, and programming practice provides habits of mind for interpreting and representing physical models that supplement traditional physics curriculum. The discrete step-wise nature of computer simulation and animation provides a rich environment for exploring the linear behavior of physical systems in increasingly smaller regimes.
This workshop is designed to give teachers experience creating an interactive projectile motion simulator using VPython. Teachers will use a guiding worksheet that students at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering use during their 9th grade engineering course. The primary focus will be to get together and build a physics-based procedurally generated animation using VPython (the coolest programming language!).
Discussion will address the following issues:
• Including computer programming and the use of computer simulations and procedurally generated animation in high school physics coursework - When, where, how, why should kids learn how to program?
• Improvements to the projectile motion assignment
• Conceptual models specific to the projectile motion simulator
• What else could we build?