Welcome to practical physicsPracticle physics - practical activities designed for use in the classroom with 11 to 19 year olds

Using simulations and animations

Simulations and animations are no substitute for practical experiments. But they can provide a powerful supplement that helps students to visualize the physics.

Simulations and animations can offer:

  • the option of stepping through complex motions so that a process is seen more clearly, e.g. wave superposition in an air column 
  • a ‘clean’ pattern with extraneous and distracting effects removed. This leads to ideas about modelling 
  • an ability to switch easily between complementary views, e.g. electric field lines, vector forces and equipotential lines 
  • quick and ‘live’ graph plotting to accompany motion. 

There are many excellent applets available on the Internet. We hope one day to populate experiment pages on this site with links to relevant applets.

Meanwhile we recommend six collections covering many topics at intermediate and advanced level, Physlets in the Classroom, Hyperphysics, the University of Salford, the University of Colorado, Walter Fendt and this site from the University of Toronto