Using a virtual world for teaching the motion of projectiles

Lucas, Rob (2010). Using a virtual world for teaching the motion of projectiles. In: Building Bridges: the 3rd Open CETL Conference, 24-25 Sep 2008, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.



This project was developed as a demonstrator for the E-Learning in Physical Science for Sport. Its purpose is to demonstrate the sort of application that can be developed to support Physics teaching using examples from sport.
A virtual world has been created using OpenGL in which the user can move around and fire arrows from a bow. The trajectory in 3-D space is plotted in real-time and can be halted at anytime allowing the user to examine the components of its velocity vector. The user’s freedom to move in three dimensions means he can reposition himself close to the arrow to view its velocity vectors. There is an option to include air resistance. Two dimensional graphs of height against time and force against stretch are also plotted. All possible plots have deliberately been avoided to enable students to engage in their own graph drawing. My view is that students should be using pen and paper alongside the application to fully engage and understand the principles being demonstrated. The package has been evaluated in the classroom by several teachers who have indicated what material could usefully be added. Their comments and our responses will be discussed. The developed program will be demonstrated and will be available for participants to try. The design and implementation of the package will be outlined and some general points on available development tools suitable for educational graphics will be discussed and examples shown. Particular techniques used, such as collision detection and shadows, will be described.

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