Practical physics made easy

Communicating Science

Perhaps the most important way we can communicate fundamental physics concepts to children - or, indeed, to anyone unfamiliar with the subject - is through experiments. Many such experiments are simply impractical for educational institutions at the secondary level and lower, particularly for schools with the least resources, where outreach is most needed. Compounding this effect is the requirement for manipulation and repetition, allowing the student to explore relationships between variables through the development and testing of hypotheses. Now, as we continue to work and learn through a pandemic, rendering any form of hands-on public activity a health risk, practical experience is even less accessible to students.

Yet, regardless of the whatever obstacles we face, people still need practical demonstration of concepts to effectively understand them. So what can we do? Bring it online of course! To account for the natural detachment from the subject matter produced by the online medium, we can frame the experiment as would be done in a classroom: a story. In this story, the student is tasked with firing a projectile at a target on three different planets. Along the way, the student is guided by an astronaut avatar who explains the underlying physics principles governing the results of the experiment. Extra time-permitting features include allowing the student to choose his or her own planet or avatar.

Weekend Goals
  • Develop concepts being taught
  • Write avatar monologue
  • Create game and host online
Skills being sought
  • Classical mechanics understanding
  • Pygame
  • Front end programming
References and background material