There are four main Physics virtual lab components.
The mechanics laboratory enables students to experiment with and understand the concepts of forces, friction, acceleration, and collisions and their effect on the motion of objects under controlled conditions. A partial list of the experiments performed in the mechanics laboratory includes: projectile motion in uniform or radial gravity, ramp motion in uniform or radial gravity, the collision of multiple balls with elastic or inelastic collisions, a falling rod, and the motion of planetary objects in the solar system. Students are able to control almost any experimental parameter including forces, gravity, friction, mass, size, location and direction.
The optics laboratory gives students the freedom to discover and learn optics principles using light sources, objects, mirrors, lenses, prisms, and filters. Students are able to setup components on an optics table and move the viewing detector, a virtual eye, to different locations to observe the resulting image characteristics. They can also layout mirrors and lenses in different combinations, analyzing the resulting image characteristics and verifying the lensmaker equations. The lab supports the study and investigation of the principles of light addition and subtraction with filters and prism light recombination, as well as Snell’s Law and the law of reflection.
The circuits laboratory provides a chance to learn about simple electrical circuits involving resistors, capacitors, and inductors. Students build circuits using either a breadboard or schematic representation. Using the digital breadboard, students can connect components as they would on a physical breadboard by adding any combination of resistors, light bulbs, capacitors, inductors and batteries, or a function generator. Using the schematic, the students can “draw” a circuit as they would in planning a circuit on paper. The breadboard and schematic are linked together, so that as one is changed the other is automatically updated to match. Having completed their circuits, students can then use the digital multimeter and oscilloscope to analyze their designs.
The density laboratory enables students to measure the mass and volume of a large set of liquids and solids which, in turn, allows them to explore the fundamental concepts governing density and buoyancy. The laboratory has a set of graduated cylinders that can be filled with various liquids such as water, corn syrup, mercury, jet fuel, tar, plus many others to study miscibility or the relative density of the liquids. The laboratory also contains a large selection of solids which the students may drop in the liquids to observe whether they float or sink. Students can then calculate the density of the solids by measuring the solid’s mass and the volume of liquid displaced in the cylinders, and determine the liquid’s density by measuring its mass and volume.