Today I’ll share a few of the resources I use to teach the fundamentals of physics. One of the most fun aspects of teaching physics is that it lends itself to so many entertaining and engaging activities and demonstrations in class. Along with chemistry, physics is probably the most hands-on science I teach; therefore, real-world demonstrations and activities are the bread and butter of my physics units. However, there are any number of situations in which hands-on demonstrations aren’t possible or feasible: a lack of funding or resources at a school, broken equipment, abstract concepts or perhaps a student is simply reviewing material at home. In these cases, animations can provide a tremendous amount of help in understanding the essentials of physics. Most of the resources I’ve listed here are collections of animations to help students learn (and teachers teach!) about physics.
- PhET simulations from the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA – This is my go-to resource when I need a simulation or animation. Interactive, well-designed, with plenty of support materials and the ability to take measurements. These animations may be used for virtual labs.
- The Physics Classroom – I’ve been using this site for years. It’s got well-written synopses of all the classical physics topics in student-friendly language, plus links to some basic animations and a range of practice problems. Extremely well-organized.
- Physics animations from the University of Notre Dame, USA – An extensive list of animations covering a wide range of physics topics.
- Physics and astronomy animations from Penn State University, USA – Another university site with an extensive list of short animations.
- Flash animations for physics – A long list of small Flash files over a wide variety of topics. From a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada.
- Math and physics animations – These animations aren’t great, but they clearly show the link between the math and graphic sides of physics. Also some calculus here, so probably more appropriate for upper high school students.
- University of New South Wales, Australia – Demo videos and GIFs covering a wide range of physics concepts.
- Games and interactives from The Science Channel – Focused on Newton’s laws of motion.
- Physics Central – Animations, videos, images, current news blog, searchable experiments. This is a good all-around resource.
- Sixty Symbols – Videos about physics and astronomy, with a little chemistry thrown in for good measure. A fair amount of applied science here, so that students can see real-world applications of classroom lessons. There are a lot more than 60 videos.
- Math and science activities from EdInformation – A collection of explanations about measurements, calculations, and other essentials of physical science.
- Science of Cycling – From the San Fransisco Exploratorium, this site looks at all the simple machines involved in (you guessed) bicycles.
- Physics videos from WFU.edu – A collection of short demo videos to stream or download covering the usual concepts, plus general relativity.
Explore and enjoy! Happy learning.