Contents

 

Preface *

Abstract *

List of acronyms *

1. Introduction *

1.1. Didactical background *

1.2. Research background *

1.3. Research problem and framework *

2. Perceptional experimentality in physics education *

2.1. Empirical conceptualization *

2.1.1. Dualism in empirical science *

2.1.2. Scientific and technological processes *

2.1.3. Concept formation and logic *

2.2. The conceptual structure of physics *

2.2.1. Hierarchical levels of concepts *

2.2.2. Quantities as processes *

2.3. Structured physics education *

2.3.1. Theory in physics teaching *

2.3.2. Basic types of approach *

2.3.3. Proceeding in the hierarchy of concepts *

2.3.4. Perceptional approach *

2.3.4.1. Meanings are created first *

2.3.4.2. Processes of empirical science in education *

2.3.4.3. Implications of the hierarchy of quantities *

2.4. Comparison of the perceptional approach with some other approaches and ideas about physics education *

2.4.1. Arons *

2.4.2. Redish’s principles *

2.4.3. Driver’s critique of empiricism; SCIS *

2.4.4. The learning cycle approach *

2.4.5. The modeling method *

2.5. The rationale of taking the perceptional approach as the didactical basis *

3. Microcomputer-based laboratory tools *

3.1. Definitions *

3.2. Arguments for and against using MBL tools *

4. Principles of operation of MBL systems *

4.1. General *

4.2. Operating principles of a computer and data I/O *

4.3. The principle of computer assisted measuring *

5. MBL system hardware *

5.1. Digital sensors *

5.2. Analog sensors, analog to digital conversion *

5.3. Sensor characteristics *

5.4. On measuring values of some quantities and sensor types *

5.4.1. Time *

5.4.2. Frequency *

5.4.3. Position, displacement, distance *

5.4.3.1. General *

5.4.3.2. On ultrasonic sensors *

5.4.4. Velocity sensors *

5.4.5. Acceleration sensors *

5.4.6. Measuring velocity and acceleration with position sensors *

5.4.7. Angle and rotation *

5.4.8. Temperature *

5.4.9. Voltage, current, resistance, conductance *

5.4.10. Magnetic flux density *

5.4.11. Force *

5.4.12. Pressure *

5.4.13. Sound *

5.4.14. Light intensity *

5.4.15. Intensity of ionizing radiation *

5.5. Noise and interference *

5.5.1. Sources of external noise and interference *

5.5.2. Coupling mechanisms for the interference *

5.5.3. Methods for reducing effects of noise and interference *

5.6. Signal conditioning elements *

5.6.1. Deflection bridges *

5.6.2. Amplifiers *

5.7. Conditioning of digital signals *

5.8. Data acquisition units *

5.8.1. Data acquisition unit types *

5.8.2. Interface circuits *

5.8.2.1. AD converters *

5.8.2.2. Digital inputs *

5.8.2.3. Counter/timers *

5.8.2.4. Control outputs *

5.9. Computer buses *

5.9.1. Expansion buses *

5.9.1.1. Expansion buses specific for PC-compatible computers *

5.9.1.2. Expansion bus specific for the Macintosh: NuBus *

5.9.1.3. PCI *

5.9.1.4. PCMCIA *

5.9.1.5. Performance comparison of expansion buses *

5.9.1.6. Characteristics of data acquisition units connected to an expansion bus *

5.9.1.7. Educational MBL systems with expansion bus interfaces *

5.9.2. Peripheral buses *

5.9.2.1. RS-232-C and other serial bus standards *

5.9.2.2. Centronics port and its enhancements *

5.9.2.3. SCSI *

5.9.2.4. Game port *

5.9.2.5. Educational MBL systems that use a peripheral bus *

5.9.3. Instrument buses *

5.9.3.1. IEEE 488 *

5.9.3.2. Other instrument buses *

5.9.3.3. The use of instrument buses in educational MBL systems *

6. The main functions of MBL software *

6.1. Instrument drivers *

6.2. Computation, data processing and presentation *

6.2.1. Numerical computation *

6.2.2. Graphical presentation *

6.2.3. Electronic spreadsheet *

7. The implications of computer system software *

7.1. Operating system *

7.1.1. General *

7.1.2. Process management *

7.1.3. Input/output *

7.2. User interface *

7.3. Information exchange between applications *

7.4. Main operating systems for MBL applications *

7.4.1. MS-DOS *

7.4.2. Microsoft Windows *

7.4.2.1. Windows 3.X *

7.4.2.2. Windows 95 *

7.4.2.3. Windows NT *

7.4.2.4. Windows 98, the future of Windows *

7.4.3. MacOS *

7.4.4. Linux *

8. The building of MBL application software *

8.1. Modularity is required *

8.2. Modular programming concepts *

8.2.1. Object-oriented programming *

8.2.2. Component-based programming *

8.2.3. Visual programming *

9. The requirements for a MBL system as set by the perceptional approach *

9.1. Research for finding the requirements *

9.2. Requirements for hardware *

9.3. Requirements for software *

9.4. The draft of an ideal MBL system *

9.5. Requirements proposed by others *

9.5.1. MacIsaac *

9.5.2. Scaife *

9.5.3. The Bremer Interface System *

9.5.4. An ideal MBL system proposed by the Physics Courseware Evaluation Project *

9.5.5. Standardization project in the UK *

10. The Prototype system *

10.1. General concepts *

10.1.1. Openness *

10.1.2. Ready-made and self-made component use *

10.2. Prototype components *

10.2.1. Sensors *

10.2.1.1. Commercial sensors *

10.2.1.2. UI probe *

10.2.2. Data acquisition units *

10.2.2.1. Universal Lab Interface *

10.2.2.2. Digital multimeter TES 2730 *

10.2.2.3. The digital storage oscilloscope Hitachi VC-6045 *

10.2.2.4. The data acquisition and control board PCM-DAS16 *

10.2.3. Application programming tools *

10.2.3.1. Visual Engineering Environment *

10.2.3.2. Visual Basic *

10.3. Application requirements *

10.4. Application programs *

10.4.1. Library functions *

10.4.1.1. Instrument drivers *

10.4.1.2. General and ULI specific sensor functions *

10.4.1.3. Graphics server *

10.4.1.4. Data processing and management *

10.4.1.5. Miscellaneous utilities *

10.4.2. Graphically controlled data processing threads *

10.4.2.1. Difference and Linear Fit: clarifying invariances and limiting processes *

10.4.2.2. Integrate *

10.4.2.3. Coordinate *

10.4.2.4. Momentum and Impulse *

10.4.3. Other data processing modules *

10.4.3.1. Edit Array *

10.4.3.2. Calculator *

10.4.3.3. Arbitrary Graph *

10.4.3.4. Spectrum *

10.4.4. Dynamic real-time display subsystem *

10.4.5. Calibration of sensors *

10.4.6. ProtoULI *

10.4.6.1. Data acquisition threads *

10.4.6.2. User interface *

10.4.7. ProtoMeter *

10.4.8. ProtoCard *

10.4.9. ProtoScope *

10.5. Difficulties encountered in developing the Prototype *

10.6. Other projects using visual programming in educational MBL *

11. Test experiments *

11.1. Dynamics: basic concepts *

11.1.1. Curriculum *

11.1.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.1.3. Implemented experiments *

11.1.4. Uniform motion *

11.1.4.1. Arrangements *

11.1.4.2. Experiments *

11.1.5. Non-uniform motion *

11.1.6. Inertial mass *

11.2. Acceleration and force *

11.2.1. Curriculum *

11.2.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.2.3. Implemented experiments *

11.2.4. Uniformly accelerated motion *

11.2.4.1. Arrangements and experiments *

11.2.5. Quantification of force *

11.2.5.1. Arrangements *

11.2.5.2. Experiments *

11.2.6. The testing of microscopic N II *

11.2.6.1. Arrangements *

11.2.6.2. Experiments *

11.2.7. The impulse - linear momentum theorem *

11.2.7.1. Arrangements *

11.2.7.2. Experiments *

11.3. Oscillatory motion *

11.3.1. Curriculum *

11.3.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.3.3. Implemented experiments *

11.3.4. The linear oscillator *

11.3.4.1. Arrangements *

11.3.4.2. Experiments *

11.3.5. The simple pendulum *

11.3.5.1. Arrangements *

11.3.5.2. Experiment *

11.4. Waves on a string *

11.4.1. Curriculum *

11.4.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.4.3. Implemented experiments *

11.4.4. Frequency of a string as a function of length and tension *

11.4.4.1. Arrangements *

11.4.4.2. Experiments *

11.4.5. Spectrum of a plucked string *

11.4.5.1. Arrangements *

11.4.5.2. Experiments *

11.5. The Doppler effect *

11.5.1. Curriculum *

11.5.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.5.3. Implemented experiment: buzzer on a rotating platform *

11.5.3.1. Background *

11.5.3.2. Arrangements *

11.5.3.3. Experiment *

11.5.3.4. Conclusions *

11.6. Capacitors *

11.6.1. Background *

11.6.1.1. Approach to the hierarchy of electric quantities *

11.6.1.2. Difficulties in practicing the idealized approach *

11.6.1.3. Alternative approach *

11.6.2. Curriculum *

11.6.3. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.6.4. Implemented experiments *

11.6.5. Common arrangements *

11.6.6. The capacitor law *

11.6.7. Capacitor systems *

11.6.7.1. Common arrangements *

11.6.7.2. Capacitors in parallel *

11.6.7.3. Capacitors in series *

11.6.8. The time dependency of a charging current *

11.7. Resistance *

11.7.1. Curriculum *

11.7.2. Integration of computer-assisted experiments into the curriculum *

11.7.3. Implemented experiments *

11.7.4. Resistance of a metal wire *

11.7.4.1. Arrangements *

11.7.4.2. Experiments *

11.7.5. Components that do not obey the macroscopic Ohm’s Law *

11.7.5.1. Arrangements *

11.7.5.2. Experiments *

11.7.6. Impedance of a capacitor *

11.8. Other tests *

12. Conclusions *

12.1. General *

12.2. Meeting the formulated requirements set by the perceptional approach *

12.3. Matching with the characteristics of the outlined ‘ideal’ system *

13. Future development and research *

14. References *

Appendix 1: A test program that uses two ULIs simultaneously *

Appendix 2: Student-level documentation examples *

Appendix 3: Downloading and installing the Prototype programs and the VEE run-time environment *