Physclips is a multimedia introduction to areas of physics. Currently, it a fairly complete introduction to mechanics, waves and sound, and has some resources for other topics. For mechanics, waves and sound, it covers approximately the syllabus of an introductory university course in that discipline. Because it starts from the beginning, however, it also covers much of the material taught in high school physics courses.
Physclips works at three levels: elements, introductory presentations and supporting pages.
Movie clips, animations, still photos, montages, diagrams
We have made movie clips of some demonstrations of the sort that are typically performed in classrooms, some simple lab experiments and occasionally some more elaborate demonstrations. Usually, of course, a movie clip is inferior to a real experiment. Sometimes, however, the ability to examine it in slow motion is an advantage. In other cases, superposing vectors or other diagrams may add to the educational value of a movie clip.
Animations are often inferior to movie clips. An animation shows what the designer thought would happen. What the equations predict. A film clip shows what really did happen. Sometimes, however, animations have their advantages: we can hypothetically examine cases in which complications are omitted, or in which the financial or human cost would be great. Animations are economical in bandwidth, too.
Combinations of movie clips and animations can be useful. An animated graph or vector diagram can be useful, to draw attention to quantities that are not immediately obvious in the movie.
As well as the movie clips and animations, still photos, montages, diagrams are used here when they are appropriate. For the benefit of teachers, we have put many of these on our downloads page.
In the section on mechanics, each topic has a presentation, with voice-over. These are heavily illustrated lectures that introduce, develop and illustrate the important point. The information rate is high, and users are invited to use the 'pause' button, the scroll bar or to replay sections. Hyperlinks go to the supporting web pages for deeper and broader discussions.
Supporting web pages
For mechanics, waves and sound, these pages treat, in greater depth and breadth, the material in each section. They have hypertext anchors so that they can function as multimedia footnotes for the introductory presentation. They include short movie clips, animations etc, as appropriate.
Supporting pages cover a broader range than the material in the presentations. For instance, many students beginning mechanics will need introductions to calculus, vectors, graphing etc, so supporting pages on these topics are supplied. We are extending these pages as time permits.
How to use it
For students, we suggest running the introductory presentations to obtain an overview of each section. The presentations are short, but rich in information. It may be worth repeating them, or sections of them, and pausing to examine details more closely. It is often a good idea to pause when equations appear, in order to examine them more closely. Where more detailed explanation is needed or desired, there is often a hyperlink, so one can pause and pursue the link, if needed. The scroll bar may be helpful for revision and reference.
Teachers will probably go straight to the downloads, found below the splash page of each chapter, to seek potentially useful elements for your own classes
What's it for?
A huge amount of science, engineering and technology is founded upon the ideas covered here. That is why virtually all those studying in these and related disciplines undertake courses in these areas. Physclips is for such students, but we hope that it is also for those who may have a less professional interest in how the universe works. In all cases, George and Joe wish you good luck with your studies.