Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SimNewton Helps Students Think Like Engineers and Scientists

Engineers and scientists look at systems from many viewpoints. They look at images, videos, charts and text. These views together allow the professional to understand the system much better than any single view would. Software products that enable multiple views cost upto tens of thousands of dollars and take considerable effort to master. Jobs that require facility with such software are often the highest paid in the company and those workers are held in high esteem.

So it makes sense to try to integrate similar software in the curriculum at all levels of education, to prepare students to tackle complex problems using powerful software. This is the idea behind SimNewton - to let students work and think like scientists by looking at real world systems from many viewpoints - as shown in the figure below.

The figure shows a bouncing ball being simulated in SimNewton which provides four different views to students: animation, text and images, YouTube video and charts. Together these views allow the student to gain deeper insights into the dynamics of a bouncing ball than would be possible with just one of the views.

SimNewton is free for six months and is simple to learn, as is evident from the following brief instructions that were provided to students at the first SimNewton pilot conducted at Fremont High School near San Francisco last May:

1. Open the Safari Browser: Finder Face > Applications > Safari
2. Go to www.siminsights.com
3. Click on the orange button in the top right: “Sign In”
4. Click on a type of account (Google or Yahoo)
5. Enter your log in information
6. Click on “New” to make a model

Thats it! There is no users manual, reference guide or FAQ list. The students appreciated the simplicity of SimNewton. One student wrote:

"What my group and I liked about SimNewton was its easy-to-use ability. It is simple and efficient..."
-Ben A.

Please visit www.siminsights.com for more student quotes and try out SimNewton yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment