Visualizing Science Using
Learning Objects Created with
Mathematica

Andy Anderson
http://www.amherst.edu/~aanderson/

Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

Presentation Overview

The Complexity of Scientific Concepts

Many scientific concepts involve complex relationships in space and time, for example:

Hand-drawn classroom representations of scientific phenomena are typically sketchy and are neither reusable nor distributable.

Dynamic phenomena require multiple images to indicate time progression, and can be difficult to interpret.

Classroom representations are often difficult to reproduce by students.

Learning Objects for Scientific Concepts

Digital media provide a means to illustrate complex structures and motions, using:

They can help bridge the gap in student understanding.

Digital images and animations are examples of learning objects that are commonly viewable by any computer.

Such learning objects are reusable and improveable.

The World-Wide Web can integrate learning objects together with text and other media, and distribute them to the lecture hall or to students in their dorm rooms.

The portability of these learning objects also means that they can be easily shared with other educational institutions.

Learning Objects Created with Mathematica

Mathematica can be used to create scientifically realistic learning objects.

It offers:

Example: 3D Image for Geography

Example: 3D Image for Astronomy

Example: VR Object for Astronomy

The planets have circular or elliptical orbits, depending on their "tilt".

The light beam has a hyperbolic path.

Example: 3D Animation for Astronomy

The background image of this presentation is the Crab Nebula, which has a pulsar at its center.

Example: 2D Animation for Astronomy

Example: 2D Animation for Astronomy

Example: Correlated 3D Animation


This animation demonstrates the occurrence of solar and lunar eclipses...

Example: Correlated 3D Animation

Example: Interactive Logarithm Exercises

The Advantages of Mathematica

The Disdvantages of Mathematica

The Development of These Learning Objects

Summary

Acknowledgements

More Acknowledgements