|| About MOP || About the Shockwave Files || History || Technical Requirements ||

 

About MOP

The Minds On Physics Internet Modules utilize a collection of carefully crafted questions to challenge students' misconceptions concerning physics concepts. Interactive Shockwave files have been combined with web-based instructional resources to assist students in becoming aware of and altering their conceptual understanding of the world of motion, waves and electricity. Fifteen learning modules composed of varying levels of difficulty have been created. Students progress through each level of the modules by correctly answering questions which are randomly selected from a bank of several questions. Immediate feedback, and direct links to web-based instructional resources (The Physics Classroom and the Multimedia Physics Studios) are provided. Students having difficulty with a given question can link directly to question-specific help for that question. The success of a student on any given module can be checked using a system of encrypted success codes.

 

The Shockwave Files - How They Work

The Shockwave files are created with a multimedia authoring product known as Macromedia Director. Director includes a scripting language known as Lingo. Each Shockwave file contains a bank of up to 50 questions. Lingo scripts are used to select a question from the bank, evaluate student answers, check on student progress on a sublevel and provide feedback and directions to the student. In effect, Lingo is the quarterback which directs the plays while the various questions and graphics are the players which show up on the field at Lingo's command. Upon the successful completion of a sublevel, an encrypted success code is generated based on name and ID information. This success code can be used to validate that a student completed the assigned sublevel(s).

 

History

The original Minds On Physics Internet Modules were constructed during the summer months of 1999 by three Glenbrook South physics teachers - Tom Henderson, Neil Schmidgall, and Brian Wegley. The project was supported by an NSTA/Toyota Tapestry grant - a generous grant provided by Toyota Motor Sales and administered by the National Science Teachers Association. With the grant money, software was purchased to develop the modules and summer stipends were provided to support the work of the three teachers. An online FileMaker Pro database was used to automatically track student progress through each module. The following school year, nine modules on mechanics topics were ready for use among Glenbrook South physics students.

Both teachers and students were instantly amazed by the ability of the modules to improve student understanding. Teachers marveled at the student interest over the modules and the high levels of cognitive engagement when working on the modules. Students found the modules both educational and fun. They often begged teachers to take them to the computer lab to work on "MOP". Some of those original students claimed to have become MOP-aholics.

The original modules suffered from a variety of design problems which were gradually fixed over the next couple of years. Additionally, seven other modules were developed to support students in the electricity, waves, and ray optics portion of the course. During the 2001-2002 school year, two major design problems surfaced that further hindered the usefulness of the modules. First, the original modules utilized a FileMaker Pro database; a piece of third party software was used to connect the database and the Shockwave files. Difficulties with the third party software required a change in the means by which data was sent to the databases on the web server. Second, the improper display of text within question fields on Windows 2000 platforms necessitated the need for a redesign of the means by which a question was presented to the student user. During the summer of 2002, the Minds On Physics design received an overhaul in an effort to fix these problems. In addition to these alterations, many of the original questions banks for the various sublevels of the program were rewritten and improved.

 

Technical Requirements

Use of the Minds On Physics Internet modules requires a single piece of web browser technology which are available free of charge. First, you will need to have version 7.0 (or higher) of the Shockwave plug-in. Shockwave is available free of charge from Download section of the Adobe web site. Directions for installation are provided there. Installation is highly automated and should take no more than a couple of minutes. Your role in the installation process will merely require that you select the version for your operating system and answer a few simple questions (name, e-mail address, etc.).

Minds On Physics should work in any browser which supports the Shockwave plug-in. Most browsers do. At this writing, the one notable exception is the Firefox browser.

 

Teachers who are interested in using the Minds On Physics Internet Modules with their classes can read more about it on a separate page.

 

 

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