Physics is one of the most complicated subjects that high school students are asked to tackle. Computers offer multimedia and interactive possibilities that can provide educators with new ways of teaching these difficult concepts to students. Here are four well-regarded physics software packages, each intended for grades nine and higher:
• Crocodile Physics (http://www.crocodile-clips.com). This is a comprehensive package of educational materials and simulator software, segmented into 18 chapters and about 90 online demonstrations. The graphics are excellent and enable students to manipulate images on the screen as they seek to understand the material. The only downside is the complexity of the menus. Cost: $360 for a five-user license.
• Physics by Pictures (http://www.webassign.net/ pasnew). This package teaches the basics of mechanics, optics, and electric and quantum theories. It also provides good static graphics and auto-correction of online quizzes. The software also has a good section on the history of physics discoveries. Cost: $275, or contact developer for license information.
• Super Tutor Physics 1 Plus (http://www.homeworkhelp.com). This is a good introductory package, designed to engage newcomers. Animations and videos are good, but they might overwhelm the other forms of information presented. Teachers should know that the product includes advertisements for other software. Cost: $29.95, making it an option for parents to purchase as a home tutorial.
• The World of Physics (http://www.intellectum.com). This is a comprehensive system that considers subjects in modules, such as light and optics, heat and temperature, or electricity and magnetism. It provides both theoretical explanations and real-world examples of principles in action. This is a good program for teachers because they can track student progress through a system that is password-protected. Cost: $199.
abstracted from “Into the Digital Lab with Physics Software” from the Picks of the Month column