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Walter Fendt's Java Applets

Eleni Kyriaki teaches Science and Informatics in Brussels, Belgium, at the Greek Gymnasium/Lyceum and the European School III. She discovered the Fendt’s simulations Java Applets while surfing on the Internet seven years ago. Because she found it very useful, she has presented a number of them in class and encouraged her students to work with them. She has received only positive and enthusiastic feedback from her students of different skills and background; that is why she decided to give you more information about these Java Applets on Physics.

What are the Walter Fendt’s simulations?

Walter Fendt is a Mathematics/ Physics and Computer Science teacher at the Paul-Klee-Gymnasium in Gersthofen, Germany.
His simulations are computer programs which present experiments that are used in the Science curriculum. Both content and design are tailored to the needs of secondary level education. They combine usability and accessibility with functionality. The portal itself is a good example of a well-designed educational website featuring only necessary information. It is user-friendly and very pleasant to work with.
All the Java Applets are signed by Walter Fendt, whose collection of simulation programs is among the best educational material available on the internet.
On the website, the simulations are divided into several sections: Mechanics, Oscillations and Waves, Electrodynamics, Optics, Thermodynamics, Theory of Relativity, Physics of Atoms and Nuclear Physics.

What can I do with this software?

This software can be used in the classroom by the teacher. 
It is always good to start a lesson with a real experiment, go on with the theory and the set of equations. Then it is the right moment to demonstrate the simulation program and point out that it is based on the presented set of equations. If possible, you can give your pupils the opportunity to work in small teams with the simulation program and explore the applets.

Can you give me some examples?

  • The interference of two Circular or Spherical Waves

Some phenomena are described via complicated sketches, e.g. the interference of two circular or spherical waves of the same wavelength derived by two sources oscillating with the same amplitude and the same phase.

It can be useful for high school students to try to draw a simple sketch of the two waves. I would select the distance of the sources to be 3 or 4 times the wavelength, because then the sketch can be quite clear. The students should be encouraged to find the points of constructive interference and the points of destructive one. The simulation program also gives them an opportunity to experiment with different values of the source distance and the wavelength in short time and have a clear result. This way, your students get a better understanding of the phenomenon.

  • Electromagnetic Oscillating Circuit

It is not always easy to understand that there is an oscillation without any visible motion. The simulation shows in a very nice way the periodic change of the electric and magnetic field. You can try to use different values for the capacity and the inductivity. Thanks to the simulation, your students can have fun with a phenomenon which usually looks difficult to comprehend. 

Where can I find it?

- Walter Fendt’s Java Applets are available in several languages on a dedicated website.
- They can also be found on Xplora Knoppix,– DVD Knoppix, a live bootable DVD –based on the Linux Debian distribution and completely contained on a self booting DVD.

Pictures: Walter Fendt

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