FW: [Edu-sig] re: Education Arcade

Seabrook, Richard rhseabrook at aacc.edu
Sun Dec 14 16:08:00 EST 2003

Where simulations are interesting and even exciting teaching tools
is in the other extreme -- where the mapping from real to virtual is
uncontroversial, but the consequences of these known interactions
are unclear.  This is generally the case when we are simulating physics.

An orbit-integrator is a prime example: there's no question about
how gravity works, we can demonstrate that pretty trivially from
real-world experiments and observations.  On the other hand, the
consequences of this are extraordinarily complex and unpredictable.

A simulator can run that math at high speed and show you what
you can expect.

Furthermore, the actual experiment is basically impossible.  Even if
you had the multi-million dollar budget to launch a real object into
space, the actual playing out of the orbital mechanics takes years.
A simulation lets you run that fast-forward.
Further on yours and Ms. Creighton's -- in this century we'll move
human cognition from philosophy to physics, leading to reasonable
definitions for thinking and learning.  Perhaps then Ms. Creighton
will get better feedback.
Dick S.

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