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Education Programming Science

Simple, Portable Physics Simulations 145

ttsiod writes "I want to 'lure' my nephews/nieces towards Science and Engineering (to whatever extent that's possible, in the age of consoles). To that end, I have coded simple physics simulations, like falling snow, exploding fireworks, and 1D/2D wave simulations. My efforts are here, in the form of portable SDL mini-programs (GPL code, compilable under Windows, Linux, Free/Net/OpenBSD, Mac OS/X and basically every OS with GCC and SDL). Try them out, and do offer any suggestions on other programs that can trigger scientific interest in young minds. Myself, I am teaching them Python, so that they can code 'fireworks' on their own."
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Simple, Portable Physics Simulations

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  • by lawnboy5-O ( 772026 ) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @02:41PM (#29085199)
    When I was attending Syracuse U. in the early nineties, a cool elective class came up for us physics nerds attempting to align with the dawn of computer programing en masse. For a nerd like myself, this was absolutely appealing. It included small programs simulating exactly what you note, and beyond.

    I would say your efforts need to include the real world though - getting kids excited about mapping physics and mathematical colloquialisms on a computer also needs to have roots in the physically applicable world. It was this connection that kept me, and keeps me, interested in natural sciences and mathematics to this day.
  • Simple games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @03:02PM (#29085357)

    Make a simple game that involves particle physics. Wave physics is a bit too complicated, unless your nephews are in later classes of high school. I would suggest something like Scorched Earth.

  • Just buy some... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oh2 ( 520684 ) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @03:09PM (#29085395) Homepage Journal
    ...real fireworks for them instead. The real thing beats just about everything and eyebrows grow back, you know. :)
  • Re:FreeBASIC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @03:12PM (#29085417)
    In order to save children from the hell called Basic, Seymour Papert created a nice language called Logo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @03:15PM (#29085453)

    No, no, no.

    To get kids interested in Physics - or anyone for that matter, a physical real world demonstration is the way to go. The most popular physics professor at MIT is known for his lecture theatrics.

    Shooting metal balls across the room and having them derive an equation will teach them something.

    Computer simualtions are boring! It's worse than watching TV and they will learn nothing. No. Have them create experiments, duplicate classic ones - some of the classic E&M experiments are a hoot and they're easy to build and best of all, they're not a computer simulation. They are REAL LIFE.

  • Demoscene (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Sunday August 16, 2009 @05:11PM (#29086259) Homepage
    Isn't that what the Demoscene was doing back in the later-BBS days?
  • Re:FreeBASIC (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 16, 2009 @05:42PM (#29086433)

    Generations of programmers learned BASIC as their first language. To "save" people from BASIC might deprive them of an important learning experience, just like young programmers often don't learn assembly language anymore.

  • by robbarrett ( 84479 ) on Monday August 17, 2009 @02:24AM (#29088887)

    Totally agree. For me (I eventually became a research physicist), the connection point was a simple experiment in a high-school physics class where we were able to predict the equilibrium temperature of the combination of a heated brass weight and a styrofoam cup of water. It was the connection between the math and the reality that was amazing to me -- that you could know pretty much exactly what the result would be ahead of time...and the you could design a particular outcome and make it happen. I guess it is the mark of nerddom, but I was hooked.

Torque is cheap.