Virtual Labs for High School Physics

Award Information
Department of Education
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Polyhedron Learning Media, Inc.
105 Carmel Rd., Wheeling , WV, 26003-
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Jeanne Finstein
Business Contact:
Jeanne Finstein
Research Institution:
Purpose: With national attention on the shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals, enrollment in science is expected to be on the rise in the years to come. Laboratory work is seen as an essential part of many STEM courses, because labs enable students to interact with natural phenomena and analyze collected data. Funding adequate labs, however, has become a challenge and many schools indicate they are not well equipped for laboratory science. It is estimated that a single classroom physics lab can cost $40,000 to $55,000, with an additional annual replacement and repair budget of $2,000 to $3,000. The purpose of this project is to develop a set of cost-effective and maintenance free web-based virtual labs that can fully replace or supplement hands-on labs in a typical high school physics course. Project Activities: The research team is developing all content and components for 24 virtual labs on topics such as displacement, velocity, acceleration of gravity, kinematics, and Newton's second law. In order to test the feasibility of implementing the technology in schools, the usability of the technology by high school students, and the promise of the product to improve student learning, a randomized trial will be conducted with 120 physics students from six classrooms in three high schools. The groups will be assigned to one of three treatments. One group of students will use the virtual labs as a replacement to traditional labs; one group will use the virtual labs as a supplement to a traditional hands-on lab experience; and one will be used as a control and will complete traditional hands-on labs only. Analyses will examine students' performance on a standardized physics exam before and after a semester long course.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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