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== Review: Physics Laboratory in Mechanics By: Jason Compton ==
I was once a student of physics, so I think I was decently enough prepared
to review this product.
What I wasn't prepared for was the use of (shudder) bru by the installer
program for this 4-disk program. Yes, bru. For those of you unfamiliar
with it, it's the program behind HDBackup, the sabotage Commodore placed
in Workbench 2.x and above to make you think you could back up your hard
drive and retrieve it. So, I had to dig out my old WB disks in order to
get the program installed...
But enough complaining. Once it actually WAS installed, it was time to
get to business. PLIM resides in its own directory and is actually two
programs, to represent parts one and two of the program (merely a division
of the subject matter.) They cover kinematics, dynamics, statics,
universal gravitation, work and energy, impulse and momentum, and
The program itself is written in CanDo, and in rather unpleasing 640x200
and fairly low color. But the interface has been set up intelligently and
is well laid-out, describing the particular experiment being taught,
clueing the student to select an equation, and then proceeding with the
simulation. The buttons are certainly easy to distinguish and intuitive
The subject matter itself is presented well, although (as with all
educational software) is certainly only a suppliment to a full-blown
class. 3 experiments (easy/medium/hard) are given in each subject area,
with a logical progression between them.
One of the better parts of the program is the history and picture section,
with a summary of the basis of the experiment and either its creator or
the scientist who developed an important concept behind it. The pictures
are primitive, but are at least a diversion. Sounds and music are
included, and are also very basic.
The concepts are presented well, even if the experiments sometimes run
slowly-I found myself waiting a rather long time to draw 5 dotted circles
in a orbit experiment. My only real complaint with the material presented
is that there should be more of it: expanding the scope beyond mechanics,
at least in future products, would be appreciated. It seems only natural
to present electricity and magnetism on a computer, does it not?
In short, Lori Vinciguerra seems to know a great deal about physics and is
very interested in presenting it in an educational way. In this, she has
definitely succeeded. However, there are quite a few rough edges on the
program that prevent it from being a real grabber. Allowing instructors
to develop their own experiments certainly wouldn't hurt, either.
Hats off to OWL Software. It takes bravery to try educating people with
Amigas. It takes talent to actually pull it off, too.
460 Summer Avenue
Reading, MA 01867-3819