While we love hands-on activities, some experiments are just too hard for students to perform successfully and consistently. For example, Coulomb’s law is tough in the best circumstances, so few physics instructors do more than assign homework problems on this topic.

Pivot Interactives is a browser-based collection of videos and analysis tools that enable students to confront real phenomena (not simulations), select experimental parameters, and make careful measurements. For example, the Coulomb’s law activity is not a single video, but a family of videos that vary charge sign and pairing. A student chooses the experimental parameters for subsequent measurements.

A ruler overlay allows separation measurements while a scale provides force information in a Pivot Interactives activity.

In another activity, students look at longitudinal waves and can select among 50 different drive frequencies. In the classroom it is difficult to set up experiments with transverse waves. However, these videos enable easy exploration and data collection.

Layered tools on the videos allow spatial and temporal measurements; students must decide what to measure before doing so. Simple graphing and fitting tools allow student-driven analysis to drive quantitative understanding of what they have seen, including considerations of experimental uncertainty. Couple all this with a collection of classroom-tested, easily-modifiable exercises using the videos (complete with instructor notes), and you have a new way to extend the critical thinking tools of your students.

High school licenses are $5 per student, per year. College licenses are $10 per student per term, per course.

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