Dr. Robert and Gladys Dunn Memorial Grant: Universal Sandbox: Exploring Physical Laws through Astronomical Simulation

  • School Year: 2020-2021
  • Applicants: Derek Palmisano, Lead Teacher
  • School: Hall High School
  • Subjects: Science

Universe Sandbox 2 is software that enables physics and physical science students at Hall High School to perform simulations of physical interactions at astronomical scale based on initial conditions that they define.Through Universe Sandbox 2, students at Hall High School will engage in authentic inquiry related to key course concepts defined by fundamental physical laws of the Universe. Students at Hall High School will perform their own investigations, identifying questions that can be answered and hypotheses that can be tested through qualitative observations and quantitative measurements made within the Universe Sandbox 2 simulation, which are consistent with physical reality. The software provides many variables that can be adjusted or measured, such as an object's mass, velocity, size, temperature, composition, and position relative to other masses. Students will take control the flow of time as the simulation unfolds to enable easy tracking of measurements and observations at a rate best-suited for each student's unique needs, as gravity and other physical laws of nature show students what will happen next based on scenarios that they create. Inquiry enabled through Universe Sandbox 2 will stimulate the curiosity of Hall High School physics and physical science students while engaging these students in learning about physical laws and how those physical laws govern outcomes in our Universe and in our everyday life experiences.

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