Virtual Laboratories - Introduction

With the development of new computer technologies, JAVA--an interactive multimedia programming language, and the WorldWideWeb, it is now possible to simulate engineering and science laboratory projects on a computer. With Internet access, it is now possible to offer students "virtual laboratories" via the WWW or CD-ROM. Experiment-oriented problems can be offered without the overhead incurred when maintaining a full laboratory.

This virtual laboratory, which accompanies the Johns Hopkins University course 500.101 What is Engineering? is an example of the use of this type of technology. The labs listed below are WWW-based engineering/science experiments developed for beginning science and engineering students. The objective of the course and the virtual laboratory is to introduce students to experimentation, problem solving, data gathering, and scientific interpretation early in their careers--perhaps as high school seniors or college freshmen. Ordinarily this exposure would be offered to students in their junior or senior year in a design lab.

The experiments which follow are written in JAVA and are fully interactive. As such, they require that the student access them using the Web browser Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 (or later) operating within a 32-bit operating system (e.g., Windows 95, Windows NT, Unix) and with a display capability of at least 256 colors. (Netscape 3.01 (or later) may also be used with these modules. But, within some operating systems, this browser introduces idiosyncracies in the modules' operation. Earlier versions of Netscape, including 3.0, will not work.) Further, within these experiments are MPEG movie sequences which may require additional software--an MPEG viewer, e.g., VMPEGWIN which is available as demonstration shareware (sufficient for these experiments). This is a project under development. Expect modifications ( and additions and removals).

This work is being supported by a grant from the GE Fund.

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