Virtual Reality as a Teaching Tool for Moon Phases and Beyond Documents

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Virtual Reality as a Teaching Tool for Moon Phases and Beyond 

written by Jack H. Madden, Andrea Stevenson Won, Jonathon P. Schuldt, Byungdoo Kim, Swati Pandita, Yilu Sun, T. J. Stone, and N. G. Holmes

A ball on a stick is a common and simple activity for teaching the phases of the Moon. This activity, like many others in physics and astronomy, gives students a perspective they otherwise could only imagine. For Moon phases, a third person view and control over time allows students to rapidly build a mental model that connects all the moving parts. Computer simulations of many traditional physics and astronomy activities provide new features, controls, or vantage points to enhance learning beyond a hands-on activity. Virtual reality provides the capabilities of computer simulations and embodied cognition experiences through a hands-on activity making it a natural step to improve learning. We recreated the traditional ball-and-stick moon phases activity in virtual reality and compared participant learning using this simulation with using traditional methods. We found a strong participant preference for VR relative to the traditional methods. However, we observed no difference across conditions in average levels of performance on a pre/post knowledge test.

Last Modified December 31, 2018

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