We are currently piloting a range of computer simulated science experiments as 3-D virtual environments. These are rendered on a PC in 3-D and use photographs of specic parts of the actual apparatus as textures to add realism to the simulation. In particular, photographs are used to represent the consequential views of an experiment. These particular views may also be animated depending on the state of the experiment. The work combines the photographic approach of the Interactive Screen Experiments (ISEs) with the advantages of a fully simulated 3-D environment where the user can interact with the apparatus in a more natural and intuitive way. The potential advantages are that users can quickly adapt to the environment and in particular the controls. They gain realistic views of the physicality of the experiment as they are not just seeing it from a particular viewpoint, but from wherever they see t to place themselves within the experiment's scene. They are immersed in the experiment in a way that mitigates some of the objections to online as opposed to real laboratory experimentation. It is also the case that the results of an initial calibration or setup carry over into the main part of the experiment. This is perceived as an extremely important teaching element of Physics practicals as the user learns that care in setting up an experiment is an essential part of being able to get good results. Furthermore there is no need to represent scales, read-outs or controls as separate parts of the interface; these can all be rendered at their correct physical positions within the experiment. The rst of these experiments based on the use of a diffraction grating has been fully implemented and has been evaluated with a Physics A level class. The application and its evaluation will be presented. A more complicated experiment using a spectrometer has also been modelled which raises issues of complexity. These issues will also be discussed
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