Optilab: design and development of an Integrated virtual laboratory for teaching optics
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The international research and experience have proved that the approach of studying subjects with the help of computer and multimedia applications can exceed, to one degree, technical and instructive restrictions of classic school Science laboratories. The "virtual laboratories" which simulate, by means of visual and functional entities, physical phenomena or experiments in the screen of computer, develop the dynamics that provide the modern multimedia technology. Basic characteristic is the technique of interaction, the direct manipulation of objects and parameters and the ability of presenting interconnected multiple representations of the phenomena under study. As result, beyond the support of classic laboratorial approaches, new possibilities and prospects are introduced that extend the limits of methods of classic laboratory and create a technologically enriched environment in which the active and exploratory learning is facilitated. In this work, we present the design and development of a Visual Lab in the field of Optics. The laboratory is developed in Java3D and covers the fields of Geometric and Wave Optics. A unique feature of the lab is the co-existence of a “model space” which runs along with the actual “lab-space” (the “Cosmos”) and which presents a model of the experimental setup in real time.