Science and Mathematics Simulations

For the Student

These Science and Mathematics Simulations (SciMS) and associated teaching packages are being developed to assist student learning at undergraduate level. Simulations have been incorporated into the syllabus of a number of courses and evaluations have been performed to investigate the effectiveness of the approach. Select a module by clicking on the relevant icon above.

For the Educator

Active learning strategies have been widely introduced as an improved way of assisting student learning. In the “Flipped Classroom” approach, formal lectures are replaced by interactive discussion sessions with content delivered to students beforehand, usually through the use of on-line videos. In physics classes at the University of Queensland, we have adopted the approach of Mazur where students are expected to prepare for lectures by completing a textbook pre-reading, and the interactive classes are facilitated using electronic feedback devices. This style of teaching has led to a demonstrated improvement in students’ ability to understand complex physical concepts (see Drinkwater et al, 2014). We have further developed the pre-reading aspect of this approach by introducing on-line interactive lecture preparation modules for some of our courses. This project, Five Minute Physics project, was highly successful in encouraging our students to complete the pre-reading, and was very popular amongst students.

The great success of this approach has led us to consider how further improvements can be made. One pathway towards deeper learning is to use interactivity. In our Five Minute Physics modules this is achieved using simulations – scripts that allow students to change/control a parameter of the system and observe the results. In this project, we seek to take this concept further by developing simulations with associated teaching packages that can be used for lecture preparation, in-class activities, and assessable work completed by students outside class. We aim to do this across a number of courses in physics and mathematics. The project addresses several important aspects of our teaching goals:

  • Target large courses and/or program-level change.
  • Add value to the on-campus experience for students. A goal of this work is to ensure that students are better prepared for on-campus contact sessions. This they can do by using and understanding the simulations.
  • Increase the flexibility of the modes of study. The simulations provide a new and more interesting approach when compared to current preparation modes (text, images, video).

We make these pages available to all educators. Feedback and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Web Browsers

These pages have been developed using html, Javascript and cascading style sheets. All modern browsers are capable of reading such script. However, standardisation across various platforms (Mac OSX, Windows, iOS and Android) and across various browsers (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, ...) leaves a lot to be desired. The modules have been tested across a range of platform/browser combinations. They have been to function with full (or close to full) capability on

  • Mac OSX using Safari/Chrome/Firefox
  • Windows 8, Windows 10 and Linux using Chrome/Firefox
  • iPad with Safari
  • iPod Touch with Safari
  • Android tablets with in-built browser

Some pages use features introduced by HTML5, you may need to update your browser to the newest version to support these features (pages have been tested on Safari 10.0.3, Firefox 47.0.1, and Chrome 56). Known issues still exist with the use of Internet Explorer and Chrome under Windows 7 (missing videos and simulations) and a number of other platform/browser combinations. If you note particular issues then please provide feedback to the contact listed at the bottom of the page giving a clear description of the problem and listing the platform and browser types and versions. If you experience any issues then we recommend ensuring you have installed the latest update of your browser and/or trying a different browser. Updates to the pages will be regularly made in an attempt to overcome the issues where possible.

Research Team

  • A/Prof. Tim McIntyre, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • A/Prof. Tony Roberts, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Dr. Margaret Wegener, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Dr. Kelly Matthews, Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, UQ
  • Dr. Juan Carlos Ponce Campuzano, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Elise Kenny, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ
  • Isaac Lenton, School of Mathematics and Physics, UQ

Additional Web Development by Trevor Daniels, Integral Software

Questions about the project should be directed to Tim McIntyre


Funding for this project has been supplied by the University of Queensland through the Technology Enhanced Learning Grant Scheme, 2015/16.

Authorised by: Head of Physics

ABN 63 942 912 684;

CRICOS Provider No:00025B