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VPython and "Matter and Interactions"

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In trying to decide what computer language for dd to start with, I ran across VPython and Matter and Interaction (Chabay & Sherwood).  M&I claims to be a different approach to studying introductory physics, having the students use VPython to illustrate the concepts.  Reviews online seem to either love it or hate it.


The idea of merging programming into the physics course appeals to me, just because I'd rather be programming something useful than idle examples just for the sake of the code.


Is anyone familiar with this text?  How does it compare to Halliday or Knight?


Has anyone used VPython for physics?


Is trying to get calculus, computers and physics to interact possible or a pipedream?

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I took the Coursera physics by Georgia Tech which used Matter & Interactions and VPython. I did not use the textbook much - the online version was included in the course, but I had a lot of technical issues accessing it. The parts I did use had clear explanations.


The programming part of the class was really just about how to make VPython accurately model physical systems. It would be a fun addition to a programming class, but it is not programming textbook or class.


Here's a second option for doing physics with computer modeling:


I just bought Mathematical Modeling and Computational Calculus (by the Calculus Without Tears website berkelyscience.com) for DD. It uses MATLAB instead of VPython. We got it because her science fair mentor wants her to learn MATLAB. The physics in this book is a bit lighter - not as clearly a college level text as Matter and Interactions is. And, again, we bought it because we need MATLAB. She already knows how to program, so the fact that it's not a programming class per se doesn't bother me. She's already got an idea of what well-written code is supposed to look like.


The fun thing about computer models is how quickly you can change the constants -- what if the pendulum were shorter? What if we changed the gravity to the moon's or Jupiter's? etc. It's a fun way to do physics, just not sure it's a programming class. (In fact, I haven't done enough of the MMCC book to say it's a full physics class, either, just that it's going to suit our immediate needs and she will definitely have an easier time doing physics next year because of all the topics covered in this book.)



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  • 2 years later...

OK ...fast forward to Fall 2017;

I am considering Matter and Interactions(and I do see they have an improved VPyton) interface.


Did you use it? and di you like it? ANyone else want to comment?


I want Physics to have modern useful meaning, I'd like to find good recomendation for a first time programmers as wll.


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  • 3 weeks later...

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