Delivery methods of information have a huge impact on results whether in the form of raw data or in learning outcomes. The teaching of physics, chemistry or biology without practice makes little sense. Dry, theoretical knowledge will not turn someone into a highly qualified specialist. In the nineteenth century, scientists obsessed with their profession spent vast sums of money on equipping laboratories and conducting experiments. The twentieth century saw the mass production of tabletop kits for study in schools and universities. Reagents were introduced to chemistry sets for mixing in accordance with a predetermined procedure in order to obtain the required substance. Such experiments demonstrate the laws of nature in practice, allowing us to visualize theory.
The equipping of schools and universities is managed centrally by the government and is all too often inadequate. A fully equipped science laboratory, for example, would require significantly greater funding. These costs are feasible for top universities, but not for ordinary schools. The level of development in computer technology has made conducting micro- and macro-modelling processes possible. The idea arose to create a virtual kit for carrying out experiments. The scope of use of these sets would range from middle and high schools to large-scale firms.
Advantages of virtual experiments:
- no physical wear and tear of equipment;
- no waste caused by constant replacement of spent materials.
A modular software package has been developed, designed for use in various scientific fields. It has successfully provided a platform modelling natural environments with the help of diagnostics and laboratory experiments, used for training and scientific research. Visualization is achieved through a developed interface, containing components located both in the system kernel and in the form of plugins. Metalanguage is used to describe the management process and interaction between the computational kernel, visual components and test script. This creates an integrated environment, allowing for tailored experiences and designed for the average user without programming knowledge. There is the option of adding tutorial illustrations for students.
The environment for training experiments includes an editor allowing users to model scenes for investigation. Upon completion of work a file is saved to be added to the runtime environment. Sets of experiments can be used in different combinations depending on the course.
Students' results are recorded for review by the teacher. Detailed information is provided to explain the algorithms for module creation.
After installing the software, students and teachers can:
- carry out experiments that would normally be out of their means;
- carry out experiments in the laboratory and at home;
- carry out experiments without safety risks;
- increase levels of training through the number of experiments carried out;
- expand the testing range;
- gather experiments for training courses.
For educational institutions and laboratories the programme offers:
- an economic method of acquiring tools and equipment;
- an increase in the number of experiments on offer;
- timely and cost-effective upgrading of methodological materials;
- an increase in the quality of education for graduates and specialists.