Learning Resources

students digital learning resources
(Image via Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0)

General Relativity

Einstein's general theory of relativity challenges our classical understanding of gravity, space, and time. New technologies offer modern ways of teaching these abstract relativistic concepts.

 

Within project ReleQuant, I developed a digital learning environment about general relativity that brings Einstein's mind-boggling theory to physics classrooms.

 

The resources make innovative use of interactive and collaborative modes of learning and foster qualitative understanding of key concepts in general relativity.

 

The design of the learning environment is a result of iterative class room trials in collaboration with physics teachers to guarantee an authentic learning experience for students. 


Free fall in curved spacetime

Most models of general relativity, such as the popular rubber sheet model, only use spatial curvature to explain gravity. However, gravitational phenomena stem from deformations both in space and time. We have developed an interactive warped-time model that acts as a convenient supplement to the rubber sheet model and that builds on a relativistic generalisation of Newton's first law. We use Einstein's free fall thought experiment and a classical height-time diagram to explain how warped time gives rise to gravity. Find instructions on how to use the model here.

 

The warped-time model allows students to compare Newton and Einstein's theories of gravity by moving a slider between a classical and a warped height-time diagram.  Credit: Magdalena Kersting 2019 Phys. Educ. 54 035008
The warped-time model allows students to compare Newton and Einstein's theories of gravity by moving a slider between a classical and a warped height-time diagram. Credit: Magdalena Kersting 2019 Phys. Educ. 54 035008

Gravity and warped time

Curved space and warped time?!

Many relativistic concepts can seem confusing at first. Together with a physics teacher and two experts in modern physics, I have identified three particlulary confusing issues in general relativity. We explain the conceptually tricky concepts and present instructional strategies that are suitable at the secondary school level. By combining pedagogical and content-specific perspectives, we hope we can support teachers in deepening their knowledge of relativistic phenomena and teaching these topics in the classroom, too.

The distortion of the time-axis in a warped height-time diagrammed can be made precise using the principle of equivalence.  Credit: Magdalena Kersting et al 2020 Phys. Educ. 55 015023
The distortion of the time-axis in a warped height-time diagrammed can be made precise using the principle of equivalence. Credit: Magdalena Kersting et al 2020 Phys. Educ. 55 015023

Teacher Workshops

To familiarise teachers with our digital learning resources, I hold professional development workshops. Please get in touch to inquire about upcoming workshops.

Feedback

Have you used our learning environment in your class room? Please let me know what you think. I would love to hear about your experiences with our resources!

Other Resources

If you want to find more useful material on teaching and learning of Einsteinian Physics, drop me a line or take a look at these educational projects: