IPPEX Mission Statement
IPPEX is all about - stuff you should know...
The Internet Plasma Physics Education
eXperience (IPPEX) site on the World Wide Web (at http://ippex.pppl.gov/)
allows students and teachers to participate remotely in scientific
research at the country's largest fusion energy laboratory.
The approach to the scientific material in IPPEX is, as Paul De
Hart Hurd ("Reforming Science Education: The Search for a New
Vision", 1984) recommends, "holistic, ecological,
qualitative, inductive, complex, and value-laden."
All students should develop a basic understanding of the
principles, methods and vocabulary of science. Unfortunately, only
one-fifth of US high school students enroll in physics courses. It
is hoped that hands-on, discovery-based approaches to
science will generate enthusiasm for science and dispel fears of
IPPEX uses interactive multimedia over the World Wide Web to
engage students in formulating questions and creating meaning from
their own experiences. Rather than passively learning facts and
following routine instructions, students solve problems and learn
how to find information and solutions in complex, non-linear
material (as actual scientists must). Some activities are similar
to a video game or a CD-ROM presentation. Abstract concepts, such
as nuclear energy, are developed from concrete experience and
examples from everyday life.
Engaging background material on energy, matter, electricity,
magnetism and the laws of motion is woven into a scenario that
motivates today's plasma scientists: "By better understanding
the forces of the universe we can harness the energy of the sun
and stars to improve human life in an environmentally responsible
Students create a knowledge base that helps them operate a virtual
tokamak (a fusion energy device) and analyze data from the actual
experiment (which may have been acquired just minutes before) in
the same way that professional physicists do.
While motivation from and discussions with teachers and other
students is vital to learning, interactive web-based learning can
be individual and self-paced. Students who feel threatened by the
complexity of science may find web-based learning more appealing.
The path through the knowledge web can be tailored to individual
needs, whether for a special project in a gifted-and-talented
program or for students who need more time to digest material.
IPPEX addresses 5 of the NJ Core
Curriculum Content Standards for Science (from the February, 1996
5.1 All students will learn to identify systems of interacting
components and understand how their interactions combine to
produce the overall behavior of the system.
5.2 All students will develop problem-solving, decision-making and
inquiry skills, reflected by formulating usable questions and
hypotheses, planning experiments, conducting systematic
observations, interpreting and analyzing data, drawing
conclusions, and communicating results.
5.5 All students will integrate mathematics as a tool for
problem-solving in science, and as a means of expressing and/or
modeling scientific theories.
5.8 All students will gain an understanding of the structure and
behavior of matter.
5.9 All students will gain an understanding of natural laws as
they apply to motion, forces, and energy transformations.
IPPEX uses a variety of presentation approaches. For example,
open-ended questions are used in some cases and, in others,
answers to multiple choice questions can be e-mailed in. Some
modules require students to proceed screen by screen, while others
present overview material at the top level and students can delve
into areas that interest them via "hot-links" in the
text. Feedback from teachers, students and formal educational
assessments may help us understand what works best for which
Personal background material is presented on the physicists and
engineers to make the science more personal and value-laden.
Version 1 of IPPEX was produced during the fiscal year 1996 at the
Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory as part of a
National Science Foundation grant, administered by the Center for
Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at the Stevens
Institute of Technology. In fiscal year 2001 (which started
October 1, 2001) the IPPEX web site will be in Version 7. This
version of IPPEX web site will be field tested and extended to fit
better with classroom curricula and with science education