I’ve been a big fan of some of the real world physics games that have appeared on the PC in recent years, and also on the iPhone, making use of its touchscreen.
One of my favourite pieces of software is called Phun, which is a brilliant 2D physics sandbox for PC, Linux and Mac. You can hand draw shapes, pin them in place, join them together with chains and springs and much more. You can create some very complicated systems.
Phun is freeware, and you can get the latest version from here: www.phunland.com.
Phun was developed by Emil Ernerfeldt in his MSc thesis project at the Department of Computing Science at Umeå university, Sweden. Emil now works for Algoryx Simulation AB – and he has continued to work on Phun – and has now produced a commercial version designed for education market called Algodoo which you can get from www.algodoo.com
As well as springs and gears, Algodoo also deals in light and optics – which starts to make it a rival to other software such as Crocodile Physics.
They’ve produced plenty of ready-made scenes that you can download and try out, as well as lesson plans which cover KS1 up to KS4.
Pricewise it looks very good- a single license is about €29, with bulk deals bringing that down quite a lot. You can also get a trial version of Algodoo as well to see what if can do.
Phun is still freeware – so try that to see if you like it. If you don’t want all the bells and whistles then stick with Phun.
It is a very cute bit of software and works brilliantly on an interactive whiteboard – but would also be good with a graphics tablet.