Chaos at High School

Tamás Meszéna


We are faced with chaotic processes in many segments of our life: meteorology, environmental pollution, financial and economic processes, sociology, mechanics, electronics, biology, chemistry. The spreading of high-performance computers and the development of simulation methods made the examination of these processes easily available. Regular, periodic motions (pendulum, harmonic oscillatory motion, bouncing ball), as taught at secondary level, become chaotic even due minor changes. If it is true that the most considerable achievements of twentieth century physics were the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos theory, then it is presumably time to think about, examine and test how and to what extent chaos can be presented to the students. Here I would like to introduce a 12 lesson long facultative curriculum framework on chaos designed for students aged seventeen. The investigation of chaos phenomenon in this work is based on a freeware, “Dynamics Solver”. This software, with some assistance from the teacher, is suitable for classroom use at secondary level.

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