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DIMENSIONAL ANAYLIS FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS USING EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE

A. Riveiro, J.C. Conde, F. Lusquiños

Universidade de Vigo (SPAIN)
The basic premise of dimensional analysis is that any physical principle must be independent of the unit system selected to express it. Then, when approaching to unfamiliar problems, dimensional analysis arises as a powerful tool to learn the main ideas and perceive the most important underlying principles in the problem. The main limitation of this technique is that this method does not give us, in general, exact answers. However, a comprehensive understanding in the problem is obtained. The application of this approach to explain physical laws is non conventional, in general, in the traditional education.
In this work, we present a methodology based in the application of dimensional analysis to explain well known physical phenomena. The utilization of educational software to easily simulate common physical laws is the starting point to show physical phenomenon. Then, the application of dimensional analysis can give a first insight to understand the underlying principles in the problem. The phenomenological law obtained in this way can be subsequently tested in the virtual laboratory from the educational software. Finally, a more refined analysis can be presented to obtain a full view of the problem.