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Dear Teachers and Tutors,

We are pleased that you are interested in our learning environment, "Physics Brain-Teasers" (www.denkwerkstatt-physik.de) and would like to guide you through it. We will make some recommendations for using this learning environment effectively and successfully.

The Physics Brain-Teasers website invites young people to engage in physics! It had been conceptualized for students at Secondary School. With Physics Brain-Teasers we implement the claim "More thinking, less calculating!" (Schecker & Klieme (2001). "Mehr Denken, weniger Rechnen." In: Physikalische Blätter, 57, 7/8, 113 - 117). Consequently, we focus on fostering a qualitative scientific comprehension. Through pointedly formulated, brain-teasing problems, students are motivated to deal with physics laws. Our free, online accessible learning environment enables different individual ways of learning and promotes the confidence necessary to be successful in physics.
The Physics Brain-Teasers are intended to impress upon students the concepts of physics phenomena, as well as to correct any misconceptions that students may have had previously. To support the process of learning by solving the question, additional tasks are implemented. Students may choose between different helpful hints, which, also, promote their problem-solving competencies. Additionally, there are several details in a Toolbox to serve as a reminder of knowledge acquired at school.
The Helpful Hints should be used by students if they don't know how to solve the brain-teasing problem, or if their first answer (resp. first guess) was wrong. They include different stimuli to find a solution, for example, by transferring knowledge, by experimenting or by solving graphically. Students choose their own path so it is possible to adjust the cognitive demands of the task to individual competencies, needs, and interests. If the process of learning is optimal, then students will find an answer to solve the brain-teasing problem in a relatively short time and choose the button "I've got it!". Ideally the answer will be correct now; however, if there was a mistake and no success, learners will be told to get another hint and so it goes until such time that the correct answer will be found. The individual, selectable hints can be combined and, also, hints can be rerun by the learner as often as needed.
Solutions are designed as a Multiple-Choice-Format with only one correct answer. Distractors are there to represent answers generated with common faulty concepts. After giving the correct answer, it is possible to get an extensive explanation (sample solution) too. So we like to stimulate contemplation about growth of individual expertise and competences.

Thereby, for students to get an once-over on how to use the Physics Brain-Teasers Website, we recommend instructing students to go to the "How to solve the tasks", which is found under the "Help"-button. After a short discussion, it will be best to practice working on one of the tasks collectively at first. Please, give your students an opportunity to prove different Helpful Hints. Solely for experimenting, it is necessary to prepare something. You will need to provide some materials, but most of them are common household items so it will be no problem for students to work at home also. Often it is possible to verify the results of experiments by video.
By using Physics Brain-Teasers students will reach success within a relatively short time and gain several problem solving strategies. If students utilize Physics Brain-Teasers again and again, it promotes the development of their perceived self-efficacy in Physics.
The Physics Brain-Teasers program is suitable to supplement physics classes and may, for example, be used in free work phases, group work or homework. Our learning environment provides opportunities for individualized, bilingual learning (English / German) and, also, encourages discussions about physics questions. It offers teachers and tutors facilities for internal differentiation.

The task pool was created with the help of students attending our teacher training course of study in physics. New tasks are added continuously. We will gladly answer your questions about the usage of our Physics Brain-Teasers and look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Please send your mail to the project management of Physics Brain-Teasers, specialist contact person Evelin Schröter, at University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd, Physics Department ().
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