Tecat Enterprises designs educational tools and training materials in various areas of science and technology.
The purpose of these tools is to improve learning and to simplify the understanding of science concepts.
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Visualization Techniques

Understanding involves two perceptual qualities or concepts: Concrete  and Abstract.
Concrete quality deals with real or actual things that a person can register information through his/hers five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
Abstract quality allows a person to conceive ideas, visualize and understand things that one cannot actually see.
When using abstract quality, a person is using one's intuition and imagination.

Too often abstract concepts at schools are taught by using methods that do not aid in understanding of concepts. Science textbooks particularly seem to be written and illustrated in a manner that frequently lack many fundamental instructional techniques. Abstract science topics are often explained only with aid of mathematics. The problem is that mathematics itself is abstract --> there are no rules but only assumptions. By trying to explain an abstract concept with an abstract method can create a situation where the level of understanding decreases and the level of ambiguity increases.
A method that in early years of education is usually beneficial is "doing it". That is applying the knowledge gained in a class room such as conducting experiments and observing demonstrations. However, at high school and college level this method is rarely successful in increasing students' level of understanding of the study subject. In-class demonstrations are helpful but not very effective specifically when dealing with abstract science topics. If the student does not understand the topic, the relevant lab experiment seldom improves the understanding of that particular topic. Too often the main purpose of the lab experiments is to conform mathematically derived results. Typically the only benefit derived from labs hours is the experience of using many test equipment.

One good method to help a student to understand and to visualize an abstract concept, such as a transistor operation, is to introduce an object (or device) that he/she can identify and has similar characteristics as the topic being studied. It should be noted that this device does not have to be real or operational. Although Eureka has hundreds of good examples of the use of visualization techniques, we have chosen a transistor as our example because a transistor operation is quite difficult to understand even for many electronics students. It can be difficult to visualize the millions of electrons that form the electric current flowing across a transistor and how this current is controlled. For a person trying to comprehend or picture this in his/hers mind can be an overwhelming task.   
In Eureka's Bipolar Junction Transistors (chapter 27), we begin the explanation of a transistor by using a valve as a visualization aid. A valve, such as water valve, can be used to visualize the basic operation of a transistor.
In a sense what we have done is taken an abstract object, a transistor, and for visualization purposes compared this object to a less abstract object, a valve, that is much easier to visualize.

Click the link to the beginning of the chapter 27 and read the first two pages (p. 238 - 239). This should give evn to a layperson a good mental image of the transistor operation. The two subsequent pages (p. 240 - 241) show how a typical textbook begins the explanation of transistors.

Which pages help you better to visualize the transistor operation?




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