Monday, January 31, 2011

Interactive Math and Science Simulations

I recently came across the PhET website project that was developed by the University of Colorado. I have found it to be a really great resource for all grade levels. Here is a description of the site taken directly from their about page:

PhET provides fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena for free. We believe that our research-based approach- incorporating findings from prior research and our own testing- enables students to make connections between real-life phenomena and the underlying science, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the physical world.

To help students visually comprehend concepts, PhET simulations animate what is invisible to the eye through the use of graphics and intuitive controls such as click-and-drag manipulation, sliders and radio buttons. In order to further encourage quantitative exploration, the simulations also offer measurement instruments including rulers, stop-watches, voltmeters and thermometers. As the user manipulates these interactive tools, responses are immediately animated thus effectively illustrating cause-and-effect relationships as well as multiple linked representations (motion of the objects, graphs, number readouts, etc.)

The website contains simulations for math, earth science, chemistry, physics and biology.  They are organized by subject and grade level. They can be used on an interactive whiteboard, linked to a website or Moodle course , or as part of a lesson or classroom center. By providing resources of this type for our students we are providing them with multiple means of  representation of information. This is a key component of the UDL framework.

Students may become inspired by reviewing these simulations. Through the use of screencasting or digital storytelling they may decide to create their own visual representations of topics.


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