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Interactive Simulations for Science

blendedlearning's picture

One of the hazards of teaching science outside of a classroom setting is that there's no way for students learning on their own to access all the traditional experiments and visualization tactics available in schools. Blended learning provides alternate methods for delivering those simulations and visuals to students working independently and hoping to further their studies outside of the classroom.

Resources covered:
HHMI Biointeractive
PhET Interactive Simulations
KDE Step

Step is the KDE Education Project's interactive physical simulator. The Step Handbook explains that the simulator works by allowing users to place defined bodies in the simulator and then apply forces. Users can alter the parameters of the bodies and forces to see how they respond to the laws of physics. The tutorials include bodies and springs, motors and forces, and joints. Because the simulator requires a fairly complex understanding of the rules involved, it is better suited to use by educators and higher-level students.

PhET's Interactive Simulations are created and hosted by the University of Colorado at Boulder. The simulations are catalogued by grade-level and span from the Elementary School through University levels. Teachers can browse existing simulations or create their own, explained in the Teacher Ideas & Activities section. The simulations use simple, interactive controls to animate cause-and-effect relationships.

Biointeractive, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, provides free, interactive resources for science teachers and students. The resources include animations, lectures, virtual labs, and other interactive features. Biointeractive also offers free mobile apps including Earth Viewer, the Virtual Bacterial ID Lab, and Click and Learn. While all three of these resources function differently, they provide useful (and fun!) ways of visualizing scientific concepts and experiments.