A huge focus of the new NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) is on modeling. Sometimes modeling in a science class is simple (think about all of the time you had to draw a representation of atomic structures or molecular motion), but other times it can be pretty hard. Often we do labs in science class that “model” a particular topic that we are discussing in class, but NGSS is really about giving you the freedom to explore, create, and change your model based on new evidence.
Even though performing labs in a science is a common occurrence, the labs are often strict or stringent giving students no real freedom to explore. PhET (Physics Education Technology) from the University of Boulder Colorado is a great resource to find interesting simulations that model both scientific and mathematical principles.
Here are just a couple of essential questions that can be addressed by simulations found on PhET:
- How are perimeter and area related? Try this simulation!
- When you balance an equation, what do the molecules do? Try this simulation!
- What are the parts of an atom and what do they do? Try this simulation!
- How do you change the concentration of a solution? Try this simulation!
- How do you graph lines? Try this simulation!
- How are current and resistance related? Try this simulation!
- How does molecular motion change with temperature and state of matter? Try this simulation!
One of the best parts about PhET is that if you make an account (for free by the way), then you have access to hundreds of science labs or math activities that teachers around the globe have made using each simulation. They are sorted by grade level (Elementary, Middle School, and High School) and type (Lab, HW, Guided, etc…).
There are also free translations of the simulations into dozens of different languages!
Hopefully, you find a way of integrating PhET simulations into your lessons, and as usual: Happy Hunting!