Simulation & Modeling Tools
ExploreLearning has borrowed sound learning features from the video game world, such as collaboration and multiplayer, to guide their "gizmos" or math and science simulations. The content collection for K-14 is so comprehensive that other curricula would supplement rather than supplant these modeling tools. The graphics are pleasing without being overly complex. It is a subscription service but the fees, in contrast to other online collections, are very reasonable.
The Tracker Video Analysis and Modeling Tool allows students to model and analyze the motion of objects in videos. By overlaying simple dynamical models directly onto videos, students may see how well a model matches the real world. Interference patterns and spectra can also be analyzed.
Free online physics, chemistry, biology, earth science and math simulations from the University of Colorado, Boulder. The college is working to convert everything over from Java to HTML5.
Circuits Cloud shows the future of online simulations. Circuits Cloud is a free, online, in-browser tool that allows you to create and store electrical circuit diagrams and simulate what the circuit will do. This tool allows students, hobbyists and professional engineers to design and analyze analog and digital systems in real time before ever building a prototype. While free, you must set up an account to access the tools.
The Physics Classroom hosts Physics Interactives, a set of free, on-line simulations written in HTML5. We especially like the Roller Coaster sims. Each sim includes classroom activities and notes. Hint: to start a sim, click on "Launch Interactive".
Simulations have the potential to engage students in "deep learning" that empowers understanding as opposed to "surface learning" that requires only memorization. Simulations can be paused, giving time for students to assess what's going on. It brings the "real world" into the classroom without expense or safety issues. And simulations invite students to become participants. Read more in this interesting post.
The Demise of Java
Originally, most on-line simulations were written using Java. Java is the programming language with the coffee cup logo. Java programs were called applets. Unfortunately, serious security issues started to crop up, and most browsers and anti-virus programs now block Java programs no matter how much you try.
Flash has been a good, if somewhat limited, alternative. But it too has security issues and most tablets and smart phones will not run Flash. Flash is being phased out as well.
For K12, in particular, these new visualization tools are a boon for understanding complex phenomena.
Education Arcade is all about transforming kids into creators and explorers. They provide fun and accessible ways to explore real and virtual worlds, experiment with technology and use games to build math and science skills. The games, simulations and tools are designed with the educator in mind. You can use this technology to create powerful learning environments.
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• Treks and Primary Sources
• Video Resources
• Virtual Modeling for Learning Science and Math
• Virtual Schools Sampler