While not ideal, I’ve learned to adapt to (and sometimes adore) digital simulators and online interactive tools. Science teachers know, hands-on is best. But in these times, it’s not always a possibility. Adjusting my curriculum to a distance learning approach yet aspiring to remain true to the Next Generation Standards and the 5E Model has been a challenge. Fortunately, I was able to locate MANY digital simulation tools to support my instruction.
Here is a list of some GREAT FREE simulation tools that you can use, and in some cases, some resources that will help you integrate these simulations into your instruction.
#1. PHET (free) These fun, free digital interactive simulations sourced through The University of Colorado at Boulder gave us quite a scare recently as support for the Flash player was abandoned by Adobe. Fortunately, the developers have been hard at work revitalizing these resources as HTML5. Covering Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology and Earth Science, there are SO MANY free options to support your curriculum.
Here’s a FREE RESOURCE to support MS-PS1-7 using PHET:
#2. CK12 (free). The CK12 Exploration Series offers a LARGE variety of simulations in Physics and Chemistry to support learning. The sims list the NGSS standards that they are aligned to and many come with companion worksheets.
Here’s a FREE RESOURCE to support MS-PS1-2. Physical/Chemical Changes using the CK12 Interactive
#3. Physics Aviary (free). These free Physics Aviary labs and experiences were designed to run anywhere and be cross platform. While their reach extends into High School (particularly Physics) I found many of them extremely useful in my Middle School classroom due to their simplicity and how they are designed to isolate specific goals. My favorites were the games that allowed my students to ‘virtually’ measure with a ruler, practice using a triple beam balance and reading a graduated cylinder.
Here’s a FREE RESOURCE showing how to integrate the Physics Aviary games into a digital interactive notebook.
#4. PBS Learning. This site is more than Sims. With videos, lessons and interactives for ALL subject areas there’s MUCH to be discovered. I really like this SIM for studies of Energy: http://d3tt741pwxqwm0.cloudfront.net/WGBH/conv16/conv16-int-rollercoaster/index.html
#5. Gizmos. (free 30 day trial). While not free, Gizmos makes this list because it provides hundreds of well thought out simulations to support discovery AND provides digital companion worksheets to support their interactive labs. One feature I really appreciate is the fact that the worksheets can be downloaded and edited to fit your own needs.
#6. MergeExplorer. ($99.99 Subcription) It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE MergeCube fan. This little cube is billed as providing you the ability to hold a hologram in your hand. And that’s really what it does! Their MergeExplorer app is available on both iOS and GooglePlay. In it, they’ve built dozens of instructional materials with companion interactives viewable on the Merge Cube. Students can investigate a smoking volcano, examine a great white shark, and hold the earth in the palm of their hands. They can even dissect a digital frog!
#6. CoSpacesEDU. (Get a FREE trial using code: COSMARYHO). Upon first glance, one wouldn’t think CoSpacesEDU would make it on this list of simulations as CoSpacesEDU is considered a AR/VR Building Platform. But once you’re in there exploring, you realize how great it CAN be to support learning by creating your OWN simulations…or even better, by having students create them! CoSpaces allows you to create ANYTHING you can imagine from virtual water cycles to Rube Goldberg machines. It even supports the uploading and labeling of 360 photos. Imagine providing a photosphere image of a location you’re studying with labels and links embedded in that image! Teachers can virtually share these interactive images with their students to demonstrate concepts that otherwise night not be accessible to them.
While exploring for SIM ideas for this post, I came across these other promising possibilities. While I’ve not used them myself, I thought it would be helpful for reference purposes to list what I stumbled across:
<Coming Soon!!> BrainPOP Science
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