This video gives an overview of how to use the PhET Simulations in a K-12 classroom.
PhET suggests the following steps to use a simulation effectively in a class situation (either in a computer lab or if students have mobile devices/tablets):
- Start with open play – allow students to play with the simulation for 5 minutes to explore the simulation.
- Give the students an activity to explore the simulation – worksheet, experiment, or task (sample activities have been made by other teachers).
- Circulate the classroom – walk around to see what the students are doing, observe how they are using the simulation, help if they are having trouble
- Solicit student ideas – ask students individually what they think is happening in the simulation
- Help students make their own discoveries – encourage students to operate the sim by themselves. If a student seems stuck you can ask “I wonder if…..” and then make a suggestion eg. “I wonder if you can move the moon.”
- Check for understanding – look at the student worksheets and ask questions of individual students or small groups.
- Facilitate whole-class discussion – students discuss what they have seen in groups or as a class.
- Pull it all together – go back through the simulation and ask students to make observations, check for understanding
- Be flexible – sometimes things will go differently to what you expect.