How to

How to use PhET Simulations

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):

  1. Start with open play – allow students to play with the simulation for 5 minutes to explore the simulation.
  2. Give the students an activity to explore the simulation – worksheet, experiment, or task (sample activities have been made by other teachers).
  3. 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
  4. Solicit student ideas – ask students individually what they think is happening in the simulation
  5. 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.”
  6. Check for understanding – look at the student worksheets and ask questions of individual students or small groups.
  7. Facilitate whole-class discussion – students discuss what they have seen in groups or as a class.
  8. Pull it all together – go back through the simulation and ask students to make observations, check for understanding
  9. Be flexible – sometimes things will go differently to what you expect.
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