Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Marius Schamschula

    Marius Schamschula

    Assistant Professor
    May 16, 2016 | 12:19 p.m.

    We use PhET simulations as part of the TPACK component of the APEX project. Thanks so much for providing these useful simulation tools!

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 06:02 p.m.

    Thanks Marius! We’re always happy to hear about the use of PhET simulations by other projects. One of our goals from the very start of PhET has been to make the simulations as flexible as possible to address multiple uses and contexts.

  • Icon for: Arthur Camins

    Arthur Camins

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 02:45 p.m.

    Emily,

    Can you say bit more about:
    What is a PhET Simulation?
    What features make them especially useful across diverse learners?

    Thanks,
    Arthur

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 06:28 p.m.

    Hi Arthur,

    Each PhET simulation centers around a foundational concept in science or mathematics and provides an open-ended exploratory environment for students to interact with. One of the features that we think make PhET simulations unique is our use of implicit scaffolding – which is the use of implicit cueing through design choices (rather than the use of onscreen or voiced instructions) to guide students into productive inquiry. While we encourage teachers and other implementers of the simulations to provide the scaffolding they feel appropriate to support the specific needs of their student population (for example, with the use of a guided-inquiry handout), our implicit scaffolding approach supports a very student-friendly, exploratory space. This allows students to jump right into productive question-asking and investigations without requiring a lot of explicit guidance regarding exactly how to interact with the sim and what might be useful observations to make.

    Currently, PhET simulations convey information to students through a highly visual interface and some use of sound effects. This design can be particularly useful for students who are deaf (as there is minimal to no reliance on the use of sound to convey information), and students with certain learning disabilities that may make it challenging for them to learn through primarily text-based materials. The experience of being able to learn through interaction and exploration can provide new opportunities for these students to engage with material that may be traditionally conveyed through text. It is precisely this experience, learning through interaction and exploration, that the DRK-12 project presented here wants to expand to all students, including students with mobility impairments, visual impairments, and other challenges that are not currently met with the highly visual interface. We are excited to be exploring new input and output modalities for these students and expect to find that these additional features will support all students – not only those with disabilities – in learning.
    Thanks for your questions!

  • Icon for: Susan Kowalski

    Susan Kowalski

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 16, 2016 | 05:27 p.m.

    I am intrigued by your efforts to make the PhET simulations more accessible. What would you say have been your greatest challenges? Greatest successes?

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 07:39 p.m.

    Hi Susan,

    Great questions! The work of making highly interactive, highly dynamic, science simulations accessible is very much in early stages (for PhET simulations and all others). There are many challenges to be addressed, and correspondingly so much opportunity to positively impact the learning experiences of students.

    I would say one of our biggest challenges has been in developing strategies to support effective layering of accessibility features. Each of features (e.g., auditory descriptions, sonification) can provide benefits individually, and also when layered together. It is a challenge to understand how to design each accessibility feature to be used in contexts where other features may or may not be in use by the student, and to technically support multiple features to “play well” together when potentially interfacing with multiple assistive technologies.

    Regarding successes, I would definitely have to say I have personally been impressed with how quickly we were able to begin seeing incredibly productive interactions with student testing of our simulations with auditory descriptions. We still have much to learn, and refinements to make, but we have already been able to see the potential of PhET simulations that are accessible to students with visual impairments – and this is so encouraging (and heartwarming) to personally witness!

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 08:51 p.m.

    Hi Emily,
    This is great! I’ve seen students (and my own children) engaged with PhET simulations so love that more students will be able to access the simulations. What is the age range for the simulations? Also, have you worked with students with learning disabilities and how have you altered your design to help those students? If you have, have you looked at how these students make connections from the simulation to the real world?
    Thanks,
    Elissa

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 05:00 p.m.

    Hi Elissa,
    Thanks for using the PhET sims! We have sims for science and mathematics topics that span elementary to college level – so a very broad range of ages.

    We have not yet studied students specifically with a focus on design for learning disabilities, though we are very interested in understanding more about effective design for this student population. We plan to investigate these needs in the future in collaboration with researchers who specialize in learning disabilities.

    In the meantime, we have heard teacher feedback that the sims can be very helpful for students with certain print-based learning disabilities, and the auditory descriptions and sonification we are currently working on will provide additional opportunities for support.

    Thanks for your questions!

  • Icon for: Sarah-Kay McDonald

    Sarah-Kay McDonald

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:40 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing this very interesting and informative video, Emily! I’m looking forward to following this conversation as it unfolds—am particularly interested in learning more about studies that may have been completed and/or are underway to document and explore changes in student learning outcomes associated with students’ use of PhET simulations at various grade levels and/or within particular STEM domains. I haven’t yet had a chance to check-out the project website, would love it if you could point me towards any study results that might be available there (or elsewhere). Thanks!

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 05:06 p.m.

    Hello Sarah-Kay,
    The PhET website has a number of relevant resources for you. You can find a list of publications from PhET researchers, and from other researchers at: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/research. These are categorized by general topic.

    You can also track publications specifically related to PhET’s efforts in accessibility at: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/accessibility/rese.... All of our research studies are still “in press,”but as soon as they available from the publisher online I will update these with a direct link. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Beverly Woolf

    Beverly Woolf

    Research Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 12:34 p.m.

    Dear Emily,

    Great video. Thanks for keeping us up to date about you new accessibility tools.

    Auditory descriptions, sonification and keyboard navigation sound like good steps towards enabling many more students to engage with the awesome PHeT videos.

    Regards
    Beverly Woolf

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 05:07 p.m.

    Hi Beverly,
    Thanks for watching our video, and for the kind words!

  • Icon for: Arthur Camins

    Arthur Camins

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 04:04 p.m.

    Emily, can you share anything about what kinds and depth of understanding the simulations are intended to promote and how you are measuring those goals?

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    Deborah Lynn

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:15 a.m.

    We use PhET simulations in our AP classes for intro to some topics with guided activities for exploration. I love that you have sample lessons on the site from other teachers. Having them accessible on the Chromebooks has been extremely useful since all our students have Chromebooks to use.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:33 p.m.

    Hi Deborah,
    Thanks for using PhET sims, and for using the teacher-posted activities. Feel free to share your own activities, we’d love to have even more teacher-created and classroom-tested materials available.
    We’re working very hard to get more PhET sims into HTML5 for increased device compatibility – glad to hear these efforts are benefiting you and your students!
    ~ Emily

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    Ryan URban

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:21 a.m.

    I regularly use their simulations as directed inquiry labs for every level of student. I teach high school freshmen, AP Physics and graduate students in biology and chemistry.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:39 p.m.

    Hi Ryan,

    You teach quite a span of student ages and topics! It’s great to hear that the PhET simulations are able to support your teaching across all of these student populations.

    ~ Emily

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    Meryl MacDonald

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:21 a.m.

    Thank you for the simulations. As a high school teacher I use them frequently with my students. My students enjoy using them and give positive feedback. I have used them across a wide level of academic abilities by making worksheets that help to target the outcomes I want my students to learn. The simulations are very versatile and being free to access makes them available to all students.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:48 p.m.

    Thanks Meryl,

    We have also found that using guided-inquiry handouts with the simulations can be very helpful in supporting students in addressing specific learning goals. Here’s a resource we created that you might find helpful when creating or adapting your own worksheets: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/teaching-resources....

    Thanks for sharing about your use of PhET simulations!

    ~ Emily

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    Jose Fernandez

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:41 a.m.

    I use with my students GED in Spanish, the Phet program. With Phet students have been able to understand and interact with the physical and chemical laws. Students have understood much better the study of science.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:51 p.m.

    Hi Jose,
    Thanks for sharing! It’s great to hear that you have found that the PhET simulations are beneficial for your students.

    We didn’t mention it in the video presentation, but your comment reminded me that viewers might be interested in knowing that all PhET simulations are translatable and are available in many different languages, which is also a way to increase accessibility and support STEM for All.

    ~ Emily

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    William Lee

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 09:57 a.m.

    Simulated such as found in PhET are invaluable in teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics in low income schools. Please keep developing these opportunities so that students of all socio-economic backgrounds can excel in STEM .

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 12:55 p.m.

    Hi William,

    It’s been foundational to the PhET project that our simulations are available for free to all students around the world, precisely so that all students can have equal access to great STEM education resources. Thanks for highlighting the need to consider diversity in socio-economic backgrounds when discussing STEM for All.
    ~ Emily

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    Z. Asadi

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:07 a.m.

    I state of Texas, the simulations match our curriculum expectations. They are easy to follow and use, very interactive, and lead students to higher level of thinking.
    I use the frequently with my students. I truly adore the simulations, but would love to see more goal oriented worksheets.
    Thank you for providing the simulations for students and educators.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 01:04 p.m.

    Hi Z.,
    When we decide on simulations to create, we focus on foundational concepts and aim to align with typical state standards. It’s great to hear feedback that you’re finding the simulations align with your curriculum.

    Regarding worksheets, make sure you check out the teacher-submitted activities that are posted under “For Teachers” on each simulation’s download page. I would also like to encourage you to share your worksheets through the PhET website, so that others may benefit from your goal-oriented activities.

    Thanks for your comment!
    ~ Emily

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    Jeff Weitz

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:20 a.m.

    These simulations are great. At my school, PhET is a brand; the identification of a resource as a PhET simulation insures an attentive audience and active participation from colleagues and students alike.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 01:17 p.m.

    Hi Jeff,

    That’s great to hear that PhET is such a trusted resource at your school! We strive to ensure that all of our materials are consistently of very high quality and support active participation.

    Best,
    ~ Emily

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    Chris Atchison

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:26 a.m.

    Well done, Emily. Good luck on the showcase and keep up the great work. Let us know if you are interested in teaming up on accessible Earth Science sims. www.TheIAGD.org

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 02:45 p.m.

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for watching the video. I just checked out your website. It looks like you’re doing really wonderful work in increasing inclusiveness in the geosciences. We should definitely talk more.
    I have been working on bringing together a community of folks working towards accessible interactive STEM learning resources. I’ll send you an email about these efforts, I think you’ll be interested, and I’d love to learn more about the structure and future plans of the IAGD.
    Best,
    ~ Emily

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    Rajeeb Chakraborty

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:46 a.m.

    With PhET simulations, Physics learners of present days can see Physics to learn in a much better way than the way I learned in ’70s. PhET simulation has helped me a lot to explain Physics to my students that I so far have taught in the past. My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone involved with PhET simulation programme.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 01:31 p.m.

    Hello Rajeeb,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. We feel quite privileged to be able to do the work we do at PhET – in addition to being impactful, it’s also a lot of fun. I’ll make sure your comment is shared with all the members of the PhET team.

    ~ Emily

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    Steven Kemp

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:51 a.m.

    Absolutely love the Phet simulations. I use so many of these simulations when teaching grade 9 Electricity Unit. From John Travoltage, Balloons and Static Electricity and Circuit Construction Kit. Unfortunately all computer labs are being removed from my school and replaced with Chromebooks. This means that my students will be unable to use the Circuit Construction Kit program for the two labs I have created for it; one understanding current and voltage & one understanding series and parallel circuits. I am hoping your team is working on making the circuit interactive a HTML accessible program very soon.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 05:02 p.m.

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for using PhET simulations! You might find this list of Chromebook-compatible PhET simulations useful for future reference: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/catego....

    Circuit Construction Kit is one of PhET’s most popular simulations, and we are hard at work redesigning it to work well with tablet devices, and porting it into HTML5 for greater device compatibility. We are excited to have it in HTML5, and it’s great to hear feedback that this would be helpful to you and your students.

    Best,
    ~ Emily

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    Anita Tope

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:56 a.m.

    My students love PhET simulations. I use these simulations in all my chemistry classes. I am getting chrome-books next year for my classes and would love to have a HTML accessible program soon.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 05:03 p.m.

    Hi Anita,

    Here’s a list of Chromebook-compatible PhET simulations: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/catego.... We are working hard to get PhET simulations into HTML5, hopefully this list helps you as you plan for your next year.

    Best,

    ~ Emily

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    Andrew Leonard

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 12:21 p.m.

    These are great simulations for high school and beyond. I have used them since they were first released while at Overland High School in Aurora, CO. I now am at the University of New Mexico Taos Branch writing pre-collegiate curriculum and teaching dual credit physics. The simulations provide clear explanations and often better understanding than live demonstrations and experiments. It matches well with Modeling Curriculum.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 12:06 p.m.

    Thanks for you comment, Andrew! It’s great to hear from teachers that have been using PhET since the beginning.
    ~ Emily

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    Dan McGuire

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 12:25 p.m.

    These simulations work great with our OER based curriculum.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 12:10 p.m.

    Hi Dan,

    Yes, PhET simulations have been Open Educational Resources (OER) from the start. Thanks for sharing, and for supporting OER!
    ~ Emily

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    mae doubrava

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 02:09 p.m.

    Love the PHET !!! Physics simulations have made our classroom more phun! Sudents who are not attracted to physics are able to learn through interaction and absorb many concepts that they cannot master through reading or experiments. Ih ave contributed to HTML so that it is more accessible to everyone :)

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 12:11 p.m.

    Hi Mae,

    Thanks for your comments, and your contribution!

    ~ Emily

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    Doug Stein

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:17 p.m.

    One of the great things about PhET is it doesn’t overload the verbal channel with lots of words. I hope you’re thinking about developing an accurate soundscape to complement the visual canvas you already have. If so, you could use a smaller set of words in the audio channel.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:02 p.m.

    Hi Doug,

    You make a great point! It is central to PhET’s design approach to minimize the use of text on-screen to encourage students to learn by exploring and experimenting. As we design auditory descriptions (e.g., for students with visual impairments) and sonification, we have found that the use of sonification allows for more simplified auditory descriptions (so as not to overwhelm students who are relying on the auditory information), and can also provide access to actions in the simulations that are particularly challenging to describe. For example, changes in acceleration are difficult to convey with words as an object is moving – it takes time to describe what is occurring and can lose the real-time connection to the object’s motion. In contrast, sonification can map directly to the motion of the object, and immediately convey changes in acceleration.
    Thanks for your comment!

    ~ Emily

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    Bryson Dalgleish

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:25 p.m.

    Hi All at phet
    I use your sims all the time here in Berlin, Germany.
    Keep up the good work!
    warm regards
    Bryson Dalgleish

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:03 p.m.

    Hi Bryson,

    Thanks for your comment!

    ~ Emily

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    Shaimaa Hagag

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 03:30 p.m.

    Phet simulation were always a great help with my science/chemistry topics specially with students of visual learning style… Thanks alot everybody who works on.. i do recommend it to all educatprs.. good luck! ?

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:03 p.m.

    Thanks Shaimaa!

    ~ Emily

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    Norberto Paterlini

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 04:14 p.m.

    Greetings from Brazil!!

    Im using Phet sim’s for 3+ yeas in my physics courses.

    Congrats for the awesome work.

  • Icon for: Emily Moore

    Emily Moore

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 07:07 p.m.

    Hi Norberto,

    Muito obrigada!

    ~ Emily

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    Mayada Ghanim

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 04:56 p.m.

    Phet simulations always have a big role in my lessons for both junior science and senior physics.They all enjoy the interaction that the simulations allow them to have with the virtual equipment which can be seen on their computer screens or my big screen.

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    Bonnie Yelverton

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 10:48 p.m.

    This is a fantastic initiative. My students need to access the simulations on their smart phones because our district doesn’t have enough computers!

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Digital Learning & UCAR Connect Lead
    May 20, 2016 | 02:40 a.m.

    Woooo, I just love PhET simulations and the great work you do. PhET just keeps getting better and better! NSF-funds are an EXTREMELY well spent investment here. Thanks for being there for my own kids, too! YOUR WORK MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Know that!

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    Anne Crowell

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 07:05 a.m.

    We used the PhET simulations as lab exercises in our Honors Science courses. GMU teaches several general ed. science courses for high achieving students in the liberal arts. The results were fantastic! I am very very impressed with PhET!

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    Martina Bachlechner

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 08:20 a.m.

    I’ve used PhET simulations in all of my physics courses, either to supplement learning of a specific topic or as a tool in an online environment. Students do both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Many times an “aha” moment goes hand in hand with PhET learning, in particular in physics service courses. Continue your great work!

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    Melissa Kearney

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 01:45 p.m.

    I have used PhEt for a few years now. It is especially beneficial when certain labs are not functionally possible in the classroom or when we are short on time. This site allows students To be engaged while having fun! It is also helpful when reviewing certain topics from previous years.

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    Rajeeb Chakraborty

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 01:50 p.m.

    With PhET simulations, Physics learners of present days can see Physics to learn in a much better way than the way I learned in ’70s. PhET simulation has helped me a lot to explain Physics to my students that I so far have taught in the past. My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone involved with PhET simulation programme.

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    Sheba Kuruvilla

    Guest
    May 20, 2016 | 04:07 p.m.

    I use Phet simulations in Introductory College Chemistry class. Simulations like “How to build an atom” and “Molecular Structure” were helpful for students in my class to understand the topic better. NSF funding is well-serving to Phet! Keep up the good work Phet!

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    Clifton Tucker

    Guest
    May 22, 2016 | 07:35 a.m.

    I have returned to the public after having been teaching in a private parochial setting. I have been intrigued by PhET for years and have attempted to use in my classes with varying degrees of success. Not because of limitations within the PhET environment, but mainly due my own limitations. However, I have used them for my Physics, General Chemistry, and Advanced Chemistry classes and have seen some wonderful successes. I will be starting off the new school year in the fall using as many of the simulations as I am able. This is a great offering you have and a wonderful method for reaching a large number of students with different abilities. Great work. Thank You!

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    Alaa Mohamed

    Guest
    May 22, 2016 | 05:16 p.m.

    We use Phet in our STEM schools in Egypt if we have a problem in lap or to give students some thing to deepening under standing while they solve some problems as home work

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    Darcy Fawcett

    Guest
    May 23, 2016 | 06:39 p.m.

    I’m the Head of Science and Physics at secondary school in New Zealand. I’ve used PhET simulations and worksheets for years now in all levels of classes from 13-year-olds’ who can barely read and write to 18-year-old Scholarship students. The PhET simulations provide meaningful activities for all these students. I have found the best usage involves full integration with traditional classroom activities and experiments. For example, I’m teaching 14-year-olds atomic structure, ionization and balancing symbol equations using the PhET simulations RIGHT NOW as I type this. Yesterday I used the Force and motion basics with a class after our own tug-of-war. We now have 300+ Chromebooks available for classroom booking and having the html conversion progressing at this rate is awesome and completely necessary for continued usage. Keep it up! My 17-year-old’s are waiting on Rutherford scattering, alpha and beta decay, fission etc!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: Emily Moore
Facilitators’
Choice
Public
Choice

Accessible PhET Simulations for Diverse Learners
1503439

The PhET Interactive Simulations project impacts classrooms around the world through over 130 interactive science and mathematics simulations (sims) and associated teacher resources. Here, we focus on our work to increase the accessibility of PhET sims to support diverse students (including students with disabilities) with features such as sonification. With our collaborators at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, we have overcome technical challenges, started an accessible simulation design community, developed prototypes of accessible PhET simulations, and conducted investigations into the design and use of accessibility features. This work is expanding the ways students can learn from sims, and has the potential to transform the development and use of STEM learning resources to create more inclusive classrooms. To learn more, visit http://phet.colorado.edu/en/accessibility.