Good science methodology involves conducting tests and making observations. In the screencasts below I explore how simulations, virtual manipulative, and a virtual world can be used as learning activities.
Virtual World–Second Life
I’ve long been interested in virtual worlds, who wouldn’t want to explore without paying for gas, hotels, flights, etc., so I took this opportunity to spend a little more time getting my feet wet in Second Life. I was impressed with resources and activities found on Genome Island; I found scavenger hunts, interactive experiments like the mixallamas gene game, links to outside resources, and really cool virtual simulations like the 3D cell.
I found Second Life exciting and genuinely had the sense of being an explorer, however I did spend as much time experimenting with my avatar’s moves as I did exploring. Second Life seems like a neat tool for a teacher who is experienced with the Second Life landscape. Click on the photos to come on a tour with my avatar or click here.
Interactive Science Simulations
Interactive Science Simulations are interactive, research-based
simulations of physical phenomena from the PhET™ project at the University of Colorado. These simulations allow students to play with variables in science and then observe different outcomes as those variables change. These simulations can be used for all grades either as an inquiry-based exploration or as a guided exploration. For a quick tour and to hear my thoughts on one of these simulations, click the photo, or click here
National Library of Virtual Manipulative
The National Library of Virtual Manipulative (NLVM) contains around 100 virtual manipulative that address concepts in numbers & operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data & probability. These manipulative virtually mimic many classroom manipulative like geoblocks, cuisnes rods, beakers, and rules. A teacher/parent section describes how each tool supports national math standards. These tools can be used to practice concepts, explore prior learned with new variables. I recommend that students use of these tools are guided by critical thinking questions.
The NLVM states, “Learning and understanding mathematics, at every level, requires student engagement. Mathematics is not, as has been said, a spectator sport. Too much of current instruction fails to actively involve students. One way to address the problem is through the use of manipulatives, physical objects that help students visualize relationships and applications.”
Click the photo above to take a quick virtual tour, or click here.