Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Online Project Receives 2.5 Million Grant to Aid Middle School Science

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The National Science Foundation and the O’Donnell Foundation has given grants totaling $2.5 million to PhET Interactive Simulation Project to design 35 online simulations specifically for middle grade science education. The simulations will demonstrate how scientific concepts apply in real world scenarios. Once the simulations are created they will be available free to all science class students to enhance the curriculum.

According to Kathy Perkins, director of the PhET project, during middle school students “either get excited by science or turned off” and a goal of the project is to “make science classes both more effective and more fun.” The simulations will allow students to take the lead in conducting science experiments and help students visualize complex phenomena. Teachers can use the simulations in a variety of learning environments from class lectures, collaborative lab work to individual assignments for the students.

PhET was founded at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2002 for college and high school science courses and in an effort to improve STEM education at all levels these new simulations will target middle grade students to improve math and science education. Another benefit to the PhET simulations is the reduced costs in expensive materials and lab equipment for schools while providing a nonthreatening learning environment for the students.

The simulations can be run from online or downloaded to the computer, CD or USB. What a great way for students to learn. Instead of only watching or being involved in a lab experiment once, taking notes and trying to remember everything that happened the students can now replay the simulation over and over gaining knowledge and insight. Each simulation includes the main topics covered, content vocabulary, learning goals, teaching ideas, software requirements, and a choice of language translations.

To read this article:

To visit the project site:

To view the library of simulations:

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