|Website - https://phet.colorado.edu/|
|Subject : Mathematics, Science|
|Grade : K-12|
|Curriculum : can be aligned|
|Language Support : Multilingual including English,Hindi,Kannada,Malayalam,Marathi,Tamil,Telugu,Urdu|
|Device Compatibility : Mobile, Tablet, Desktop|
|Offline Access : TRUE|
|OS Compatibility : Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux|
|Accessibility : Supports screen readers, keyboard navigation, sound and sonification|
|License : CC-BY|
|Topics : Knowledge Deepening , Simulation , Mathematics , Science|
|Curator : Diksha Rehal, Sadaqat Mulla, Amitabh Anand|
|Date of curation : 15 June 2020|
PhET is a collection of over 150 interactive simulations that support inquiry-based learning of Mathematics and Science. Based on extensive research, the simulations are designed to address conceptual difficulties that students usually face for certain topics and help them make sense of unfamiliar phenomena through analogy and representations. They provide an engaging environment where students can explore and interact with content in Science and draw their own conclusions in the process. Integrating them in the curriculum ensures that pedagogic processes are not limited to knowledge transfer but support active knowledge construction through hands-on practice. The approach aligns well with the constructionist learning theory supported by Seymour Papert.
The simulations are available for Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Biology and can be used further in an interdisciplinary manner. These simulations enhance students’ learning by allowing them to visualize and interact with the different components for building a comprehensive understanding of the concept. For example , to understand how a spring-mass system works, a student can change the value of the mass attached to the spring to see how much it stretches or she can vary the strength of the spring to analyze how it affects the elongation of the spring. Such interactions allow students to identify the inbuilt relations between different quantities by themselves rather than visualizing the simple application of the formulas learned in class. Students are usually exposed to such hands-on practice in the laboratory and sometimes after the concept has been taught in the classroom using examples outlined in the textbooks. However, PhET allows the possibility of exposing students to such practices within the classroom as they can be used anywhere and anytime. Teachers can even ask students to explore them before she introduces a particular concept; in the form of homework, or as a warm-up before the class begins or to show the dynamics of a particular system. This ensures that student starts the process of inquiry without getting bogged down by the set of skills that are required to work in a laboratory. Those sets of skills though necessary might not be needed to start with. Moreover, teachers can employ PhETs to explain systems whose manipulation might not be possible physically or those which require highly sophisticated laboratory setup.
PhET simulations can be used online or integrated with the learning management systems and can also be downloaded for offline use. Users can choose the simulations according to the preferred subject, type, topic, level, and language. The platform supports and encourages the translation of the existing sims and provides direct access to the translated sims. Registered users on the platform can share how they used a particular simulation in their class and for which purpose like homework, for discussion or demonstration, etc in the form of a google doc. These resources can then be accessed by other users for guidance. For each simulation, under the “For Teachers” dropdown , one can find such tips for teachers. Research publications on both design and use of these simulations are also available.
Active Knowledge Making: Using an inquiry-based approach with hands-on practice, PhET empowers the learners to take a degree of control over their own learning. Through active experimentation, the learner has a concrete experience on which she can reflect and can try to interpret it using her existing knowledge base. Then with the implicit scaffolding provided by the tool and feedback from the instructor, she can revise her understanding towards the development of abstract conceptualizations.
Collaboration: Apart from teachers using the PhET platform to share their practices, PhET simulations can also be used in class to make students collaborate and collectively participate in knowledge construction.
Accessibility: Some of the PhET simulations support verbal descriptions and feedback, alternative navigation like keyboard inputs and shortcuts, and also the use of sound and music to represent foundational science and mathematics relationships. PhET has a dedicated team that is actively trying to increase the accessibility of these resources by working on various aspects of assistive technologies supporting a range of disabilities so that opportunities for authentic science and mathematics experiences are available for all learners through accessible STEM resources.
Adaptability: PhET simulations are highly adaptable and can be used in a variety of contexts depending upon the needs, such as, showing a simulation before starting the actual experiment in the laboratory, or to explain a particular concept in the class, use as a complement to textbook content etc. The source code of the simulations is also available on GitHub which the users can further adapt according to their needs.