I can recommend using PhET Simulations in your NGSS classroom enough. Phet Simulations are a free and valuable tool that is available and easy to use with Chromebooks.
Types of Models
One of the Science and Engineering Practices that are are highlighted in the NGSS is Developing and Using Models.
- physical replicas
- mathematical representations
- computer simulations.
The Modeling Requirement
Modeling is a fantastic resource that is often underutilized in the science classroom. While many teachers guide students in making a models, students are often following a list of instructions to replicate a model that has been developed by the teacher.
NGSS requires that students start to do the following by THIRD GRADE: (See requirements by grade level)
- Identify limitations of models.
- Develop and/or use models to describe and/or predict phenomena.
- Use a model to test cause and effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a natural or designed system.
Middle School Expectations
By the end of middle school, students should be able to do all of the things listed in the image to the right.
WHAT?!?! That used (and it often still does) intimidate me. Especially because many of use work in districts where students are not receiving specific science instruction until 6th or 7th grade. But that is a topic for another day.
PhET Simulations are useful, effective and easy way allow students to use models in your classroom. They have numerous simulations for the following courses
PhET Simulations are great because:
- They are highly engaging. Students love to play with them.
- They allow students to manipulate variables.
- They provides students with fantastic examples of models that still have limitations. This allows you to teach students to identify limitations of a model.
- Many of their simulations are able to run on Chromebooks and tablets and even student phones!*
*Some require Java, but the PhET team is always converting sims to HTML so that they can run on other devices.
I use PhET simulations in my classroom regularly. I create worksheets using google docs and have students answer their questions on their Chromebooks and submit them through google classroom. There are activities and guides available on the PhET website.
Resources I Have Created
Here are a list of resources that I currently have available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site that use PHET simulations:
- Build an Atom (Physical Science, Chemistry)
- Balancing Equations (Physical Science)
- Force and Motion (Physical Science, Physics)
I am adding new resources all of the time.
If you would like more information about PhET simulation please visit:
PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder
What questions do you have about using PhET simulations in your classroom?