Sam McKagan

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Activities (5)

Resources for using PhET simulations in class PhET Activities Database part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
The PhET Activities Database is a collection of resources for using PhET simulations. It includes hundreds of lesson plans, homework assignments, labs, clicker questions, and more. Some activities have been created by the PhET team and some have been created by other teachers. Anyone can contribute to the database, and you are encouraged to submit your own activities if you use PhET simulations in your teaching.

Using PhET simulations to replace real equipment in lab Circuit Construction Kit part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
Labs and tutorials that use equipment such as circuits can be modified to use PhET simulations instead. Research shows that substituting the PhET Circuit Construction Kit simulation for real equipment in a variety of contexts leads to improved conceptual learning in the best cases, and the same conceptual learning in the worst cases. There are many advantages to using PhET simulations over real equipment: They are easy to use, so students can play around and modify the experiment quickly and easily without fear of breaking the equipment. They have productive constraints to focus attention on the most important aspects of the experiment (e.g. bulb brightness and current flow) rather than on irrelevant aspects (e.g. wire color and length). Finally, if real equipment is not available, PhET simulations provide the opportunity to do multiple experiments with a single piece of equipment: a computer.

Writing your own activities - PhET Activity Guidelines part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
You can create your own lectures, homework, and labs around any PhET simulation by using the PhET Activity Guidelines . These guidelines will help you create "guided inquiry activities which encourage students to construct their own understanding," which are the most effective way to use PhET simulations. Many of the activities in the PhET Activities Database can also serve as examples to help give you ideas. If you do write your own activities, you can also contribute them to the PhET Activities Database.

Using PhET simulations in high school Open-ended Pendulum Labs part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
These labs provide examples of using very open-ended questions to guide students in exploring a simulation and designing their own experiments. These labs can lead to a high level of quantitative thinking about data analysis.

Using PhET simulations in a large lecture class The Photoelectric Effect part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations:Examples
This activity provides a complete curriculum for teaching the photoelectric effect using the PhET Photoelectric Effect simulation in a large-lecture modern physics course. It includes links to PowerPoint slides for two to three 50-minute lectures using Peer Instruction with clickers, and one homework assignment suitable for an online homework system. Research has demonstrated that students in classes using this curriculum have a better understanding of the photoelectric effect than students in classes using traditional instruction supplemented by a computerized tutor.

Teaching Method Module

PhET Interactive Simulations part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:PhET Interactive Science Simulations
Compiled by Sam McKagan*, based on material from the PhET Team *American Association of Physics Teachers, McKagan Enterprises What is PhET? PhET is a suite of research-based interactive computer simulations for ...