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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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PhET Sims for Middle School -- Design, Use, and Classroom Implementation
  Location: HC 3029
  Date: Monday, Aug.1
  Time: 6:30 PM -6:40 PM
  Author: Noah Podolefsky,
303-641-8217, Noah.Podolefsky@Colorado.EDU
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: The PhET Interactive Simulations project is a collection of more than 100 simulations of physical phenomena that create animated, interactive, game-like environments in which students learn through scientist-like exploration. While the sims are designed and tested with introductory college-level courses, anecdotal data from middle school teachers suggested that PhET sims could be used effectively with fifth-eighth graders -- with teachers citing the intuitive controls and engaging, game-like style. These reports motivated us to study how sims can be best designed for and used in middle schools more systematically. We have conducted numerous interviews with middle school students using PhET sims, and collected video and observational data from middle school classes using sims. We will present our findings from these studies, including effective design principles for middle school sims, insights into how middle school students learn from sims, and benefits of and challenges to using sim-based activities in middle school classes.
  Footnotes: This work is funded by the Hewlett Foundation, NSF DRK12 Grant #1020362, The O'Donnell Foundation and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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