Katherine Perkins, Wendy Adams, Noah Finkelstein, Michael Dubson, Sam Reid, and Carl Wieman
University of Colorado at Boulder
The Physics Education Technology (PhET) project is an ongoing effort to provide an extensive suite of simulations for teaching and learning physics and to make these resources both freely available from the PhET website (phet.colorado.edu) and easy to incorporate into classrooms. The simulations (sims) are animated, interactive, and game-like environments in which students learn through exploration. In these sims, we emphasize the connections between real life phenomena and the underlying science and seek to make the visual and conceptual models of expert physicists accessible to students. We use a research-based approach in our design – incorporating findings from prior research and our own testing – to create sims that support student engagement with and understanding of physics concepts. In this article, we introduce the PhET sims and their basic design; we describe how to access and run the sims; and we provide suggestions for effectively incorporating the sims into a variety of educational settings.