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PhET Interactive Simulations

Found In: science, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The library of free PhET Interactive Simulations lets K-12 science students manipulate parameters to comprehend science concepts. In addition, quantitative exploration is possible using measurement instruments including rulers, stop-watches, voltmeters and thermometers. Flash and Java are the only software requirements. How To Run Simulations explains three ways to use the website. Simulations can be used one at a time online, downloaded individually (< 4 MB) as needed, or downloaded as a group (100 MB).

The website highlights a collection of new HTML5 SIMS. In John Travoltage, students can brush John’s shoe across a rug to build up a negative charge and then direct his finger to the doorknob. Varying the size of the charge (and the speed with which it is generated) and distance to the knob will be rewarded with John’s “Ouch!”.

SIMS can be browsed as a whole, searched by index or keyword, or filtered by discipline and grade level.

  • An elementary school sim, Density, lets students select a material and adjust its density and volume to discover wether it will float of sink.
  • A middle school sim, Force and Motion: Basics offers four activities: Tug of War, Motion, Friction, and Acceleration.
  • A high school sim, Build a Molecule lets students combine atoms to make molecules and view them in 3D.

For Teachers offers guidelines for teachers who wish to contribute a simulation.


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