This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

First homework - Explore PhET Resources

Get ready for your journey into Using PhET Interactive Simulations by exploring one of the three resources.
 1.  Handout about PhET (this is the attachment and it is what we handed out at ISTE)

2. July Newsletter at

3. "For Teachers" pages starting at

 Then share your ideas about these resources. You could use the prompts below to help you with ideas for sharing:
 a) What might you share with a colleague?
 b) How does the resource help you use PhET?
 c) What questions come to mind for discussion in this course?

Task Discussion

  • jopau   July 10, 2012, 5:06 a.m.


    i am planning to develop a teaching material that integrates the phet sims and share this to the physics teachers in my area.

    phet is helpful in topics that are difficult for the students to understand.  it's a good substitute for the actual lab.

  • Ginny Brackett   July 9, 2012, 8:05 p.m.

    The handout might be a good way to introduce a science or math department to PhET sims. I have talked to several of our high school teachers, and they have seen the simulations but have not started using them. This is when I recommend the teacher resources. These give you a good jumping off point. Something you can try with students without much effort. If it works, you can tweak it. I have used the skate park after we spent some hand on time with a knex roller coaster set up. We make a track for a ball drop, and introduce the ideas of potential and kinetic energy. The skate park brings some quantification to these concepts. 

    This newsletter is the first one I have seen. It is often nice to see a specific simulation highlighted, and I always like to read about the people behind the applications. This is good for students to realize there is more jobs out there then lawyers and doctors and game programmers! 

  • Kathleen Miller   July 9, 2012, 4:13 p.m.

    I looked at all three resources also. The handout is very nice and a great way to give information about PhET to other teachers in my school/district.  I enjoy getting the newsletter and am always interested in the new sims; can't wait for plate tectonics. But probably the best resource is the teacher page where you can browse for sims lesson plans at particular levels. One of the most time consuming teacher tasks is preparing materials, and it is so nice to be able to download teacher and student materials and be ready to go the next day. The lesson plans I looked at were very well organized and informative. I would like to be able to present a workshop on this at one of our inservice days!

    One question that I have is how the sims might fit in with common core math standards as applied in a science classroom.

  • Trish Loeblein   July 10, 2012, 11:01 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Kathleen Miller   July 9, 2012, 4:13 p.m.


    In terms of aligning with the new Math Common core standards - we have just begun a project that would add math standardsfrom the national common core to our meta-data for the sims. We are discussing how this will be displayed on the webpages. One of our programmers attended the pre-conference for ISTE which included information about the liscensing registry. With the publication of the national standards and the overwhelming support from States, we feel like our particpation is essential.

    Part of our dicussion also revolves around identifying the benchmarks for the activities, but since people outside of PhET have contributed, it willl be more complex if we proceed. Presently, some of the sims meta-data includes references to the AAAS benchmarks and we recieve high vitality reports. If you are using the NDSL maps for science, the sims that match the benchmarks are identified.


  • Rollan   July 9, 2012, 3:08 a.m.

    a) What might you share with a colleague?

    The three resources are a very good tool to introduce PhET sims to beginners and prospected users. I will be sharing it all to my colleagues as my way of promoting the PhET Sims. Maybe through social networking (Facebook and the likes) which is now the trend here in the Philippines.

     b) How does the resource help you use PhET?

    The Handout about PhET presents an overview of the PhET sim. The Newsletter showcases the new and updated sims as well as different activities and projects initiated and organized by the PhET. Furthermore, the “For Teachers” pages allow teachers to browse relevant activities that can be integrated in their classes. It will also give the teachers the opportunity to share teaching ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the sims.

     c) What questions come to mind for discussion in this course?

    How about creating a test bank (multiple choices) of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) questions for every simulation aside from the clicker questions? 


    Rollan P. Inis

  • Trish Loeblein   July 10, 2012, 11:05 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rollan   July 9, 2012, 3:08 a.m.


    I think your idea about writing test questions is interesting. Is this a project you hope to pursue? One thing to consider is how the answers would be made available to teachers. Presently, many teachers request that we not  included answers to the activities, but I often get requests from teachers who are not content specialists. As you know, I include the answers to the clickers questions in my activities, but I am expecting teachers to use the questions for peer discussion not as an assessment too. Any ideas about how to publish the tests and what to do about the answers?


  • SimonBarry   July 7, 2012, 5:37 p.m.

    I'll use the handout with other staff in the department - one certainly thinks Phet is Physics specific - with the view to having it as  a department resource.


    How will it help me use Phet - by making it the tool of choice in the dept and so making pupils familiar with it

    questions in, unlike others I am not a fan of the idea of Phet with portable devices - the screens are too small to start with. I am interested to know what Maths development is foreseen 

  • Trish Loeblein   July 7, 2012, 5:50 p.m.
    In Reply To:   SimonBarry   July 7, 2012, 5:37 p.m.


    I am glad you see how we have branched out from physics. We have been producing more Chemistry and  Middle School sims in particular.

    In terms of math sims, we are in an exciting growth phase - we just published Fraction Matcher to the website and have a fulltime math postdoc starting in September. To see a sneek peak of some things in progress: check out or

    Generally on the development site it is best to open the "production" versions. The dev versions often have features enabled for researchers to use with students to help us decide about specific features in the design.


  • dylaX   July 7, 2012, 6:07 a.m.

    I am exploring all the three resources of the first homework to learn more about PhET simulations. I have found Handout vey useful. So I talk about it.

    a) What might share with a collegue?

    The main problem for me and my italian collegues is the language. All the stuff  I have found is very useful because it is about guided inquiry lessons. So I think it's better translating into italian all the stuff.

    b) How does the resource help you use PhET?

    The resource may help use PhET in a classroom with a wide type of activities. It explains how to use a PhET simulation in a classroom.

    c) What question come to mind for discussion in this course?

    I think it will be very useful to learn how to make a simulation like PhET ones. Is it possibe for a teacher  with a basic knowledge of TIC to make a PhET simulaton?

  • Ms Courtney   July 6, 2012, 5:45 p.m.

    a) What might you share with a colleague?

    I anticipate showing actual sims to colleagues in other departments, or perhaps sharing a link with others through the chemistry teachers listserve I belong to.  I also anticipate sharing it with teachers in my area when I go to the next meeting.  We have a sharing out time at each meeting where we share resources with each other and it is very valuable time! 


    b) How does the resource help you use PhET?

     I was delighted to discover so many activities already prepared in the teacher resources section!  I plan to use time this summer to explore already developed activities aand the sims, and map them out into my units for the coming year.


    c) What questions come to mind for discussion in this course?

    I have a large number of ELL students with a variety of native languages that are not necessarily common in our area, so I often have toruble finding translated resources.  I think these activities will help with understanding.  I am wondering about whether there is a way to request translation into certain languages, or a way to connect with someone else using the resouces who may speak that language where my students could ask questions and get answers in their own language, then work on putting their understanding into English.

    Has anyone incorporated these sims into a highly differentiated classroom setting?  Or using a mastery approach?



  • Trish Loeblein   July 6, 2012, 5:54 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Ms Courtney   July 6, 2012, 5:45 p.m.


    Although few of the activities are non-english, did you see that most of the sims are translated? For example, if you like Energy Skate Park, but want students to use it in Chinese, they can scroll down the page ( and find the chinese version. I have wondered how well Google Translator would work on activites, but I haven't tried it.

    We do have users with higly differentiated classrooms, but I am not aware of any publications. I am not sure about mastery approach either.

    Looks like we have great opportunities for others in the course to provide ideas..



  • Ms Courtney   July 6, 2012, 7:48 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Trish Loeblein   July 6, 2012, 5:54 p.m.

    My students would need some of the more "unusual" languages -- Nepali, Swahili, Farsi, Karen to name a few.  Maybe we'll give Google translator a whirl on some of them, or see if some of the kids know of any good on-line translators to work with.


  • Juan Abelardo Garcia Jr   July 6, 2012, 3:25 p.m.

    a) What might you share with a colleague?

    I would share the handout, as a quick intro to the simulations, and then perhaps guide my colleague through one of them to discuss how they can be incorporated into a class lecture.

     b) How does the resource help you use PhET?

    It provides a quick and very visual overview of the simulations and how to use them...I think the pictures that depict the mini lesson cycle are a great idea because they spark ideas for class inclusion.

     c) What questions come to mind for discussion in this course?

    Can the simulations be used with current smartphones, and if so could a list be compiled and shared here of models that can do that?

    Is there a "build your own simulation" that could be used with advanced students, on the site as of now?


  • Trish Loeblein   July 6, 2012, 5:01 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Juan Abelardo Garcia Jr   July 6, 2012, 3:25 p.m.

    >Can the simulations be used with current smartphones, and if so could a list be compiled and shared here of models that can do that?

    TL: The sims do not presently work on small devices  - see FAQ at  . We are working on this issue, but there is no projected date. It might be helpful to sign up for the newsletter and new sim updates to keep track of our progress -


    >Is there a "build your own simulation" that could be used with advanced students, on the site as of now?

    TL: The sims are often designed for students to design their own experiments, but we do not have a tool for people to develop their own sims. Our sims are developed by a team of prgrammers, teachers, and content specialists. A sim take months to develop which includes researching the interface for student engagement and seeing if the students can achieve the learning goals without instruction (or minimal instruction if the goals are high level). FYI: the typical sim costs us about $50,000 to produce. Good news -the sims are open source and licensed under Creative Commons, so one could view the code and use it if they wanted.

  • Kathleen Miller   July 9, 2012, 8:28 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Trish Loeblein   July 6, 2012, 5:01 p.m.

    Will the sims work on IPADs? We are severely limited at our school for computer time, but quite a few students now have tablets that are hooked up to the internet. I would love to assign sims for extra practice or even homework if we could get enough interest.