Nia M Wardani | A Logbook of Life Discoveries

7 Questions to be Discussed for Every PHET Simulation

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Hey, there!
In the previous post, I told you several apps and software I used in my paperless classes. PHET is one of the simulations I often use. I usually give students the link to the simulation where they can download it in their Surfaces or open it with their browser, together with worksheet related to the simulation.Then the students will do presentation and discusses the results with their classmates. The presentation should covers the answers to the following 7 questions: 
1. What is the simulation about?
I usually give like 3 minutes time to students to explore the simulation without worksheet to figure out what is the simulation about. They love to play games, so figuring out what the simulation about is easy for them. After I checked everyone knows how to operate the simulation, I distribute the worksheets. The worksheets can be downloaded from the PHET website, too.

2. What is the underlying theory behind the simulation? (remember to cite the reference)
With this digital era where information is so easy to get (both the true one and hoax one), I want emphasize on empowering students about choosing a good reliable reference and to respect all intellectual product by citing it. The students will took for formulas and theory that support they finding in the internet or books they already have.
3. What did you discover from the simulation?
This is what they find, usually with the help of worksheet.
4. Did you find anything similar to your prior knowledge about the simulation? If yes, what is that?
5. Did you find anything different than what you previously think about the simulation? If yes, what is that?
It is important to students that they compare what they already know, and what they newly learned. Sometimes, I check students with comparing questions, like if you replace the experiment to the Moon will you get the same result. Then they confirm their intuitive knowledge with the simulation.
6. What part do you think is the most interesting from the simulation?
This questions usually comes with funny answers. Some students said the most interesting part is how to install the software needed to open the simulation. Some actually find another interesting topic than is guided by the worksheet. I let them to explain. One of my students once was very much interested in how pendulum differently behave in other planets.
7. Do you think the simulation is well matched the real life experiments? Explain your reasoning.
I think this is the most difficult questions of all. Most of the time, the answers are not in the internet so they have to really think, compare, and judge the simulation. Of course most of the simulation will not be exactly matched the real life experiments. They need to think what makes it different, either friction, or approximations used in the theory in making the simulation.

In the end of each class, the students usually say something like ,"Physics really make me exhausted." But apart from that, they are happy that they found something by themselves, they are happy that they think.
Nia M Wardani
Hi! Call me Nia. I discover interesting things in life and I love to share them with all people around the world.

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