How I Use It
I use this in high school Engineering and Technology classes. I have found the various Simple Machine Gizmos especially helpful. The Gizmos that I use are actually recommended for grades 3-5, but are appropriate for my course content, as well as for the reading and math levels of my students. Fortunately there is no indication of grade-level on the actual student activity. I use the Student Exploration sheets that are provided, which use the inquiry method to lead the students step-by-step through concepts like work, friction, and mechanical advantage by applying them to simulations of inclined planes, levers, and pulleys. Sometimes I use the Gizmos with a group of students on the Smart Board, but more frequently I have students work through them independently.
I think this is a very good learning tool. Although there are Gizmos for many math and science concepts, I have mostly used the science Gizmos. I like the way the Student Exploration sheets that are provided start with some open-ended inquiry and then guide the students to form and test hypothesis, so they are practicing the scientific process as well as learning the content. Very recently they have introduced an app for using the Gizmos on iPads, which is very helpful. I have not been able to download the app on the iPad 1 however.