PhET was initially an acronym for "physics education technology," and amazing, accurate, and extremely useful physics simulations is still what the site does best. There are more physics demonstrations here than those in any other category, and in fact there's almost no concept in K-12 physics that doesn't have a fantastic interactive tool. With very basic demonstrations of charge, simple circuits, balance, and color, elementary school students experiencing physics for the first time can get their hands on virtual versions of real-world phenomena without specialized equipment. Meanwhile, high school seniors in AP physics will find simulations of nuclear fission, Fourier transforms, and physics-based derivatives and integrals. There's even something called John Travoltage, which, well, you'll have to see for yourself.
If you need more concrete ideas of how to put these excellent tools to use in the classroom, check out the teacher-prepared lesson plans, labs, and guides that accompany each simulation.Continue reading Show less
Key Standards Supported
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.
Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.
Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.
Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.
Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.
Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system.
Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.
Use mathematical representations of Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Coulomb’s Law to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.
Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.
Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.
Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.
Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.
Evaluate questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission and storage of information.
Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning behind the idea that electromagnetic radiation can be described either by a wave model or a particle model, and that for some situations one model is more useful than the other.
Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.
Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.
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