Playing with Simulations

A good use of digital technology in the science classroom includes visualizing concepts in real-time, providing individual/group interaction to supplement instruction. It could involve having volunteers demonstrate for classes, or working in teams to solve real world problems. It should not replace formal knowledge, but supplement before, during and after learning. For example, playing with simulations promotes scientific curiosity, generating inquiry questions and exploring misconceptions to confirm/reject expectations, returning control to learners for active engagement and constructive participation.

What makes this a good use of digital technology is enabling students to be present in their learning, not passively memorizing facts but taking responsibility with curricula. During my practicum, I taught position-time graphs using a motion sensor that captured movements in real time. This semester (without access to necessary hardware) students played with PHET simulations to achieve similar results. With emerging technology, there will always be costs associated (ex. time, money, experience) that causes local challenges with implementation.


  1. Hi Andrew,

    I agree that digital technology should put the student first, where they are learning in meaningful ways rather than in a passive manner. Information can be found instantly but knowing how to find the information effectively, as well as what to do with this new information is what is critical. Students need to be able to problem-solve real world issues as you say, and as research suggests gamification or playing with simulations is one great way of connecting with students.

    1. Thanks Cristina. To follow up, while there is no shortage of research on incorporating games-based learning to our teaching pedagogies (ex. simulations), I’m trying to consciously and frequently reflect how aspects can be included into more teacher-directed activity such as lectures, etc.


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