Moving Man

Upon exploring the WISE library, I customized the project ‘Graphing Stories (with motion probes)’, having done a similar activity during my practicum. The Authoring Tool is user-friendly and intuitive, adding activities and steps with the editor ‘refreshing as I type’ and preview directly beside. To supplement the project sequence, I designed my own activity that incorporates a PhET Simulation called Moving Man. Adding steps of different types enabled variety and progression, moving from ‘Brainstorm’ to ‘Table’ to ‘Annotator’ to ‘Survey’. Brainstorming differences between scalars and vectors reveal student preconceptions, which is enhanced by gating responses before seeing peer feedback, allowing students to reply anonymously in risk free environments. ‘Fill the Blank’ provides checkpoints before progressing further: Distance is to displacement as speed is to                       . I was surprised to find a step icon designated for PhET simulations, providing easy access linking through URL. Students can record their sample data in ‘Table’, visualizing points and making graphs to compare with simulations. ‘Reflection Notes’ can make students aware of their own thinking. The ‘Annotator’ step asks students to move the man back and forth, then upload a screenshot of the position-time graph for others to interpret. The editor can require predictions before entering, or more guidance with starter sentences. ‘Drawing’ allows freeform sketches, designing frames for stop motion animation. ‘Survey’ icon enables both multiple choice with shuffling, inline feedback and multiple correct functionality. Open responses can display answers, locking after submission and completion before progression.

*When using ‘Table’ to make graphs, upon assigning columns and rows toggling through U = uneditable for student, I get an error message ‘Data in table is invalid, please fix and try again’. Is anyone else having the same problem?

  • What broader questions about learning and technology have provoked WISE research and the development of SKI?

The Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) defines inquiry as engaging students with authentic science, providing flexibly adaptive curricula to intentionally shape learner repertoire. This includes diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, planning investigations, researching alternatives, searching information, constructing models, communicating audiences and forming arguments (Linn et al., 2003). Responding to assumptions of learners holding multiple conflicting ideas, rather than constantly seeking teachers for guidance, embedded prompts offer assessment feedback and metacognitive critique at the right level, having been iteratively refined over time. Relative ease of customizing projects enhances relevance to match individual curriculum, using Scaffolded Knowledge Integration (SKI) based on premises: Making science visible and accessible, promoting lifelong learning through peer support (Linn et al. 2003). Accessibility is more than simplifying vocabulary which may actually reduce impact, but connects personal ideas with appropriate grain size. Presenting learners with compelling alternatives enables gradual fading in scaffolding for subsequent projects. Pivotal cases, evidence pages and inquiry maps bring concepts to life, transforming recipe into opportunity ascertaining connections to project. Making things visible involves more than assessment towards modelling wrong paths and debugging practices. Visual simulations at times confuse more than inform, but can direct attention towards zone of proximal development in supporting knowledge integration. Structured collaboration frames critical questions for group arguments, enabling anonymous contributions to reduce stereotypical responses, sustaining inquiry to evaluate validity of alternatives. Technology transforms canned tools towards autonomous inquiry, undergoing iterative refinement over mobile platforms. Handheld devices provide novel learning opportunities beaming information with teachers as facilitators becoming more expert at guiding inquiry.

Classroom practices shift over time employing instruction, experience and reflection to reorganize knowledge. Generating predictions reveal student preconceptions, using personally relevant examples designing hands-on investigations, exploring new representations and practices with capability to electronically respond (Williams et al., 2004). Integrating technology provides real opportunities to sustain interactions with different questioning types: logistical, factual and conceptual. Learners are encouraged to challenge perspectives, solve problems, learning through self-discovery becoming independent thinkers. Teaching is contrasted with telling, providing inquiry orientation that values student opinion, refocusing attention to integrate knowledge and interpret conceptions. With repeated opportunities to reorganize prior ideas, learners support claims with evidence, revealing misconceptions and growing familiarity to figure out alone in small groups. Guided inquiry selectively holds back answers encouraging student-directed engagement as practicing scientists. Students learn by doing and understand better finding (Furtak, 2006). The pedagogy is amorphous between direct traditional and open inquiry, having students rediscover supposed predetermined and pre-existing knowledge. Questions like whether correct answers exist may compel students to explore phenomena or give up. Teachers can deliberately create uncertainty, rationalizing constructivist perspective, avoiding expected results, deferring to later. With false I don’t know, in-school socialization helps students not come to seek answers, being comfortable sharing perspectives, predicting, voting and experimenting to analyze unexpected challenges.


Furtak, E. M. (2006). The problem with answers: An exploration of guided scientific inquiry teaching. Science Education, 90(3), 453-467. doi:10.1002/sce.20130

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086

Williams, M., Linn, M. C., Ammon, P., & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206. doi:10.1023/B:JOST.0000031258.17257.48


  1. Hi Andrew

    I like the fact that you shared your own personal experiences.

    I wonder if we went back to what we learned in our practicums…if we are still following what we were taught.

    A good next step might be to create a video (including a screen capture video) on how you incorporated a PhET Simulation.


  2. Thanks Chris. I certainly felt I was teaching the way I was taught throughout my practicum, only recently trying to incorporate different strategies to present similar concepts. Also recognizing each school has different resources pushes me to make the most effective use of what technology I have available. At my practicum, I had access to a live motion detector allowing students to create graphs through embodied physical action. At my current school, I had to transition to using PhET simulations which was less equipment intensive and provided similar functionality.


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