P686: Next generation of PhET, right in your web browser: New HTLM5 simulations for teaching and learning chemistry

Author: Patricia Loeblein, PhET Interactive Simulations CU Boulder, USA

Co-Author: Julia Chamberlain and Katherine Perkins, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Date: 8/6/14

Time: 10:15 AM10:35 AM

Room: LTT 102

Related Symposium: S17

The PhET Interactive Simulations project (http://phet.colorado.edu) has developed a suite of over 30 chemistry simulations, which are used world-wide. The simulations provide interactive environments in which students learn through scientist-like exploration and experimentation. The simulations emphasize the connections between real-life phenomena and the underlying science, make the invisible visible, and include visual models that experts use to aid their thinking. PhET’s design principles draw upon cognitive research on how people learn, discipline-based research on student difficulties, and research on simulation design. In this presentation, we will discuss the PhET design principles and processes, highlighting new design features and research around our growing suite of simulations in HTML5. Our new HTML5 simulations run in the web browser, enabling simulation use on tablets (such as iPads) and Chromebooks. Additionally, we will provide ideas for using PhET in a variety of education environments.

P586: Placing interactive technology into the hands of students: Student perspectives on PhET simulations in the general chemistry curriculum

Author: Julia M. Chamberlain, University of Colorado - Boulder, USA

Co-Author: Ingrid M. Ulbrich, Colorado State University, USA; Robert Parson, University of Colorado Boulder and JILA, USA; Katherine K. Perkins, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 2:05 PM2:25 PM

Room: MAK B1100

Related Symposium: S44

Chemistry students confront a variety of difficult concepts that involve molecular-level processes, which are inaccessible to direct observation. Simulations and animations can help students to visualize these processes and connect their mental imagery to the symbolic representations used by experts. In this work we examine the use of PhET interactive simulations in a first-semester general chemistry course of approximately 600 students. PhET simulations feature open, exploratory environments with intuitive interfaces that enable student-directed investigation, and serve as flexible tools for faculty use in a variety of pedagogical contexts. More than 20 simulations were incorporated throughout the curriculum in several formats, including student-driven and instructor-led activities in class. Student perceptions of simulation utility and student-reported use of simulations were assessed in two surveys, administered at intervals through the term. Here, we will examine factors that affect student perceptions of simulations and reflect on how these outcomes inform choices about using simulations in class. Finally, we will discuss the potential implications that different use modes have on student perceptions of simulations and expectations for the process of learning chemistry.

P587: Students’ use of interactive simulations in lecture: Instructor perspectives

Author: Ingrid Ulbrich, Colorado State University, USA

Co-Author: Julia Chamberlain, University of Colorado, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: MAK B1100

Related Symposium: S44

One of my major goals as an instructor is to help students build critical thinking skills and engage in scientific practices by asking questions, constructing explanations, and investigating systems themselves. Accomplishing this in lecture poses logistical challenges and has time constraints, while assigning these tasks outside of class diminishes the instructor’s ability to facilitate student learning and guide discussion in real time, with all students present. I choose to use in-class time for student simulation use and invite the 250+ students in my general chemistry lecture to bring their laptop/phone/tablet for this purpose. With effective guiding questions and follow-up clicker questions, my students collaboratively describe their observations in lay and technical language and participate in instructor-guided, whole-class discussion. In this talk, I will discuss how I use interactive simulations to address these goals and challenges, using an activity style that combines lecture, guided inquiry, and student simulation investigation. I will share my recommendations for choosing simulations that work well for in-class activities, writing effective guiding questions, and reflections on this practice and its use in a co-teaching environment.