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  • Writer's pictureolivershearman

Online simulations - Sensational Science Schooling

Science is one of the most enjoyable subjects to learn and to teach. The study of the physical world is best done in person and with the relevant materials that might be available to use. Yet, the digital revolution has led to students and educators having access to materials and apparatus that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Over the past several years, I have interacted with various simulations and interactive activities which have been lesson and education enhancing for both myself and my students. While I still regard physical experiments and hands-on practicals as the gold standard when I do not have an electron microscope to hand or similar expensive and complex equipment, simulations are an excellent alternative!

Benefits of simulations:

Some of the benefits of online simulations include:

  1. Students learn to move through different forms of representation such as diagrams, names, labeled items, graphs, layouts, data, interactive equations. This can have a big benefit on their abilities over time and their flexibility for their learning.

  2. Changing and manipulating models can allow students the chance to improve mental models which they learn from textbooks and learning in typical classroom learning.

  3. Students can be more independent in their learning when provided an exploratory script which accompanies online simulations and provides them an opportunity to do different learning rather than rote learning.

  4. Freedom to look into new and otherwise unavailable scenarios and tools which would not be possible without online simulations.

Some of the items that I really enjoy using include the following mostly free items. These initial items are mostly focussed on physics in particular.

Of course, being a teacher myself I would like to suggest that you would be welcome to try my materials which cover IB DP physics, IGCSE physics, MYP physics and key stage 3 physics as well as a variety of non-exam board specific resources. The resources include simulation related scripts which support online simulation use. There is plenty there to help the budding physics teacher and that is indeed my speciality.

These are well made digital resources that can really add depth to your teaching and support your students with materials designed with teaching in mind. The simulations leave a little bit to be desired at times, however, when coupled with the flexbooks which are online digital textbooks, ck12 can be great. It might need you to sign-up though and students can do this with their google if your school approves to make free access easier for you and your students.

These are a set of online simulations for helping physics students understand various concepts. Particularly good for electricity.

I like this site because they have games that are particularly aimed at physics. While I first discovered them through crack the circuit, some of their other games / apps are also useful for teaching both at a younger level and more advanced items as well.

There are some great items here, there is a broad range of simulations and activities which show a large range of astronomy learning.


Crack the circuit - is particularly useful at helping students learn how to structure simple circuits and understand their dynamics.

Ophysics online simulations - great for electricity in particular.

Science simulations overall

PHET simulations is run by the university of Colorado and is particularly useful in helping to show sometimes difficult and challenging concepts for students. While they do not cover everything, there is a lot of helpful items in these interactive online simulations and constantly kept up to date and functional. These cover many different items in different parts of science.

The Javalab simulations are relatively simple in nature, but provide a great set of items that can enhance learning and not just for physics, but for all kinds of science items.

Labster is a simulation platform that I have run into previously, they really care about their work and helping students to understand concepts on an intuitive level. Their simulations have large amounts of detail and are about as interactive as online simulations can be.

This link is to the site about biology simulations, actually known as biology simulations. There is quite a bit of variety available on these ones.


Regardless of what you might necessarily think of online simulations, they provide a wonderful and readily available opportunity. As a constantly online teacher and tutor, I know they are an absolutely vital tool that I can use as well as requesting students to gather materials for a lab that they run themselves, but for those that are more complex or expensive, simulations are amazing to use.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers and stay curious

Oliver - The Teaching Astrophysicist

(Note: This blog post was NOT generated by AI and is conceived, typed and uploaded by a real person.)

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