Reflection: Student Led Inquiry Using PhET Simulation to Test Sinking and Floating for Solids (Day 1) - Section 2: Introducing Simulation and Expectations for Activity


Technology is a tool that helps students deepen their understanding of science. Without structure and clear expectations, however, technology is viewed more as a fun activity. Fun is good when learning, but educators must provide specific expectations in order to get the most out of our students. Generally, I let my students develop their own data tables, but I found that asking them to set the tables up in a specific way led to more time analyzing their results and less time trying to figure out how to set up a table.  

When viewing a simulation, your goal should be to address how you can develop a 3-Dimensional approach to learning about the topic. In this case, students are learning about density and molecules (DCIs), finding patterns and cause and effect relationships (CCC) and developing Science and Engineering Practices when they write Claims-Evidence-Reasoning statements about each aspect of the simulation. Simulations are great, but educators are responsible for creating a structure that deepens understanding for our students.

In this case, I wanted my students to develop an understanding of density by analyzing results from certain parts of the simulation. Once students collected their data from each simulation, they were required to analyze (find patterns) and create arguments that were supported by evidence (Practices). The content included applying students' prior knowledge of molecular structure and understanding of mass and volume to explain how density works.

  Using Simulations as a Tool
  Student Led Inquiry: Using Simulations as a Tool
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Using PhET Simulation to Test Sinking and Floating for Solids (Day 1)

Unit 6: Density
Lesson 5 of 8

Objective: SWBAT collect observations from various density simulations.

Big Idea: Evidence-based explanations derived from evidence-based argumentation can happen only if students collect their own data. This lesson gives students time to manipulate various characteristics of matter to deepen their understanding of density.

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  45 minutes
sink or float
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