The PhET website has been a favourite of mine for a long time. Created by the University of Colorado Boulder it hosts a wonderful array of interactive science and maths simulations for students.
Recently, many of the simulations have been converted to HTML5 to make them iPad-friendly, and now they’ve released an app too!
The app delivers all their HTML5 sims with these extra features:
- Automatic updates: get the latest HTML5 sims as soon as they are released.
- Offline play: learn on the bus or at the park without a WiFi connection.
- Favorites: pick your favorite sims and create your own custom collection.
- Streamlined sorting: enjoy an intuitive interface and multiple filters.
- Fullscreen: maximize your screen real estate for optimal sim exploration.
At present there are 40 sims on the app. A filter lets you select by subject or by school level. Most of the apps are aimed at secondary / high school students, but there are some that would be suitable for upper primary too. A few are also suitable for A level and even degree level. There’s quite a bit of overlap. Visit the website for teaching ideas and associated resources.
A particular favourite is the John Travoltage app which is a rather fun ways to visualise a difficult concept such as static electricity (try it, it’s great!). But it’s not an involved simulation in the way that something like the Ohm’s Law or Hooke’s Law sims are. These are able to generate “proper” data and could form part of a simple investigation.
Sadly, the Circuit Construction kits are not yet available – they’re still Java apps rather than HTML5. This is a shame as these are really great apps to use when teaching about electricity, especially if the electrical kit isn’t working too well. Hopefully they’ll appear on the app sometime.
The PhET Simulations app costs 70p (99 cents in the US store) and by paying for the app you’re helping to fund PhET to continue to develop more interactive content in the future.