Exploring Virtual Labs


As I prepare for the upcoming school year I have been searching for good virtual lab websites. Here is the best of what I have found:

PhET – Range of physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math simulations, search by content or by grade level, teacher notes and activities also available

Glencoe Virtual Labs – Range of life science, physical science, and earth science

ChemCollective – Virtual labs and scenario based learning

Learn Genetics – Small selection of virtual labs

hhmi Biointeractive – Small selection of virtual labs, many other resources on website

Molecular Workbench – Must download each lab

The Physics Classroom – Some good interactives

Earthquake Simulator

Prepmagic – Still trying to figure this one out…unsure if there is pricing involved

Go-Lab – Range of physics, chemistry, life Science, earth science, and math


The following sites have resources beyond virtual labs:

Annenberg Learner

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Summer Learning – Part 2

I have been looking for interactive sites for science, and I came across Wisc-Online. I have mentioned this site before, but I never explored the full extent of their website. There are three main categories on the home screen – learn, play games, and build games. In the “Learn” section, there are interactive slideshows and videos on a variety of topics related to computer science, science, math, and the humanities. In “Play Games”, you can choose from the same subjects, and games range in type (flashcards, hangman, jeopardy, matching, memory, bingo, tic-tac-toe, and many more). What I especially like, however, is the “Build games” section. The entire selection of game types is available, but you can tailor your game to your own content. They even provide an image library for you to use in your game. If you are going to build your own games, then I highly recommend exploring the variety of games beforehand. This will make it easier to build your own games. Have fun exploring!

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Science Interactives

Interactive sites allow students to practice learned concepts in a fun and engaging way, especially with the increased use of interactive whiteboards and iPads. This week I have chosen to share some of my favourite interactive science websites. If you have a website that I should add to my list, please send it along.

Have a great week.

Phet Interactives

Nova Interactives from PBS

Utah Education Network Interactives

Foss Interactives

Sheppart Software

NASA For Students

Sumanas Inc

Science NetLinks

Jefferson Lab

SEED Laboratory

BBC Bitesize 


WISC Online Learning Objects

Study Jams

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Let the labs begin….

After completing my first lab with my grade 7 and 8 classes, the following thoughts have filled my mind:

It is hard for students to have a triple beam balances in front of them, and not play with them. After the labs this week, we went from having 7 working triple beam balances to four. I am not quite sure what happened, and it is quite possible that they were on the brink of doom before the labs, but still…

To help students learn proper use, I will be posting the following websites on my school science page:
(This will, of course, be followed with more in-class practise. In my class, the more hands-on activities, the better. )

WISC Online – Reading a Triple Beam Balance

Triple Beam Balance use and tutorials from OHAUS

But there is also the thought that using triple beam balances may not be the only way to go. We have now begun to consider the use of digital scales. I was on a tour of the science labs at another IB school in Toronto, as we are looking at design considerations for a new science lab. The school that I visited had a slew of digital scales out on the counter. The cost is greater, and so we must consider whether or not cheaper digital scales will be as effective. But they have to be more effective than non-functional triple beam balances, don’t they? There is also the skill factor. Students should be learning to use various lab tools. I don’t think that we should abandon the balances, but perhaps find a way to incorporate both.

Then we come to graduated cylinders. With my grade 7 class, it came to the point where I was doing the measuring for them. Not the way I would normally go, but there were other considerations that were more important at the time. Over the next few weeks I need to make sure that I properly teach students how to read a graduated cylinder. I will be posting these sites to help them review the process, and then will follow up with an in-class activity:

WISC Online – Measuring Volume using a Graduated Cylinder

ChemPages Laboratory Resources – Reading the Volume from a Graduated Cylinder (Update – link no longer active)

This week my grade 7 and 8 classes will be handing in their first lab reports as a follow up to the in-class labs. In past years, the marking of lab reports has been all-consuming. I welcome any strategies that you can share so that I do not have to enter hibernation as I mark.

Have a great week.

Posted by admin in General Science, Grade 7 Science, Grade 8 Science, 0 comments


This week’s post is credited to two people, Pete MacKay and Mark Sheridan. Pete MacKay maintains theteacherlist, a daily mailing that recommends various educational websites, as shared by his subscribers. Mark Sheridan sent in this website, which Pete then sent out to his subscribers.

The site that is being highlighted is called studyjams, which seems to be maintained by Scholastic. It has a math and science section, each of which are interactive whiteboard friendly. The math section seems to cover a range of topics, including various concepts within number sense, geometry, algebra, measurement, data analysis, probability, and problem solving. There are options to have the math problem read aloud, to test yourself or work step-by-step, and to review key vocabulary.  The science section also covers a variety of topics which seem to support the grades 4 and 5 Ontario curriculum (amongst others), including light and sound, the human body, ecosystems, rocks and minerals, weather and climate, matter, and the list goes on. With the science topics you can watch slideshows and videos, test yourself, and review key vocabulary.

…a good website to add to your links.

Posted by admin in General Science, Grade 6 Science, Math, 0 comments

Fun with Applets

This week I am beginning Pythagorean Theorem with my students.  They will have the chance to explore some applets. Here are the ones that I will be using:

IES Applet  This is one of a series of applets on Pythagorean Theorem on this website, but it is my favourite of the group. In this applet squares a and b get broken into pieces, and then all of the pieces from both squares must be rearranged to fit into square c. (Update – link to no longer active)

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives  There are two different puzzles to solve in this applet. In the first puzzle, there is a shape that has an area of c2 and another shape that has an area of a2 + b2. The same pieces are used to fill each of the two shapes, thus showing that the shapes have the same area.  The second puzzle is similar in nature to the first, but the pieces are different and the two shapes are the same.

Nova Applet  This applet allows the user to drag all of square a into square c, and then break apart square b so that the smaller squares fill the empty space in square c.

Davis Associates  This demonstration moves pieces around to show that the area of square c is equal to the area of squares a + b.

After they explore some applets, they will choose their favourite one and attempt to use the concepts to create a hands-on interactive activity. Please feel free to use and modify the following assignment sheet:

Pondering Pythagoras

If you have other Pythagorean Theorem ideas that I could incorporate into my lesson, I would love to hear from you.

Have a  great week.

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Plant a SEED, watch it grow.

Have you heard about SEED?

SEED stands for ‘Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development’. It is a “non-profit education program that focuses on underserved communities”, in its own words.  The overall goal is to enable educators in all parts of the world to ignite a passion in students for the learning of science. It encourages an understanding of various global issues, and it strives to have students make these issues a focus in their lives.

The online Laboratory is what I like to explore, and more importantly, what I like my students to explore.  Some of the labs are activities for you to carry out with your own students, while others are online explorations that are perfect for at home trials or presentation on an interactive whiteboard.

I have used the Buoyancy Explorer with my students. This online exploration allows the user to test various solids to see how they will float in various fluids. On the same page there are links to Archimedes principle and other teaching facts related to buoyancy. The students have also enjoyed using the Viscosity Explorer. Again, many links are provided for other activities and labs that are related to the topic.

There are many teaching ideas and lessons, with the topic labels being air and space, earth science, electricity and magnetism, properties of liquids, and energy. There are many worthwhile activities to explore in each of these areas.

But don’t stop there. Below the Laboratory links are a series of Math links as well. Click on Math and it opens into the various curriculum strands, each highlighting a series of activities and puzzles to support learning in that area.

And yet one more area in the Science section of the SEED website is the Articles section. These appear to be small fact based articles in various areas of the science curriculum.

These are but a few sections of the SEED website. I was content to stop there, but you may want to explore more.

Posted by admin in General Science, Grade 8 Science, Using Tech, 0 comments

…and we’re back!

January 24, 2011

Yes. I am actually writing something.

No excuses. It is what it is.

Today’s subject is science. Even before we had our Smartboards installed in our classrooms, I have always loved using interactive websites for teaching. I send the students home with instructions to complete an activity on a website, and they go home actually excited to do their homework. What a great way to learn.

One of my favourite science sites is the PhET Interactive Simulation lab, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. There are simulations for physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math, too. You can search by topic or by grade level. Click on the section for teachers, and there you can browse the activities that others have submitted – activities which incorporate the simulations. Brilliant. Feeling generous? You can submit your own activities, as well.

The one that I have most used is the Circuit Construction Kit for the Grade 6 Electricity unit. I have created a set of challenges with parallel and series circuits, and I have the students try them out on the website before building the circuits in class. I have attached the worksheets that I created.

Go ahead, give it a try.

Series and Parallel Circuits Worksheets

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A Smart Educator

I have been very good at using my Smartboard to enhance my curriculum with interative websites, but I feel as if I could be doing more with the Notebook software. So I have been searching the internet for Notebook files that have already been created, that I can either use as is or make slight modificaitons in order to fit my needs. So far, this is what I have found:

1. Smart Educator Resources

This is usually the first place that I check. There are a few different ways to search. You can go into the SmartExchange, where you can search for lessons by keyword, grade, or subject. You can also search the lesson activities by country and related curriculum expectations.

2. Scholastic’s Interactive Whiteboard Lessons Page

Another set of Notebook collections.

3. Mathgains

From the Edugains website – they have added TIPS interactive whiteboard lessons. There aren’t many, but they have to start somewhere…..

4. There are also a series of blogs that you can find regarding Smartboard use. Here are a few to start you off….

Teachers Love SmartBoards

SmartBoard Revolution

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