Sunday, September 21, 2008

Simulations...boon or boondoggle?

I have been assigned this year a class in US History for 8th graders. I also teach 4 sections of physical science. My personal goal for this year is to bring in technology whenever a teaching tool, a learning tool and a tool for expression.

In history, I have found and used simulations that puts kids in the shoes of colonists in Jamestown as well as on board ship. Kids have done fact exploration online and this week are going to start their project that will use iWeb.

In science, however, I have run into some walls. For one, the system blocks many online sites that offer simulations. For another the computers that we use are a mixture of old and new and not all of them can handle the software. Finally, in science, I find that many online sites offer kids little or no chance to make mistakes...many are canned to the much so that there are not chances for kids to make errors. The hands-on, using equipment and manipulation, allows for this.

So here is the crux of my question...which is better? Exposing kids to science through technology in a very cookie-cutter way or is the equipment using part best? Are there simulations/sites out there that will do both? What have others of you found?


Demetri said...

Hey Doug,
this is a little off-topic, but have you read "Teaching for Tomorrow" by Ted McCain? It lays out a rationale for project based learning, and I can imagine stimulating some ideas for science education using technology in authentic ways (as part of a problem solving science project).

our science department recently bought a bunch of probe ware that connect to the computer for data collection. that seems like a good use.

Kiwanji said...


How about software that comes with text books? Typically that can run on older computers but still has simulations etc. Well, from what I remember of the software that came with the HS books a few years ago in PG that is.