Simulation has been around for more than 20 years, so what is compelling more science teachers and school districts to add it to their bag of resources? Just as early video games with their simply designed interfaces and limited functionality evolved into today’s fully immersive games, simulations have also evolved.
Moving from simple click-and-play applications, modern simulations now allow students to fully control the virtual environment, manipulate variables, and collect and analyze multiple outcomes. Using simulations expands the possibilities that are limited in just one classroom. The most developed subject area for educational simulations revolves around the STEM fields. We should always want to expand the educational opportunities that we see in STEM areas, mostly because these are the careers of the future. Here are some reasons why science teachers should use simulations.
1. Simulations allow for more lab experiences
With virtual simulations, students get to visualize and interact with concepts outside the realm of a traditional lab. They can manipulate the organelles of a microscopic cell or variables such as gravity and friction. Some simulations offer a full laboratory experience, thus allowing students to participate in labs that are typically reserved for teacher demonstrations. Simulations that recreate valuable experiments but are too laborious or difficult to control, such as Mendel’s pea plant experiment or breeding fruit flies, can easily be carried out in one class period.
2. Simulations make it easy for every student to participate
In one-to-one classrooms, simulations let each student practice and interact with scientific skills and concepts. This allows for multiple and varied data sets to be collected, analyzed, and shared in collaborative groups. When each student is fully engaged in the learning process, they can share their experiences and discuss the results with more confidence.