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phet interactive

App of the Week: Free science and math simulations for all ages


Massive cache of excellent (and free!) science and math simulations

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.

PhET Interactive

What’s It Like? 

There’s no shortage of ways to use PhET simulations in (or out of) the classroom. Effectively, any time you’d use a static PowerPoint slide or textbook image to demonstrate a concept, it’s worth checking PhET to see if there’s an interactive version. Chances are high there is already one on the site. There are also virtual versions of common lab experiences, and it might be worth using the simulation if you’re short on class time or resources. Even if you have really great videos of experiments, the interactivity of these simulations will contribute so much to your lessons that it’s hard not to use both.

Price: Free

Grades: K-12

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Covers a huge range of topics across grades and accomplishes in the browser what might otherwise require tons of time and lab equipment.

Cons: Not as compelling as real-world simulations; some tools could use more freedom; the design is somewhat dated; and many tools require Java.

Bottom line: Instantly add meaningful lab experiences to math and science classrooms for exactly $0? It’s tough to beat that.

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