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Free, Online STEM Platform Allows Teachers to Simulate Labs for Distance Learning

A free, interactive STEM education project from the University of Colorado Boulder has seen an explosion in usage since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed “PhET Interactive Simulations,” the platform allows teachers to simulate learning laboratories for online classrooms, making it popular among educators in regions severely impacted by the pandemic. Since the pandemic started, PhET has received a 500% jump in users in France and Italy, where COVID-19 forced schools to shutter for months.

Developed in 2002, PhET (then called “Physics Education Technology”) was originally developed to allow teachers to create physics simulations, but now covers a much broader range of math and science educational resources for kids, including:

  • HTML
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Math

The project spans more than 100 simulations and has been translated into 90 languages in over 200 countries and regions throughout the world. Simulations can be broken down by grade level and device. 

Since the start of the pandemic, PhET has added more features to help teachers, including remote learning lessons, Google Docs, educator tips for distance learning, prototype simulations, and more. 

“The simulations that PhET offers are an excellent way to make sure that students can get the lab hours that they need,” Andrew Wallace, a physics teacher in New York City, told Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine. “If I were to do some other sort of lab that required certain materials, I can’t guarantee that all of the students in their home might have all of those materials. … To have the online simulation with everything they need ready to go is amazing.” 

Teacher Resources from TryEngineering

As schools close, many teachers are looking for options to transition their curriculums to home learning. Additionally, many parents and guardians are looking for online activities to keep their children educated and entertained. TryEngineering has curated free resources available to support teachers and parents during this unprecedented and challenging time. See available resources today.


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