There are a number of on-screen physics simulators that can be used to discover properties of materials. Learners can use the computer to investigate the way things move and inter-react, generating questions and providing the means to find answers. Using this genre of software there are opportunities for developing writing and visual creativity through storytelling and pictures, expanding young minds and getting them thinking.
Moovl is a Futurelab-sponsored development that has been around for ages and has huge amounts of resources accompanying it. It requires a subscription of £100 a year but the learning gains for active imaginations can be immense. There’s a wealth of discovery through experimentation to be had.
John Rowe from St. Mary’s Primary School, Albrighton, showed me Phun yesterday and after five minutes I was hooked. “What if I put a spring here? What if I move this? What happens if….????” Within a remarkably short space of time I was seeing how things worked by creating my own machines on-screen. Phun allows fluids to be modelled and is a bit more complex than Moovl, yet it’s free software and there is a community of users who post on a forum. Users can upload their creations to an online space. If you can get access, there are a number of videos on YouTube showing how to use it and some examples of what can be done.
Please let us know how you get on with these (or other) tools – there’s no substitute for having exciting examples of work from the classroom.