Saturday, October 23, 2010

A review of the technology that can be used in a science classroom (software based)

In this post I will be offering a quick overview of three different pieces of technology that are out there for teachers to let their students take advantage of in a science classroom. These are all software based (meaning a computer needs to be in place but the majority of the features will be done from an application), whereas last post I focused on the hardware side of technology.

Science Pipes
SciencePipes is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Information Science Program and is funded by the National Science Digital Library. This software is web-based, meaning any computer with an internet connection can access the program. (However I noticed it doesn’t allow for Microsoft Internet Explorer!!) It is a free service that allows students to build scientific workflows, called pipes, from an information rich set of biodiversity data. One of the topics a student can investigate with this software is the distribution of plant and animal species across biomes. Since the students can access millions of records without having to download or directly handle data, they are enabled to streamline inquiry and discovery. It’s an easy click and drag interface, and visualizing the data with charts and graphs is easy.

GENIQUEST is a project that provides a free cyberlearning platform in the area of biology, particularly genetics. This software can be access via the web as well, and after clicking on the lesson link a Java platform will load on your computer. These lessons are self-guided and allows for the students to act as researchers in the lab portion of the activity. Because breeding of real organisms takes time to see that outcome, GENIQUEST allows a greater understanding because of rapid testing and results of hypotheses. Once students become familiar with the general concept of trait characteristics, the advance portion exposes them to QTL analysis (Quantitative Trait Loci). This software programs transforms the way students develop an understanding of genetics.

Interactive Simulations
The PhET project at the University of Colorado provides fun, interactive, research based simulations of physical phenomena. Currently, there are about 100 sims to choose from in the areas of chemistry, Earth science, biology, and physics. Teachers are able to access these straight from the website , or download to a disk and access from computers that are not on the internet. These simulations can be used in a variety of ways such as in the classroom, as a lab, or for homework. The developed software is great because it allows students to manipulate variables and reinforce their understanding of the topic.
**I really encourage you to bookmark this site or go to the website and download the sims. I think they are fantastic tools!!

Are there any other software programs you think are great learning tools? If so, please share.... Also, I'd be curious to see what sim you liked best and could find usage in your classroom!!


  1. Wow, these are great. The PhEt project sounds awesome. I think being able to provide students these life like stimulation would help them not only to understand a topic better but help generate a real interest in whatever topic is being studied. I'm curious about what grade levels are most appropriate for these sites. I will definitely be checking them out! Thanks.

  2. Great resources! I find it to be so important to have access to resources for your students! These will all help to better engage your students in a classroom along with promoting organization and creativity! I sometimes think that some of these sites can be very confusing and take more time away from learning the content but I found these to be easily manipulated by a new user!