Posts Tagged ‘online simulations’

In addition to the Virtual Urchin simulation, I’m interested in a few more that were mentioned in Technology in the Secondary Science Classroom (Bell, Gess-Newsome, Luft). And as we understand that online and computer simulations don’t replace first-hand experiences, they do represent great supplemental material.

I teach a seventh grade class that includes Life Science and Environmental Science components, and a 9th grade Biology class. I’ll talk more about supplemental materials for my 7th graders with online data sets (post forthcoming). But there are quite a few that I’m looking forward to exploring more with my biology students.

The pbs.org You Try It pages contain the relevant content areas: Atom Builder, Human Evolution, and DNA Workshop.

I’ve found Cells Alive very unseful in the past when discussing (and illustrating) cell organelles, cell cycle, mitosis, and meiosis. The interactive portion of the website, including the animations and schematic diagrams, are clear and helpful to students.

For other topics in biology, I might consider trying ExploreLearning.com, although this is a commercial website, and I’d have to balance the benefits of its simulations with the cost of subscribing. It does look like they have a ton online. Here are the selected topics in Heredity and Genetics that they offer. I might consider trying the 30-day trial during that unit to get a feel for it. Does anyone have experience with this site that they can share?

Lasty, the Cell Biology Animations at www.johnkyrk.com look incredibly detailed. I plan on using those.


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Image: Sea Urchin Embryology Tutorial, Hardin Lab, Dept of Zoology, University of Wisconsin

One online simulation that I think is quite well done (and that I use already in my classes) is the Virtual Urchin, which is a project out of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. I did a lab with them at an NABT conference a few years ago. I found the lab fascinating and their resources extremely helpful.

Quick highlights:

  • Online procedure and support for live Sea Urchin fertilization labs – great for high school Biology classes: external fertilization, easily visible under light microscopes, rapid early cleavage stages
  • Virtual simulations and interactive tutorials for students to practice scientific measurement, microscope use; review basics of sea urchin anatomy, predator prey relationships, fertilization, and early stages of embryonic development
  • Useful teacher resources and additional links

For my seventh graders, their microscope tutorial is a terrific addition as a pre-lab before viewing live protists in class. In the online tutorial, students can manipulate focus knobs, adjust the diaphragm, change slides, change objectives. It gives them a quick review of microscope parts, terminology, and procedure, and I’ve found that it allows students to spend more time looking at actual protists once we’re doing that lab. You could have students work through the tutorial at home the night before, or you could devote a class period to it (depending on your schedule and/or computer or microscope availability).

If you teach biology or use microscopes, it’s worth checking out.

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