Simbucket.com is pleased to announce that the HTML5 version of the Chemthink “Atomic Structure” tutorial and problem set is now online. Because the new version is designed from the ground up for HTML5, it means that students with iPads, iPod Touches, or phones can now run the tutorial in a browser without needing an actual computer. In 1:1 classrooms, this means students won’t need to go to the computers to log in. It should take approximately five minutes less to get students up and running with the tutorial.
In creating the HTML5 version, I tried to stay as faithful as possible to the original Flash version, only adding or making changes where it made sense. For teachers, this means any worksheets or activities you created based on the original should still work with the HTML5 version.
When a student clicks to launch the app, they are presented with a choice between the tutorial and the problem set. In practice, I have found that it is easiest to tell my students to open up and run the tutorial in one browser tab while running the problem set in another. If a student misses a question, I tell them to find the answer in the tutorial before clicking the “continue” button.
Because there is no student login required, students are able to get started very quickly. This also means that students will need to show you when they are finished with the problem set. I have included a large gold star on the completion screen so that you can very quickly glance at a student’s screen to see that they are finished. For students completing the problem sets at home, I have asked that they take a “selfie” with their completion screen.
Because of the amount of class time I have saved by not requiring a log in, I am strongly considering permanently eliminating the need to log in. The drawback to not requiring students to log in is that teachers will have no ability to track student progress, other than physically observing their students’ screens. If you can’t live without the student tracking feature, please speak up!
From start to finish, the “Atomic Structure” HTML5 port took 12 days to complete. I am hoping that I can maintain this pace for the remaining 9 tutorial/problem sets, plus the “Chemical Reactions” lab simulation. At this rate I should finish everything in about 20 weeks, roughly around the beginning of September.
I’ve begun the process of rewriting Chemthink from scratch. At this point I’m looking at reusing all of the existing animations and texts, but we have an opportunity to make the suite of tutorials, question sets, and virtual labs even better. I can’t promise anything because I have only a finite amount of time to finish the project, but I would like to open things up for input from Chemthink users.
So far, the to-do list includes:
If you could change anything about Chemthink, what would you change?
If you could add any capabilities, what would you add?
A few weeks ago I posted 8 of the original Chemthink Flash tutorials. I am excited to announce that the Chemthink problem sets are now available for these tutorials! The question sets require students to answer a certain number correct before they miss a small number of questions. As a result they are fairly difficult. If students struggle on a problem set, they are encouraged to take a look at the tutorial again.
There is no server backend, so if you want to keep track of which problem sets or tutorials you or your students have completed you will need to take a screenshot of the completion screen.
Tutorials and their corresponding problem sets are now available for the following:
In addition, over the next few days I post two more problem sets without tutorials: “Chemical Reactions” and “Isotopes”. At the moment the tutorials for each of these are nonfunctional, but I will do my best to get both the tutorials and their question sets working as soon as I can.
This week in physical science we needed a basic simulation to show a particle model of the melting and boiling of ice. “Melting and Boiling” is designed to address very basic questions, such as “What is ice?”, “What is water?”, “What is steam?”, and “What happens to water molecules as temperature rises?”
Would you like to see more basic chemistry simulations? If so, comment below, and I will try to get to them when I can!
After over one year on iTunes, Google Play, and online, DC Circuit Builder has proven to be Nerd Island‘s most successful app. It works well in our physics classrooms because it is simple. It doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles, and doesn’t worry about the fact that in most beginning electronics labs you are working in kilo-Ohms and milli-Amps rather than Ohms and Amps. Students seem to respond to the fact that it is laid out on a grid and that you can draw wires across the screen simply by swiping your finger. However, as with any app, there will always be room for improvement and new features. The most common feature request by far is to add switches to the simulation.
Thanks to our school’s time off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and a little nudging from another teacher, I made the time to add knife switches to the simulation. Under the “Draw” tab, students can now choose between a wire, a knife switch, a resistor, a light bulb, and an inline ammeter. By adding switches, students can now model household lighting circuits as well as more complex systems.
I will push the new version out to iTunes and Google Play when I have time, but for now you can find the new version of DC Circuit Builder right here on SimBucket. If you have previously run the web-based version of DC Circuit Builder, make sure to clear your browser cache so that you can load the most up-to-date version.
Please give it a shot, and let me know what you think!
With all the free time (hah!) afforded by the new school year, we have been busy putting together new simulations for our students. Two of these made their way onto simbucket.com: “Graph Matching” and “Tennis Ball Cannon”. Both simulations are built using HTML5 technology and are optimized for phones and tablet screens.
We built “Graph Matching” as a supplement to the classic physics experience where students have to walk forward and backward in front of a motion sensor to match the graph on a computer screen. Our simulated version is miniaturized to fit on the small screen. Each student guides a character walking forward or backward to match a graph on their mobile device. It worked great in physical science class to drive home the idea that steeper slopes = faster speeds.
“Tennis Ball Cannon” is a model of our tennis ball launcher that we use to shoot football field goals from ridiculous distances. Our real-life tennis ball cannon typically launches tennis balls at greater than 80 meters per second, which meant that it was necessary to account for air drag in the model. Students can easily adjust launch speed, launch angle, drag coefficient, air density, ball mass, and ball cross-section to make more accurate predictions of the trajectory of a tennis ball. Our students had a great time using the model to determine how fast our cannon shoots.
We hope you enjoy these simulations as much as we have. Please give them a try and let us know what you think!
Chris Bruce, Martin Kulak, Kevin Shane, and David Torpe were featured on Sunday night’s news broadcast on KTUU Anchorage for their work at the ASTE Conference 2015. Check out the news clip on the KTUU website!