PhET Simulations – Mathematics


PhET Simulations – Math HTML5

A reminder of all the wonderful PhET simulations available for Mathematics which work on PCs, tablets and phones – Math-HTML5.

Teachers can register for an account which is highly recommended as this offers access to a wealth of further resources including clear instructions for the use of each simulation and activities for students.

If you have not checked these for a while note the latest addition on Vectors, Vector Addition offers choices of  a 1D Screen, a 2-D Screen, and a Lab Screen where students can play with two sets of vectors and compare their sums and add up to 10 vectors of the same type. Using Vector Addition: Equations students can experiment with vector equations and compare vector sums and differences. It is possible to customize the base vectors or explore scalar multiplication by adjusting the coefficients in equation.
PhET vectors

See also Tips for Using PhET.

I have mentioned the excellent PhET Simulations many times on this blog, some reminders below:


Algebra - Area model

Try Area Model Algebra, this is very simple to use. Rectangles of various sizes can be built showing the relationship between multiplication and area.

See also Area Model Decimals and Equality Explorer.

Area Model - Decimals - PhET Simulations

Equality Explorer - PhET SIMS

The ability to display or hide the variable and to take snapshots means working can be clearly shown.

Equality Explorer 2 - PhET SIMS

To help students understand the links between algebraic and graphical representations technology can be so helpful. Try Graphing Quadratics. Using this you can generate definitions for vertex, roots, axis of symmetry and compare different forms of a quadratic function. For your older students, you can define a curve by its focus and directrix!

PhET Quadratics Explorer

PhET Quadratics Explorer focus directrix


Try Graphing Slope-Intercept which allows you to easily demonstrate the equation of a straight line.
PhET slope intercept

We can demonstrate correlation coefficients and lines of best fit with this PhET simulation on Least Squares Regression.

Correlation & Line of best fit

Choose from a range of examples or choose Custom to add your own points and guess then check the correlation coefficient. You can also draw your own line of best fit and compare it to the theoretical line of best fit. Note the option to include residuals for both your own attempt and the line of best fit.

Trig Tour

Trig Tour is another personal favourite, use degrees or radians. Students can look for patterns in the values and on the graph when you change the value of theta. This simulation shows how trig functions are defined for negative angles and angles greater than 90 degrees.

For an excellent introduction to Functions the PhET Simulation, Function Builder provides a very visually appealing resource. Using the pattern option even very young students could explore important concepts. This is very intuitive to use, the slides in the following slideshow demonstrate examples of its use. 

PhET Balancing Act working nicely on my phone!

Staying with Mechanics, one of my favourites now available in HTML5 collection: Projectile Motion.


PhET Projectiles

The simulations are all free to use online, and/or you can download all the HTML5 sims so they are available offline in an app. Available at a very low price ($0.99) for iOS and Android this supports HTML5 sims.