Tag Archives: Science

Using physicsgames.net for problem solving.

Physics games is a site I use with my class to develop thinking skills. It is a site which contains hundreds of free games which, as the name suggests have some degree of physics in them. This doesn’t mean that they are complex science games. The science involved is often simple use of gravity, although many of the games have an element of forces in them also.

The site has been updated recently to put the games into categories; block removal, construction, demolition, platform, projectile and stacking. Each game, as well as being free is easily embedded into a blog site and could be embedded into a class blog page.

I use the site for problem solving activities, with the children working in table groups and attempting to solve the puzzles on the IWB. This approach often leads to other tables seeing the solution as we collaboratively achieve the goals.

The games on the site are successful, I feel, because they do not require the ‘knowledge’ which I feel sometimes holds back problem solvers where a problem is based in maths (as I find many problem solving activities are). There is no need for number bonding, nor tables. The problems are solved generally through the problem being identified, the resources being evaluated and then a mixture of trial and error approaches. Within these trials, the children may identify changing an order of events as being required for example or using one set of resources to change to effect of another. In nearly all of the games I have used, the skills required are built steadily from one level to the next leading to a good progression of problem solving skills being required.

As well as developing these skills, the games on the site are extremely popular, I find, with many of my class working on them at home and asking to stop in through playtime to work on them.

The link is in the sidebar under the category thinking skills.

Time-Lapse Photography

A site I have used for around 7 years is this one, Plants-in-Motion. The site has many examples of time-lapse photography of plants, seeds and seedlings on it. I’ve found it useful for showing children in a short space of time scientific processes which take a long time (and often cannot be seen by the naked eye anyway). It has certainly helped children to understand some concepts which can seem quite abstract and hard to grasp.

My classes have always enjoyed looking at the footage, and my use of the site shows how far ICT in schools has come. Initially we were all looking at it around a monitor, having to download the movie first so it would work. Then it became a whiteboard projector showing it to the class. Now our ICT education of children has led to the point where children can embed the footage into presentations of their own. A further step for a class could be to use a webcam and a stop motion animation program to create their own plant life movies using modelling materials.

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