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This website is an ongoing project of free online simulations to help teach specific concepts in physics, biology, earth science, chemistry, and math. The website also includes sample lesson plans for teachers looking to integrate the simulations into their curriculum.

When involved in these simulations, students are posing questions, engaged in active inquiry, and they master the content concepts being taught (Adams, et al, 2008). Through these simulations, disciplinary literacy concepts such as reading graphs, charts, legends, and content vocabulary are all incorporated.

Urban Planning

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In this simulation, middle school students redesign the city of Madison based on what they know about ecology. To do this, they must use the language of urban planning, economics, and social policy. After engaging in the simulation, students showed an increased awareness of the complexities in an urban ecosystem (Gee, 2009).

Quest Atlantis

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Students assume roles of field investigators as they try to solve ecological problems in an aquatic park, including pollution of fish habitats (Gee 2009). Students interview virtual characters such as farmers, loggers, commercial fishermen, and representatives of tourism companies. It is aligned with Indiana science standards relating to cause and effect.

Researchers found that students learn both the science behind the problem and the language of ecology through playing this simulation.

PSI Sims

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This website offers seven different simulations for science students to engage in virtual science experiments. Students record their findings and observations on lab report sheets, and studies have shown a dramatic increase in student test scores following the simulations (Foti, 2007). These simulations are also good for building content-specific vocabulary.