Thursday, August 30, 2012

SimUText: Stimulating Science Class

By Sean Scarpiello

As my classmates and I were dismissed from our first ecology class, we began dreading all of the new homework we were assigned. The work to do for our next class was not like typical homework. We did not have to read and take notes, or even complete worksheets. The homework we were assigned was all computer based on a program called SimUText. This software is designed to help science students understand new concepts by providing simulations which offer the material in a form where it is visualized in a much easier manner. So after our first assignments on the program, many students had their own opinions on this new method of learning.

First, we needed to download the software through the internet which did not take too long at all. After giving the site our school email address, the site recognized my professor’s account on the site. This allowed the professor to assign us only the lessons he thought were useful. This was nice because the site is extremely user friendly, which is important because it allows students to focus on the material without having difficulty navigating the site.

As we began to work through the assignment, SimUText was extremely clear in conveying the material and had a lot of visuals which kept us entertained. The simulations also worked well as they were easy to carryout and pertaining to material being taught. The simulations were also beneficial because they were not too restrictive. For example, one simulation’s goal was to show the evolution of a type of fish when exposed to different conditions. Although the simulation asked to expose the fish to one factor, we could branch off and test other factors over several generations. I was impressed that the simulations did not appear as if they were all predetermined and the same for everyone. In fact, if a student ran a simulation multiple times, the results would be different each time. This was interesting in the regard that everyone is not experiencing the same monotonous experiment.

One other great feature of SimUText was that it keeps the student active. Throughout the entire lesson, students are asked to make predictions and answer questions pertaining to the reading and simulations. By keeping the student’s mind involved in the material, the subject matter becomes interesting. It also ensures students are reading and not just skimming through the material. The program even allows the teacher to look in on how much time each student spend on different sections as well as their answers to the questions. Our teacher is looking at our answers and giving us a grade on how well we do. It is also nice because he can look in on everyone’s answers and determine which topics need to be reviewed in class.

When class rolled around after our first SimUText homework assignment, there were mixed reviews on the program. Overall, there seemed to be a love-hate relationship with SimUText. The majority of students thought the simulations were interesting and much better than having to read or take notes from the textbook. Others felt that the simulations wasted time because they could read the material in the textbook much quicker than going through all of the simulations. To this response to the program, the professor asked if students just read and took notes from the book, would they understand the material as well as if they had gone through the simulations. The answer across the room was “No.”

Overall, SimUText is a great tool to use in a science class at any level. By keeping students active in the material, students spend more time on the material and retain much more of the information as compared with to traditional textbook work. The program is extremely simple for students and teachers to use and all of the lessons are premade for the teachers. The ability for teachers to follow each student’s performance through the material is also a bonus as they can use the program as a gauge to see what the class understands and what needs to be reviewed in class.

http://simbio.com/

4 comments:

Laurie Sanders said...

Nicee...

Laurie Sanders said...

Thanks for sharing...

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