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Physics with PhET Interactive Simulations

Three Ogden Senior Teacher Fellows are working on projects to support the use of PhET in the classroom.

Published: 15 March 2024

This year, we have been funding three Ogden Senior Teacher Fellows to complete curriculum resource projects supporting the use of PhET Interactive Simulations in the classroom. Physics teachers David Morfee and Callum Farnsworth, both use PhET simulations within their own teaching and have been exploring how they can support trainee and early career teachers to best utilise these valuable teaching resources. 

David has adopted a strategy to focus student interactions around a set of exploratory tasks known as Challenge Prompts. He has now shared this approach with over 60 trainee teachers and six teacher educators and has been impressed with the outcomes. “Although teachers have to invest time up-front to consider high-quality open-ended prompts, it is quite a simple process and leads to creative and fruitful responses from the student,” explains David. He will continue to work with initial teacher training institutions and with existing teachers whilst developing resources across Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

Callum has also been introducing PhET to PGCE students, introducing the resources and hoping to embed good practice before these trainee teachers are established in the classroom. “The training session focused on the educational research which has been carried out into the use of digital simulations, and how this research can inform our use of PhET when teaching physics to the 11–18 age range,” explains Callum. “I explored three main ways of using PhET in class discussion, in simple investigations driven by driving questions, and in more in-depth structured investigations.” 

The picture is of a classroom with Callum, with other teachers discussing his powerpoint.

Jed Marshall is using his Teacher Fellowship to help coach non-specialist teachers of physics to deepen their subject knowledge, whilst at the same time enhancing his own teaching experience:  “Being a senior fellow has given me the time and flexibility to explore truly innovative and exciting projects. We rarely get this time as teachers and the opportunity for me to work internationally with the team at PhET is a highlight of my career so far. The balance of stellar professional development, independence, and autonomy, is a true highlight of the fellowship.” 

You can visit the PhET blog to find out more about these fellowship projects. 

“This collaboration with PhET has been really positive,” says Head of Teacher Support, Charley Phillips. “It is great to see these fellowship projects evolving and progressing and to see the impact they can have on wider teaching practice. Fellowships are awarded to teachers who have demonstrated their commitment to physics education and want to expand their skills while remaining in the classroom. Seeing these teachers develop and share their expertise, experience and practice to support others in the profession is fantastic.” 

Applications are currently open (deadline March 28) for new Fellowships starting in September 2024. The programme includes a time buy-out and half-termly mentoring to support the development and delivery of the project, as well as additional funding to help cover project costs.

Find further information on the projects available, eligibility and how to apply can be found in the Teacher Support section of our website.

Visit the PhET Interactive Simulations website to find out more about the resources available.

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