Experiments on the screen: how virtual laboratories for schoolchildren are arranged

January 11
Education

Virtual laboratories of the Moscow Electronic School (MES) allow to create the puzzle, conduct experiments in thermodynamics, study Python or Pascal and so on. Online simulators of experiments help schoolchildren to study the properties of various things and phenomena, to create their own objects. And with their help, schoolchildren can conduct experiments that are impossible to perform in real laboratory. Now you will know how the virtual laboratories "MES" are arranged, and find out how they are useful for students and teachers.

What is a virtual laboratory

Basically, a virtual laboratory is an environment that, on the screen of tablet, smartphone, computer or classroom interactive panel, simulates the instruments of training laboratory. Here you can assemble electrical circuits, build drawings or graphs, take measurements, and so on. Now the MES library has 23 virtual laboratories in five courses: physics, biology, mathematics, computer science and technology.

The laboratories can be used by both teachers and school students. Teachers use them in the classroom and create their own interactive tasks with their help. And children can do online experiments not only at school, but also at home. Thus, it is easier for schoolchildren to study the course and reinforce the skills.

Ohm's law and magnetic fields

In virtual physics laboratories, you can conduct experiments in electrodynamics, optics, mechanics and other sections. Thus, using the virtual instrumentation of the Optical laboratory, which includes a collection of light sources, obstacles, optical elements and meters, it is possible to carry out classical experiments to measure the wavelength of light, study the laws of geometric optics, and determine the optical properties of lenses and mirrors. Mechanical laboratory opens up opportunities for experiments in statics and hydrostatics, kinematics, dynamics and energy conservation laws.

In the Electrodynamics laboratory, users received a "black box" at their disposal. With its help, you can create fascinating riddle problems to determine the instruments involved in the experiment, their elements and characteristics of any difficulty level, including the “black box” to hides them from spectators. And there is also an opportunity to turn the laboratory into a place for virtual competitions and entire tournaments.

Yulia Kazakova

“For example, children learn Ohm's law — how the current strength depends on the voltage. They have all the tools they need on the side panel. They use the mouse to drag and drop resistor, ammeter, voltmeter, current source to the workspace, and connect all this according to a circuit with wires; they put a battery and take measurements. One can replace the resistor with a higher or lower rating. Children can see how the current depends from the voltage with different resistors and compare them,” Yulia Kazakova, a physics teacher of Bauman Engineering School No. 1580, explains.

Quite recently, a virtual laboratory “Electromagnetic field. Faraday" was included in the physic course. Here one can study electric and magnetic fields as well as electromagnetic phenomena. It is possible to select the desired parameters and properties of objects, save the experiment at any stage, and then continue it.

The advantage of virtual labs is that they do not limit the possibilities of teachers and students to conduct experiments. For example, during real laboratory tests, children use supply source maximum 4.5 volts due to HSE limitations. In a virtual environment, there are no such limitations and one can simulate any parameters.

“It would be interesting to develop these things in the direction of research work for children who study physics in depth. That is, to create experiments that cannot be carried out in real conditions or that are not included in the school curriculum. These are great opportunities! For example, it would be interesting for children to repeat the experience of Galileo Galilei — who dropped the balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, studied the uniformly accelerated motion of bodies using an inclined plane. Or to recreate the Ampere experience — to study the interaction of conductors with current and measure the Ampere force. In real life, this is a difficult experience to repeat,” Yulia Kazakova says.

At the same time, the teacher notes, virtual labs are good as a supplement to real ones, not a replacement. Virtual work, no matter how good it is, will not replace work with real devices, phenomena and objects.

“Some things that are impossible or very difficult to recreate in real life can and should be created in a virtual environment. After all, you can do anything there — up to modeling the hadron collider, create extreme temperatures, magnetic and electric fields. Children can study the effect of the Lorentz force on moving charged particles in a cathode ray tube,” the teacher says.

Puzzles and robots

Rinat Zakirov, a physics teacher of school No. 1466, uses the virtual laboratories not only in physics, but also in technology. In particular, with the section "Logitarium", which is intended to the study of complex mechanisms and principles of interaction between objects. And also "Logitarium" can serve as an excellent platform for intellectual competitions.

Rinat Zakirov

“I used the Logitarium virtual laboratory when our students took part in the Technoboy tournament. The children and I studied this virtual laboratory to compose puzzles based on Goldberg machines. The Logitarium allows children to develop technical thinking, to show the operation of mechanisms such as gear wheels, rack and pinion gears and many others. New mechanisms are periodically added to the laboratory,” the teacher says.

The lab helps children develop their intelligence, implement original ideas when creating Goldberg machines — a mechanism where each action is an impetus to the next action — and technical puzzles based on them. And for teachers of technology, physics and computer science, the laboratory allows to create interactive models to demonstrate industrial and mechanical devices.

“Children really like this lab, they like to make mechanisms, invent their own puzzles. There is such an option — to save the puzzle and let classmates solve it, says Rinat Zakirov. — I tried to show the Logitarium to primary school students — they are interested, but such things are complicated for them. But starting from the seventh grade, children are already quite capable of creating complex models on their own. High school students also show interest in the mechanism (within the framework of the “Individual project” course). The students and I are working on creating interactive models."

In addition to the Logitarium, the Technology block contains virtual laboratories dedicated to the construction of logic circuits (for schoolchildren studying modern electronic equipment and circuitry) and the use of microcontrollers. There is also a laboratory "Robot modeling", which allows to master the basics of robotics, design and program mobile, industrial or service robot.

Five programming languages and nearly 300 tests

Since this school year, a virtual computer science laboratory was opened for 7–11 grades students. This is a huge base for deepening knowledge and preparing for exams and olympiads: the laboratory includes 290 ready-made tests, more than nine thousand tasks and over 250 programming courses.

The laboratory covers topics such as information technology, mathematical foundation of computer science, programming fundamentals, basic and advanced algorithms.

Igor Linkov

“There are tasks of various levels — from basic to advanced. It all starts with the basics. There are five programming languages: C#, C++, Python, Pascal, Java. Accordingly, the student chooses one of them, and he receives the assignments, starting with the simplest ones. There are small training videos, descriptions for assignments, and the student completes them: writes some code on his own or changes an already prepared code and sends it for test. The program tests the code and displays the result, how correctly it completed the assignment,” Igor Linkov, computer science teacher of school No. 1539, explains.

Students complete the tasks of the virtual laboratory both in the classroom, together with the teacher, and independently at home. It is important that if a student missed a lesson, he/she can, thanks to the laboratory, master the missed material.

In the near future, teachers will have the opportunity to attach laboratory materials to digital homework assignments in an electronic log. Students see them in the "Homework" section of the electronic school progress report and follow the link to complete them. Another useful option for students is the possibility to display the statistics of their progress: time spent on completing the task, correct and incorrect answers, the percentage of correctly completed tasks.

“In general, virtual laboratories are a very good thing, we lacked such a resource. It is important that they continue to evolve. As for my course, computer science, I would like to see a simulation laboratory in the future. This is the creation of 3D models in specialized programs and the possibility to print these models on a 3D printer,” Igor Linkov adds.

Source: mos.ru

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