Simulated Experiments vs. Hands-on Experiments

• Recent Controversy around the Role of Virtual Experiments in High School Science

On October 20, 2006, The New York Times published an article describing controversy among educators about the role that online experiments should play in high school science. "Virtual" experiments have been around for a while, but this article is about the role that real and simulated laboratory experiments should play when students take a science course online. University scientists are concerned that some students taking advanced placement courses online that rely too heavily on simulated laboratory experiences, but schools offering these courses point to their students' success on the AP tests as proof of the effectiveness of their curriculum. The original article can be found at:

[[ No Test Tubes? Debate on Virtual Science Classes]]

Letters to the editor responding to the article can be found here:

[[ Responses to NYT Article]]

• Examples of Virtual Science Experiments and Simulations

There are many online resources that offer virtual experiments. Students can explore Electric Circuits in physics.

• Should simulations replace hands-on?

Whether simulations such as the ones described on our resource pages should replace students building circuits is doubtful. In a letter to the New York Times editor, Gerald Wheeler, president of NSTA, states that virtual experiences should augment but not replace laboratory exercises.