Science Inquiry Using Physical and Virtual Experiments: Systematic Investigation of Issues and Conditions for Learning
With advancing and increasingly affordable computing technologies, schools are no longer limited to text and pictures on printed paper to teach science. Explaining, illustrating and doing science has moved from static text and pictures, to dynamic animations and videos, to highly interactive simulations.
Instead of watching “canned” animations, videos or simulations, students are now able to set up their own experiments in mixed-reality laboratories where physical experiments are wired with sensors to instantaneously link them to simulations, or in fully virtual laboratories where entire experiments can be designed, set up, run and analyzed in cyberspace.
Therefore, a foundational issue for educational research is: For what type of learners, under what conditions, and for what type of materials are physical experimentation, virtual experimentation, and different ways of sequencing and combining the two best suited?
In a 4-year project we will address this issue by investigating three research questions:
For whom, under what conditions, and for what type of materials is virtual experimentation (or physical experimentation) best suited?
For whom, under what conditions, and for what type of materials is virtual followed by physical experimentation (or physical followed by virtual experimentation) best suited?
For whom, under what conditions, and for what type of materials is a simultaneous combination of physical and virtual experimentation best suited?