As many science teachers can attest to, it's not always easy to teach a complex concept in a way that makes sense to all students. That's where simulations can lend a hand, especially those that allow students to explore and have fun. We spoke to Jolene Pappas, biology teacher and creator of Biology Simulations, to learn what inspired her to start creating science simulations for the classroom.
Biology Simulations aims to help students learn biological concepts as well as practice data analysis and experimental design. The simulations all produce quantitative data and have random components, so there is variation in results each time the simulation is run.
Biology Simulations is NOT trying to replace hands-on labs. Rather, many of the simulations focus on concepts that are difficult to test in a school lab setting due to complexity, time, or resource constraints. Other content is intended to supplement hands-on experiences or act as a study tool.
A critical component of science education is developing an understanding that science is a process, not simply a collection of facts. An appreciation for how scientific knowledge is developed and evaluated is an important aspect of everyone’s education, not just those who go on to science-driven careers. With Biology Simulations, I try to balance materials and tools that help students learn specific biology content knowledge with general science skills.
It’s tempting to pick a “big name” here, but over time, I’ve become more inspired by the average modern scientist. They’re in labs, in hospitals, out in the field, asking big and little questions about how things work. Also, most scientists are working collaboratively, so any given discovery involves quite a bit of teamwork.
I remember various science activities (dissections, growing plants, etc.), but I can’t really remember the first true experiment. I do remember doing experiments for my AP Biology class in high school, and those experiences played a pivotal role in my decision to go on to study biology in college.
My main motivation is my students! I primarily design content with my own classroom and lesson planning in mind. I am also motivated by all the other biology teachers and students who are using the site. Knowing that people are using the content inspires me to keep working on new content and improving what’s already there.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re a precipitate.
Explore more content from Biology Simulations on their collaborator page!