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Digital Manipulatives that Support Conjectural Exploration

The following group of objects can be digitally manipulated and controlled by the user. This control means that the user can alter the status of the variables that affect the behavior of the object under study and this may act organically; that is to say, like a live organism which responds to the manipulation of said variables.

Some Resources for Manipulating Scientific Digital Objects

The following list does not exhaust the possibilities that exist to obtain digital manipulatives that support scientific learning centered on the student through research, experimentation and collaboration.  Nonetheless, they are a good initial collection.

NSDL—National Science Digital Library is a US electronic library created to support education and research in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.  It offers free access to electronic materials for elementary education instructors, university professors, biotechnologists, the scientific community and newcomers to the discipline.

MOLO, Molecular Logic Project is a project that searches for students who want to understand  fundamental biological phenomenon in terms of atom and molecule interaction.  Among other things, MOLO has activities on macro-molecules, intermolecular attractions, synthesis, the splitting of proteins.  MOLO has a database of activities for student and teacher use that can be accessed by distinct concepts key words or numbers.  Each activity indicates what technology is required; some are editable and all have student and teacher instructions.  MOLO was produced by the Concord Consortium.  After registering, this public domain software can be downloaded and the source code can be adapted under LGPL license.

PHYSICS.ORG is a site created by the London Institute of Physics of the United Kingdom in order to support students, families and interested educators in learning physics by means of exploration and reflection.  It has an online consultation system that pairs questions with web sites where the answers may be found. Also,  relevant web sites are included that are pre-classified by age and previous user knowledge.  Moreover, Physics.org  offers a collection of study sites  which have been used in the teaching and learning of physics concepts; it reviews a web site monthly.  This site has interactive resources that explore in a playful way the concepts of physics used in daily life and the history of the discipline. It also favors the  understanding and exploration  of natural phenomenon through technology.

TEEMS, Technology Enhanced Elementary Math and Science, is a project of the Concord Consortium of Massachusetts with financing by the National Science Foundation.  It produces learning units that use computers, sensors and interactive models for learning mathematics and science.  The digital resources can be run on multiple  desktop  and handheld computer platforms utilizing any commercially provided sensors that exemplify the nine US standards for teaching the sciences in grades 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8.  The resources have user guides for students and teachers and are free after registering on the project web site.  The software code is open and its utilization requires the user to accept a lesser general public license (LGLP).

XPLORA.  This is a European portal that supports science education.  It is free and is presented in three languages:  English, French and German.  It offers news and pedagogical ideas for science instructors.  It provides access to a data base of electronic resources for science education.  It also opens the door to projects and innovative focuses for practical teaching.  It allows registered users to create and to participate in virtual communities.

Some Resources for Digitally Manipulating Mathematical Objects

The following web sites include resources that help to enliven experiences using mathematical concepts.

MATHSNET gives access to a collection of web produced resources or those suggested by the Interactive Tools for Science and Math program for student and teacher use.  The great majority of the applications offered by this service are in Java, are free and support the learning of mathematics or science at the secondary level.

NLVM—National Library of Virtual Manipulatives—was created to support the interactive learning of mathematics and includes a collection of applications in Java (Java applets) that are utilized by Internet users; it was created by the State University of Utah.  It includes manipulatives for distinct ages and different groups of standards for teaching mathematics.  Each manipulative comes with instructions, with help for parents and lesson plans for educators, and with an explanation of the mathematics standards  that support its use.  It is possible to get copies of the CD or to use it on the web.

SEEING MATH INTERACTIVES offers a collection of digital  manipulatives (digital objects that can be manipulated and respond organically to  stimuli that they receive) for playing with secondary algebra concepts that are difficult to understand.  Each digital manipulative allows for multiple representations of mathematical knowledge (symbolic, numeric, graphic).  In order to use them one must have Java in the same version or higher than 1.3.1.  These interactives,  produced by the Concord Consortium of Massachusetts, can be installed and used freely in educational institutions or by educators who register on the web site.  Also they can be adjusted for whoever downloads the code for the LGLP open license.