Learn by Doing: Web Simulations for Inquiry-based Science Education
Robert A. Desharnais, CSU Los Angeles

There is wide acceptance that inquiry-based curriculum programs have positive effects on cognitive achievement, process skills, and attitudes towards science. Science instructors seek engaging, effective, and inquiry-based activities that are convenient to implement in their classrooms. While the Web provides a vast resource of declarative information (some of it multimedia), there is a dearth of web-based resources for inquiry-based education. The Virtual Courseware Project at CSU Los Angeles fulfills this need with interactive, web-based simulation activities that emphasize the scientific method for both life and earth science topics. Two examples will be demonstrated: Drosophila, a web-based .genetics lab. where students can explore the principles of genetic inheritance by designing experiments where fruit-flies carrying visible mutations are mated and the patterns of transmission of the traits to the offspring are observed, and Earthquake, and interactive simulation where students discover principles of seismology by determining the epicenter location and Richter magnitude of earthquakes. The built-in assessment tools available in these applications will also be discussed.

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