By Kelly Findley (Florida State University)
Simulations can be a helpful way to engage students in statistical ideas and make abstract ideas tangible, but not all simulations position students to take ownership in their learning. The Physics Education Technology (PhET) interactive simulations (sims) offers resources for teachers in physics, biology, chemistry, and most recently mathematics, and these sims are freely available at https://phet.colorado.edu/. PhET sims are designed to provide “implicit scaffolding,” meaning that students are guided by the affordances and constraints of the sim and require little to no instruction from the teacher to learn the controls or begin discovering ideas. I will be sharing two PhET sims that have been developed to teach statistical ideas. “Plinko Probability” engages students in ideas about binary probability and distributions. “Least-Squares Regression” provides a helpful environment to model best-fit lines and visualize the residual sum of squares. I will be sharing two activities our team has created in collaboration with a local middle grades teacher that link these sims with the Common Core State Standards.