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Online Educational Resources: LibreTexts Bookshelves and PhET Simulations

Updated: May 7

In this digital age, it has become increasingly obvious that online learning is the future. But what resources can you trust to provide quality, trustworthy educational material? You may have navigated countless websites, each claiming to provide the best insights and information. When the stakes are your academic success, you need to be sure that you’re being given the best information. Enter LibreTexts and PhET Simulations – two online platforms revolutionizing the way students access educational content. LibreTexts provides free online textbooks and educational materials covering a plethora of subjects, while PhET offers interactive game-like STEM simulations that bring these textbook concepts to life. Students can access both of these trustworthy sites at zero cost to enhance their learning experience.


LibreTexts Bookshelves


What are the LibreTexts? 

LibreTexts is a free online library of educational materials and open textbooks, providing free access to full courses, textbooks, homework sets, videos, simulations, and other educational content across many subjects like math, science, business, humanities, and more. Created in 2008 by Professor Delmar Larsen at the University of California, Davis, it has grown into one of the largest open education resources on the internet. The aim of this project is to offset the cost of educational materials and increase accessibility regardless of a student's socioeconomic background.


LibreTexts offers a vast collection of peer-reviewed and openly licensed materials that anyone can access and use for free. From textbooks to homework sets, videos to simulations, LibreTexts is an invaluable resource for students seeking high-quality educational content without the financial burden of costly textbooks.


How can I take advantage of LibreTexts free textbooks as a high school student?

This resource is accessible from desktop or mobile device, and no login or account creation is required, allowing users to start exploring the materials immediately. Some textbook video material requires access to YouTube.


Each of the courses listed on this page align with CK-12 Foundational Curriculum by the Board of Education, providing a comprehensive overview of all essential learning topics. Having trouble finding your course in this digital bookshelf? Use the search feature at the top of the page to navigate.


Once you open a textbook chapter, there are countless resources available. Each chapter begins with a summary of learning topics, then provides deeper insight to the topic, where key terms are highlighted in bold lettering. Some chapters include figures, video links, or simulations embedded in the text. At the end of each chapter, there are review questions that will help gauge your understanding of the material.


PhET Simulations


What are PhET learning objects and simulations?

The PhET (Physics Education Technology) project was started back in 2002 by a physics Nobel Prize winner named Carl Wieman when he was a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. Wieman thought computer animations and virtual labs could help students understand complex scientific concepts instead of simply memorizing facts. With funding from organizations like the National Science Foundation, Wieman and his team began creating the first PhET physics simulations. These tools have since expanded into other subjects like chemistry, biology, and math. To share these resources globally, volunteers from around the world helped translate the simulations into over 90 different languages. Today, the PhET project is continuously improving to make digital education resources available to all students for free.


PhET provides hundreds of simulations that allow you to explore topics like physics, chemistry, biology, and math through animated visuals and hands-on experimentation. Don't just read about electricity and magnetism - build a virtual circuit and see the current flow in real-time! Want to learn how to balance chemical equations? Play around with the molecule building simulations. PhET's interactive approach makes it easier to grasp abstract ideas. The simulations are fun to use, visually engaging, and make quality STEM education easily accessible, no matter where you're located.


How can I take advantage of PhET as a high school student?

Although PhET resources are accessible on both desktop or mobile device, many simulations require HTML5 compatibility, which is standard for iPads, Chromebooks, PC, Mac, and Linux systems.


These STEM simulations are sorted here based on course classification. Having trouble finding your course or topic of interest in this digital bookshelf? Use the search feature at the top of the page to navigate.


Once you select a simulation, you will navigate to an ‘About’ page that includes the following information: the simulation itself, course topics that the simulation covers, sample learning goals, and options for inclusive accessibility features. Navigate to the ‘Translations’ tab for additional language options. To begin the simulation, click on the play button at the top of the page.


Summary


Reliable educational resources are indispensable. LibreTexts and PhET Simulations stand out as pillars of credibility and accessibility in the online learning landscape. LibreTexts, founded by Professor Delmar Larsen, offers a vast collection of free, peer-reviewed textbooks and materials across diverse subjects, providing students with comprehensive learning experiences without the financial burden. Meanwhile, PhET Simulations, spearheaded by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, revolutionizes STEM education through interactive, hands-on simulations that make complex concepts tangible and engaging. With both platforms accessible on various devices and equipped with inclusive features, any student can explore and learn at their own pace. Whether you're a budding biologist, aspiring physicist, or math enthusiast, you can harness the power of LibreTexts and PhET Simulations to build your confidence.



Resources

  1. Lieberman, M. (2018). Single project earns federal OER pilot grant. Inside Higher Ed.

  2. NSF Award Search: Award # 1525057 - Collaborative Research: Developing and Assessing Effective Cyberlearning within the STEMWiki Hyperlibrary. National Science Foundation. https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1525057

  3. Curriculum Materials License | CK-12 Foundation. (n.d.). Www.ck12info.org. https://www.ck12info.org/curriculum-materials-license/

  4. LibreTexts - Free The Textbook. (2018). Libretexts.org. https://libretexts.org/

  5. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

  6. Wieman, C. E., Perkins, K. K., & Adams, W. K. (2008). Oersted Medal Lecture 2007: Interactive simulations for teaching physics: What works, what doesn’t, and why. American Journal of Physics, 76(4), 393-399.

  7. NSF Award Search: Award # 0817582 - Physics and Chemistry Education Technology Project. (2008). Www.nsf.gov. https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=0817582

  8. PhET Interactive Simulations. (n.d.). PhET. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/help-center/running-sims

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