Explore Virtual labs in Physics From:

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PhET™ Labs

The following screenshots represent selected simulations in Physics from the PhET labs.  They are freely available from the PhET website and are easy to use and incorporate into the classroom. They are written in Java and Flash, and can be run using a standard web browser as long as Flash and Java are installed. 

Online Activity Labs: Topics:
Alpha Decay
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Watch alpha particles escape from a polonium nucleus, causing radioactive alpha decay. See how random decay times relate to the half life.

Details and get access to Alpha Decay

Check out Alpha Decay
Bending Light
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Explore bending of light between two media with different indices of refraction. See how changing from air to water to glass changes the bending angle. Play with prisms of different shapes and make rainbows.

Details and get access to Bending Light

Check out Bending Light
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Why do objects like wood float in water? Does it depend on size? Create a custom object to explore the effects of mass and volume on density. Can you discover the relationship? Use the scale to measure the mass of an object, then hold the object under water to measure its volume. Can you identify all the mystery objects?

Details and get access to Density

Check out Density
Forces and Motion
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Explore the forces at work when you try to push a filing cabinet. Create an applied force and see the resulting friction force and total force acting on the cabinet. Charts show the forces, position, velocity, and acceleration vs. time. View a Free Body Diagram of all the forces (including gravitational and normal forces).

Details and get access to Forces and Motion

Check out Forces and Motion
Nuclear Fission
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Start a chain reaction, or introduce non-radioactive isotopes to prevent one. Control energy production in a nuclear reactor! (Previously part of the Nuclear Physics simulation - now there are separate Alpha Decay and Nuclear Fission sims.)

Details and get access to Nuclear Fission

Check out Nuclear Fission
Ohm's Law
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See how the equation form of Ohm's law relates to a simple circuit. Adjust the voltage and resistance, and see the current change according to Ohm's law. The sizes of the symbols in the equation change to match the circuit diagram.

Details and get access to Ohm's Law

Check out Ohm's Law


Smart Science® Labs

Below, you will find a small selection from the Smart Science library of nearly 200 online science labs. View 17 labs designed for CSU general education physics courses. Use any of these labs free in your courses as part of the CSU system-wide virtual lab initiative.

Smart Science real online science labs provide instructors and students with uniquely hands-on real lab experiments instead of simulations. Students collect data interactively from real experiments point-by-point using their own care and judgment just as in traditional labs. They predict or hypothesize before or during the experimental activity.

The Smart Science approach ensures that students understand the nature of science, learn scientific thinking skills, and come to appreciate the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work. Smart Science labs include quizzes and online lab reports showing all student lab data and more.

Smart Science labs are delivered in HTML5 for compatibility with all modern platforms.

Online Activity Labs: Topics:
Pendulums and Energy
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Real lab. Track pendulum bob at 100 ms intervals to estimate kinetic and potential energy at each point.

Details and get access to Pendulums and Energy

Check out Pendulums and Energy link opens new window
Elastic Collisions, Mass
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Real lab. Track air track gliders colliding and bouncing will little energy loss using different masses and speeds.

Details and get access to Elastic Collisions, Mass

Check out Elastic Collisions, Mass link opens new window
Mass of Falling Objects
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Real lab. Measure distance-time graphs for various objects dropped from pier.

Details and get access to Mass of Falling Objects

Check out Mass of Falling Objects link opens new window
Atwood Machine
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Real lab. Traditional Atwood experiment evaluating acceleration from varying unbalanced forces on known total masses.

Details and get access to Atwood Machine

Check out Atwood Machine link opens new window
Photoelectric Effect
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Real lab. Uses LEDs to provide light for phototube. Students follow current as applied voltage changes.

Details and get access to Photoelectric Effect

Check out Photoelectric Effect link opens new window

Please contact Smart Science at 855-4-SCIENCE (855-472-4362) or email us at to get started now.

For additional contact information and to learn more about Smart Science, see this announcement.


Physics Simulations in MERLOT sorted by sub-categories:

Website: Topics:
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ADD Free Virtual Labs You're Using or Authored Into MERLOT

Are you using free Virtual Lab materials you found on the web in your teaching or your learning? Have you posted free Virtual Labs online that are open for others to use? We invite you to catalog these Virtual Labs you use or authored in MERLOT. Your colleagues and students around the world will thank you!


First: Become a member of MERLOT (It will take about 2 minutes and it’s FREE).

Second: Log in to MERLOT and click to Submit a Material. (It will take about 4 minutes the first time and step-by-step instructions for contributing materials to MERLOT are available).

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