Dave, as I read your question, the first thing that came to my mind was the Intel Tools, especially the Seeing Reason Tool. There are many site online that give the students the opportunity to try out a possible solutions first, so that if they make a mistake, no one gets hurt. Another very popular site is the interactive coaster from learner.org
Does anyone have other good sites to share with Dave?
I am a fan of simulation websites that encourage students to take risks in a virtual environment prior to engaging in projects in the real world.
This year I conducted an inter-disciplinary project on medieval siege engines. It provided the opportunity to integrate history, physics, technology, research skills and writing skills.
Some of the websites my group utilized to simulate the use of siege engines before constructing them included:
- Virtual Trebuchet http://www.virtualtrebuchet.com/Trebuchet.aspx
- Treb Challenge http://www.globalspec.com/trebuchet/
After research and simulation activities, the students built and utilized their own seige engines.
The use of these types of sites promoted critical thinking and an appreciation of the technological achievements of ancient civilizations.
The project was a home run.