PAP057 : Primary School Energy Comes Alive with Customized Open Source Simulation

Redesign Pedagogy Conference 2013

Date : 4th June (2nd day)

Time :10.30 a.m.

Venue : NIE7-01-TR701

Presenter : Sze Yee, Loo Kang

Simulations have always been popular among science educators. This is probably because of the huge potential of enabling learner-centred pedagogies such as inquiry learning if the simulations are well designed with engaging activities with the phenomena represented in multiple representations. However, our literature review suggests science simulations are usually designed for post-elementary students. To address the paucity on the elementary school science simulations, we customized and implemented energy simulation in this study. We modified Michael Gallis’s High School Energy Roller Coaster Simulation ( created using the Easy Java Simulations(EJS) authoring toolkit. We released our Singapore Roller Coaster Simulation ( back to the Open Source Physics, as we are strong believers of the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement. Our exploratory case study approach aims to provide useful insights on the design and use of simulations. Examples of design ideas in the modified simulation include explicit numerical and situated display of highest and lowest points, consistent colour scheme for energy relationship, additional inquiry-enabled controls for variables (like starting height). Using Mayer‘s Evidence-Based Principles for Multimedia Design (i.e., coherence, signalling and spatial contiguity), the simulation was customized to reduce the cognitive load and maximize the working memory. As for the lesson implementation, learning activities were also supported by videos (Engage), the customized simulation (Explore) and Google Forms (Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate). A total of thirty-five Primary 4 and 5 students took part in this study over two 2.5 hour sessions. The research was guided by : How did the modified simulation enhance learning about energy? Data from multiple data sources (i.e., simulation, lesson observations, students’ artifacts, survey and focus group discussion) were collected. The simulation was well received by the students (“I like the fact that we can experiment with the stimulation by ourselves.”). With teachers’ facilitation, the students could grasp the energy concepts on their own using the simulation. Most were able to articulate that the maximum kinetic energy occurs at the lowest point and for the object to have maximum kinetic energy, “starting height and velocity had to be very high”.


My Easy Java Simulation Journey

Thank to Easy Jave Toolkit , Open Source Physics Community and Prof Hwang NTNUJava Physics’ Virtual lab , I am able to modify and create Java Simulation based on Physics Laws.


The simulations are customized for use in primary school and secondary school. Feel free to download and remix.  You can use them for inquiry-based activities or allow the students to conduct experiments using the simulations. Do feel free to ICON me at if you need any modifications. I will try to see how  I can help you.

Here are the simulations I have done so far and their original authors (if applicable)

1. Roller Coaster By by Michael R. Gallis and edited by Wolfgang

Lesson Idea


2. Cooling/Heating Simulation by Wolfgang Christian

Another remixed with cooling and heating in the same graph

Lesson Idea

For teaching of Graphing Skill . 


3. Friction Simulation 

Lesson Idea


Another simplified version in which the students need to figure out which surface is most rough




4. Pendulum Model by  Wolfgang Christian

Lesson Idea


5, Spring 

For teaching of Graphing Skill . 


6. Speed Simulation 

Lesson Idea

Primary Speed Simulation

7. Ticker Tape Timer



8. Shadow

Have created a simple simulation on shadow.  This can be used to understand how the length of the shadow changes. There are 2 graphs to depict the situation. You can get the students to guess what the graph means



Teaching Graphing Skills with EJS

Hi, all.


Here are some of my little and humble ideas of teaching graphing skills:

1. Let the students predict the graph by viewing the simulation (focus on terms like dependent and independent variables)

2. Get the students to explain their prediction

3. Use the simulation to display and explain the graph.

Here are some of the customized simulations:

1. Cooling Graph

2, Roller Coaster Graph

3. Spring Graph  (The graphs are randomized and students can try to predict the dependent variable from the graph)

Primary School Speed Simulation

Dear all, I have created this speed simulation using Easy Java Simulation. It is free and you can download from  the Dropbox link. You can also put this in the LMS, too. It is licensed under Creative Common License (Free to modify and distribute but not for commercial use)

I realized that most students will have difficulty in this topic. My gut feel is that they do not have conceptual understanding of speed and simply just applying the famous DST triangle. Hopefully, through this simulation, the students can have hands-on and by “playing” with this, they will gain a deeper understanding. The students/teachers can now pause at specific timing or distance to change the speed.

Here are some suggestion on how the simulation can be used:

– To allow the students to have a strong conceptual understanding of speed.
– To illustrate speed problem.
– To illustrate the concept of average speed.
– To allow the students to conduct inquiry-based activities to deduce the the relationship between speed, time and distance
– To allow the students to conduct inquiry-based activities to deduce the the relationship between the ratio of the speed and the distance between 2 objects given the same time traveled.

You can also read up a short-write up at the Google Doc – Speed Simulation Short Write up

Comments are welcome so that I can make the simulation even better for  students.

You can email me at or comment below.

This is my latest remix with the time expressed in hour and minute. Thank to feedback from the teachers.

My Customized Simulations

Please note that the simulations are still not very refined yet as I have not gotten any feedback from the very important parties (students and teachers). Feel free to comment in the forum so that I can further improve it. Thanks to Prof Hwang for allowing me to host the simulations in NTNUJAVA Virtual Physics Laboratory Forum  .

(1) Energy Simulation

Roller Coaster Version 1
Roller Coaster Version 2 (With students’s feedback)

(2) Speed-Time Simulation

(3) Ticker Tape Timer

(4) Cooling/Heating Curve

(5) Friction 

(6) Free Fall

Secondary School
Primary School