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The Future of PhET

August 15, 2013

The PhET Interactive Simulations project at University of Colorado Boulder has developed a vision for next-generation PhET sims. This vision leverages new technologies to extend access to PhET simulations across platforms, to increase customization options, to enhance data sharing capabilities, and to support integration with diverse educational products.

Today, we are excited and proud to announce the first-steps towards realizing our vision for next-generation PhET sims. Over the past year, our software development team pushed the boundaries of HTML5 to enable our new sims to run in any modern web browser, including on tablets such as the iPad.

Optimized for today's educational platforms

Since we primarily support students and teachers in educational environments, we have optimized our next-generation sims for the most common platforms. Our new sim designs work well with either mouse or touch interactions, and sim performance is optimized for the following systems:

*Note, although our HTML5 sims run well on many Android tablets and are tested on common devices, they have not been optimized for this platform. Performance on Android devices has been found to be device specific.

On the horizon and beyond

We are actively working towards and raising funds to realize our full vision for next-generation PhET simulations. In the next phase of development, we aim to allow easy web-based translation of our HTML5 sims, as well as allowing offline access to these sims.

However, our future goals go well beyond design and technology updates. In addition to adding new sims, our plans for the future include:

Recommendations for Use on Tablets

Landscape Orientation: Our sims have been optimized for an aspect ratio that is best suited to a landscape orientation when using a tablet.

Slightly Tilted: User visibility of the dynamic feedback within sims is important for learning. We suggest that users do not use sims with a tablet laid flat on a table, as this scenario tends to lead users to obscure much of the screen with their hand. We highly recommend using a tablet with a slight tilt, either held in the hand, or with some sort of stand.

Open Educational Resource

As always, our sims continue to be provided under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Open Source

Our work in HTML5 has involved a tremendous coding effort, especially creating new software tools to conquer the challenges unique to creating applications as rich, interactive, and dynamic as PhET sims in a browser.

PhET's libraries are available under the MIT license, and our sim-specific code is available under the GPLv3. You can view the source code for our sims and related libraries on Github at:

Thanks for your support

New HTML5 sims will be released regularly, so please stay up to date through our website, newsletter, or social media channels.

We hope you enjoy exploring the new features of our next-generation sims. Thank you for being a part of the PhET community!

The PhET Team

The PhET Team