LEARNING WITH DYNAMIC,
INTERACTIVE SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATIONS
Research concerning the educational value of scientific visualizations is contradictory and inconclusive leaving developers and practitioners in disagreement about whether to use visualizations and how best to exploit their apparent value. This presentation summarizes recent studies by the Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS) center that illustrate promising uses of scientific visualizations to improve science learning. TELS defines visualizations as interactive, computer-based animations of scientific phenomena including models, simulations, and virtual experiments. TELS comparison studies show how visualizations can (a) make unseen processes visible such as chemical reactions or planetary motion, (b) allow students to conduct virtual experiments about complex situations such as global climate change, airbag safety, or home insulation, and (c) help students link multiple representations such as symbolic equations, unseen interactions (e.g., atomic, gravitational), and observable phenomena. These studies suggest patterns and principles to guide designers as they incorporate visualizations into interactive science experiences.