Climate change simulations

Every month DiScoro writes about resources that can be used in schools and about inspirational issues. See Services in the Menu for workshops, training etc.

On October 4th 2016 the EU has signed the  global Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Climate change and clean energy transition are complex challenges. The simulations of Climate Interactive enable you to simulate the many factors and see the result of policies. It is quite reveling and insightfull to see how much reducation in CO2 emmissions is required to minimize the temperature change to 2 degrees Celcius.
C-Learn simulation

C-Learn, C-Roads and EN-Roads are three simulations from Climate Interactive organization, based on systems dynamics modeling from MIT.

The simulations enable teachers, lecturers and students and people in general to see connections, play out scenarios, and see what works to address the biggest challenges we face: climate change and clean energy.

The simulations enable you to set up and compare many What if scenarios. The Climate Interactive website offers tutorial videos on how to use the tools.

  • C-Learn is the simple version of C-Roads and available online
  • C-Roads is the Climate simulation which has to be downloaded
  • EN-Roards is the simulation on Energy transition and climate goals

Target group: policy makers, lecturers, university students.
C-Learn can definitely be used at higher secondary level.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPad, PC
 Requirements  browser
Note: the downloads give security warnings.


untangle-iconThe game we discuss here is (also) called Lazors, but a more suitable name could be Untangle or Network Points. This game is a typical example of a game that allows for ‘low floor – high ceiling’ activities. It is easy to start, yet very complex questions can be asked about the graphs.

Mathematical knowledge and skills that lie in the game are:

  1. spatial awareness
  2. geometry
  3. graph theory (topological characteristics of graphs).

The first task is to find out what the aim is. Don’t tell the students, but ask them to find it out and describe it. Perhaps write an instruction or guideline for a user.

After solving many levels students can think of new questions such as the ones below.



How many different solutions are there?





Is it possible to move all the triangles (and squares) to the outside so that no triangle lies within another triangle/square? When is this possible and when not?

Can you make a network that cannot be untangled in the way this game requires? If yes, how do you design such a network? What are it’s characteristics.

Can you predict whether a network can be untangled or not without trying it out. Evidence, proof!

The program GeoGebra can be used to draw the networks and discuss the reasoning and show the different options.

The game is suitable from primary school up to university level.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC, iPad, tablet
 Requirements  browser

Lazors game

lazors-iconLazors is an interesting App about principles in physics such as light beams and how they are reflected, bent, or broken by different materials. As a player you have discover for yourself what the aim is and how to reach it. There are many different levels.

Students can be asked to explain the game and about their reasoning in solving the problems. Thereby, the teacher can introduce vocabulary like: light wave, straight line, ray, beam, reflection of light, refraction of light (bending of light), breaking light, prism, angle of refraction, angle of reflection, mirror, glass, crystal.

A  pre-designed page on Smart Notebook can help to discuss the principles and reasoning.

Practical applications:

  • Stick a straw in a half filled glass of water and observe the refraction of light. This visual distortion occurs at the water-air boundary.
  • The same phenomenon protects fish from a hunter who is spearfishing from the shore. Due to this bending of the path of light, a fish appears to be at a location where it isn’t. The hunter launches the spear at the location where the fish is thought to be, but isn’t, and misses the fish.
  • How big needs a mirror be for you to be able to see yourself from top to toe (while standing)?

The game can be used from age 10 onwards.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPad, iPhone, (PC)
 Requirements  IOS, Android/Google Play

Concept Cartoons-2

Every month DiScoro writes about (digital) resources that can be used in schools. In addition you will find issues that may inspire you. See Services for workshops, training etc.

The blogpost Concept Cartoons is so popular that we decided to write a second blogpost on the subject. The advantage of using Concept Cartoons in class is that it does not require material and a great deal of organisation that comes along with practical, hands-on experiments in class. However, hands-on practicals can be part of it, and remain a valuable and essential part of science education.

Two examples of concept cartoons. If you design your own concept cartoons it is recommended to leave one character with an empty speech balloon.




For more information see the official Concept Cartoons website.



If you design your own concept cartoons it is recommended to leave one character with an empty speech balloon. Try out the following cartoon. We have started the first question already.
An effervescent tablet has been dropped in (warm) water.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Solubility in water

Water is the most important chemical substance on earth. Water has specific chemical characteristics unlike other substances. One of these characteristics is its solubility.

Students build an understanding of solution concentration by varying amounts of solute,
solvent, and solution. Students can investigate which substance can have the largest concentration (solves best) even if they do not know  the substance. This can be an introduction to a hands-on practical.

The students can observe the amount of mol/L (molecules that can be solved in one litre) and find out what saturated means? What can be observed when the solvent is saturated?


 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser

Oplossen glazenDownload practical experiment on Solubility in water for primary school level.


bruistablet2Download practical on Solubility with the use of effervescent tablets.

Depending on how used the pupils are to carry out experiments, you can leave out some of the instructions (scaffolding). Purely inquiry-based would be:

  • Find out how you can influence the degree of solubility in water using the effervescent tablets and water.

Whereby the pupils have to set up the experiment themselves, record the results, and write a conclusion.


See the blogpost Density and Buoyancy for buoyancy in water.

The Moving Man

The applet The Moving Man enables students to experiment and learn about motion, position, velocity and acceleration. The movements of the man are plotted in charts.

  • Move the little man back and forth with the mouse and plot his motion.
  • Set the position, velocity, and/or acceleration and let the simulation move the man for you.

Moving man 1

Learning Goals

  • Interpret, predict charts/graphs on position, velocity and acceleration.
  • Describe, make sense of and reason about the charts.

If you register at the PHET website as a teacher, you have access to the information for teachers. The website offers examples of worksheets and questions for students at different levels.

Students can make a graph that fits a story, or make a story that fits a chart. At primary school level focus on one chart in the beginning. For example: What is the story behind this chart?

Do not underestimate the complexity of only the first chart. It shows a timeline, the position, negative numbers, and a man who covers a distance.

Moving man 2

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser, JAVA

Pattern problems

Pattern problems are a relatively new phenomenon in mathematics education. They can be used both for early algebra in primary school as well as in secondary school. At primary level students reason and come up with a description of how the figure or pattern grows using word formulas. At secondary school level, students can be encouraged to describe the formula for the nth pattern using symbols for the variables.

figure numbers

Two applets from the Freudenthal Institute make it easy to experiment with pattern problems:
Spotting number problems, if you wish to work with given patters
Spotting numbers, if you wish the students to design their own patterns

Introduce a pattern to the class and ask them to look at it first. Then ask them: How do you see the pattern grow?

For the example below we have used the applet Spotting Numbers and coloured in blue the different views students could have on how the pattern grows.

Thereafter students can explore:

  • With how many dots does the figure grow?
  • What about the 20th or 50th figure?
  • How many dots are required?
  • How many dots are on the base?
  • Can you describe a ‘rule’ for the growth?
  • Can you describe a formula for finding the nth figure?

Information on the applets: Spotting numbers and Spotting number problems.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser, JAVA