1 Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (BRAZIL)
2 Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio Grande do Sul (BRAZIL)
3 Colégio Militar de Porto Alegre (BRAZIL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 6-13
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1002
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Through a virtual world (VW), it is possible to provide three-dimensional environments that allow the representation and simulation of spaces and phenomena occurring in the real world, on a macroscopic or microscopic scale, in an interactive context. When developed in an educational context, a virtual world can broaden the space for interaction, communication, and experimentation by providing to the students - users of the virtual world - with the expansion of learning opportunities in time and space that can be established by the student. With these characteristics, a VW is a potential virtual laboratory of educational experiences.

Virtual worlds can support the teaching and learning of natural sciences (such as chemistry, biology and physics) by simulating various phenomena that occur on a microscopic scale and are usually difficult for students to understand. They can also support teaching and learning through the representation of processes and experiments that occur in the macroscopic dimension, but which can be risky in execution, costly, difficult to observe, among other simulation possibilities. In this context, this paper aims to present a VW created in the OpenSim environment, where virtual labs were built for the learning of Natural Sciences, of elementary school students.

Three virtual laboratories were created, one in each region in the OpenSim VW. In these laboratories, different subjects related to the study of the Sciences of Nature were contemplated. In "Laboratory 1" the topics covered are "constitution of matter: atoms and molecules"; "Physical and chemical phenomena"; and, "energy sources". In "Laboratory 2" the themes are "Soil: importance, components, formation, types, and erosion"; "Soil and health: pollution and diseases"; "Water: importance, composition, properties, Physical States, and Water Cycle". In "Laboratory 3" the topics covered are "Purification and Treatment of Water and Sewage"; "Water and health: pollution and diseases"; "Ecology: Levels of Study"; " Food chains and food webs"; "Ecological Relations"; "Balance and Imbalance".

In each of the three laboratories, there are simulations and multimedia resources available for interaction (videos, texts, presentations, images, questions, and links) that complement the activities developed in the classroom. The contents selected and addressed in the three laboratories of the virtual world make up the annual curriculum of Natural Sciences of the sixth year of elementary school in a Brazilian public school.

Students of this series used the VW and the evaluation was carried out through usability evaluation questionnaires, through which it was possible to know the acceptance and contribution of the VW to the learning of the Natural Sciences. The presentation and description of the virtual world and its three laboratories will be done in the final article.
Virtual world, virtual laboratory, teaching and learning of natural sciences.