Reviews of simulations, games and virtual labs for STEM education. Each “micro-review” below provides a link to the resource and to the organization that created each resource, a thumbnail image to provide a “flavor” of each item, a mention of the creators or owners (to help you assess credibility and longevity), and the cost (if any).

BBC Climate Challenge

BBC Climate Challenge

In the Climate Challenge role-playing policy game, you are the leader of the European Union. Select policies to reduce carbon emissions while retaining enough popularity to remain in office.
Bio Inc. - Biomedical Plague game

Bio Inc. – Biomedical Plague

Bio Inc. is a simulation game in which players assume the role of a disease that is trying to kill a patient. Select diseases, risk factors, and factors that inhibit recovery to make your victim as ill as possible. The Windows PC version also allows you to role-play the doctor that tries to save the patient.
CIMSS & WeatherWise apps - Precipitation Type

CIMSS & WeatherWise Weather & Climate Apps

This large collection of web apps covers a broad range of topics in weather, climate, and the atmospheric sciences. A visual menu on the CIMSS site and a topic outline on the WeatherWise site both link to an overlapping set of interactives created by faculty at the University of Wisconsin.
Climate Change Mitigation Simulator

Climate Change Mitigation Simulator

Choose your priorities and select mitigation strategies to meet your goals with this simple climate change mitigation simulator.
Climate Interactive Logo

Climate Interactive

Climate Interactive has created several simulations and role-playing games related to climate science and policy. Their simulation models include: En-ROADS (energy policy), C-ROADS (international policy), and ALPS (Agriculture and Land Policy Simulator). Their role-playing simulation games include: Climate Action Simulation, World Climate Simulation, and Agritopia (agricultural policy).
  • Creator: Climate Interactive (an independent, not-for-profit think-tank that grew out of MIT Sloan in Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  • Cost: free

EdGCM educational climate model


EdGCM is a research-grade Global Climate Model (GCM) with a user-friendly interface that is suitable for use by students and can be run on a personal computer.
Extreme Event Role-playing Simulation

Extreme Event Role-Playing Simulation

Role-playing simulation for groups in which players assume roles as city leaders to prepare for and react to a natural disaster. Two scenarios: coastal city struck by hurricane or inland city with river flooding. Low-tech and high-tech (using laptops or tablets) variants available; also uses cards.
Game Doctor logo

Game Doctor

Game Doctor is a Scottish-based studio focused on developing games and interactive technology for science and health education. Their games include Killer Fungus: Evolution (for iOS, Android, and Mac & Windows computers), Bacteria Combat (for iOS and Android), and Fungal Invaders (for iOS and Mac & Windows computers).
ExploreLearning Gizmos: Pond Ecosystem image

Gizmos by ExploreLearning

ExploreLearning has created hundreds of simulations for math and science, primarily for students in grades 3-12 (also some college-level). Science simulations cover a range of subjects, with the largest collections in physics.
Infection - Bio War game for mobile devices

Infection Bio War

Players become the disease in Infection – Bio War as they try to wipe out the world’s population before a cure is found. This app for iOS mobile devices (iPads and iPhones) allows players to choose traits for their disease, helping it to spread.
KCVS Climate Solutions

KCVS Climate Solutions

In the Climate Solutions simulation you make choices that determine humanity’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the 21st century. Select options for electricity production and use, transportation, land use, buildings, and materials. Try to reduce GHG emissions by eliminating “wedges” from the emissions graph.
Monash Simple Climate Model

Monash Simple Climate Model

A full climate model, simplified for educational use. Includes numerous example scenarios and challenge exercises for students; some involve depictions of alien worlds from science fiction movies and books!
NOAA Games - Planet Arcade - Whale Migration

NOAA Games “Planet Arcade”

This collection features several games and puzzles from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Most of the resources are related to water, the oceans, and aquatic environments.
NOAA SEA games - Aquatic Food Chain


The games section of NOAA’s Sea, Earth, Atmosphere (SEA) web site includes several interactives and simple games about the ocean and aquatic habitats.
Pandemic Board Game

Pandemic Board Game

Pandemic is a cooperative board game for 2-4 players. Each player assumes the role of one of seven specialists who work together to try to halt the spread of a global pandemic. Several expansions and spinoffs have been developed since the publication of the original game in 2008.
PhET Glacier simulation


PhET hosts a collection of dozens of interactive simulations. Originally focused on physics education, PhET now includes sims for chemistry, math, Earth science and biology as well.
Plague Inc. Disease Traits

Plague, Inc. – Ndemic

In Plague, Inc. the player takes on the role of a disease and attempts to infect and wipe out the entire population of the world before humans can develop a cure.
MedMyst - Rice Web Adventures

Rice Web Adventures – Health & Medicine

Games in the Web Adventures series enable players to explore medical and health topics, including microbiology, body systems, neuroscience, and forensic science. Web Adventures include: MedMyst (infectious diseases), CSI: The Experience (forensic science), Reconstructors (substance abuse & neuroscience), Virtual Clinical Trials (medical research), and Neuropolis Squad (alcohol & body systems).
SciJinks Hurricane Hero game - screenshot

SciJinks Weather Games

The games section of the SciJinks web site features games, simulations, and other multimedia about weather, satellite meteorology, and Earth science. The site is developed by the NASA Space Place team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS).
Solve the Outbreak - CDC

Solve the Outbreak – CDC

Become a CDC Disease Detective in Solve the Outbreak and try to save lives as you solve clues and stop outbreaks of disease. Level 1 has twelve outbreak scenarios, while level 2 has eight more.