University of Sheffield engineers make virtual science experiment website free for schools to use during coronavirus pandemic

  • FlashyScience website allows GCSE and A-Level physics students to complete virtual experiments
  • The website was developed by academics from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering to match the practical requirements for physics students
  • The website is usually a paid-for resource but it will now be free for all UK schools to access until August so students can continue their learning and practical education during the coronavirus pandemic

A screenshot of the Flashy Science website showing a Geiger counter

A website created by engineers at the University of Sheffield has been made available to schools as a free resource for GCSE and A-Level physics students, allowing them to do virtual experiments and continue their learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

FlashyScience can be used by students who are learning at home while schools across the UK are closed to most pupils.

Each experiment includes not only the relevant physics, but also phenomena seen in real experiments, such as measurement uncertainty. This means students not only have to take and record data, but make judgements, analyse and interpret data, just like with a real experiment.

The resource allows students to still gain the learning outcomes and practice they need. Each experiment comes with quick guides and full instructions, background information about the science, supporting materials and video guides.

A screenshot of the Flashy Science homepage showing photos of various experiments

Dr Julian Dean, co-founder of the website from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “We are continuing to develop new virtual experiments to match the required practicals, working hard to add more in the coming weeks, including a few chemistry based ones too.”

The resource is available through simple web browsers on computers and can be accessed from home or in school for those pupils who are children of key workers.

Professor Dan Allwood, co-founder also from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, added: “In this unprecedented time with schools closing, we made the decision to make this resource free for all UK schools until August. We hope it can help students to continue their practical work ahead of starting their A-Levels or going on to University.”

Scott Jones, a physics tutor in Sheffield, said "We are using FlashyScience virtual experiments as we cannot go into the lab. It is a real godsend."

A secondary school physics teacher said of the website: “The software is user friendly, intuitive and it looks good on the screen, with graphics that resemble real laboratory equipment. The inclusion of full instructions, worksheets and Excel spreadsheets is also invaluable.”

The website is available to the whole of the UK, with schools in Sheffield, Hertfordshire, Islington and Loughborough already using it as a free resource for their pupils.

Any schools or teachers who would like to access all of the resources on the website should email or visit to contact the team to request a free license.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852