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Often mistakenly seen as a game, the online 3D immersive virtual world
Second Life (SL) is itself a huge and sophisticated simulator of an
entire Earthlike world. Differently from other metaverses where
physical laws are not seriously taken into account, objects created in
SL are automatically controlled by a powerful physics engine software.
Despite that, it has been used mostly as a mere place for exploration
and inquiry, with emphasis on group interaction. This article reports a
study conducted to evaluate the SL environment as a platform for
physical simulations and microworlds. It begins by discussing a few
relevant features of SL and a few differences found between it and
traditional simulators e.g. Modellus. Finally, the SL environment as a
platform for physical simulations and microworlds is evaluated. Some
concrete examples of simulations in SL, including two of our own
authorship, will be presented briefly in order to clarify and enrich
both discussion and analysis. However, implementation of simulations in
SL is not without drawbacks like the lack of experience many teachers
have with programming and the differences found between SL Physics and
Newtonian Physics. Despite of that, findings suggest it may possible
for teachers to overcome these obstacles.
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