Job Category:

Professional Research Assistant

Pay: $30,000 – $35,000 a year

Full Job Description

The PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder has an opening for an entry-level, part- or full-time, Professional Research Assistant position as a manual quality assurance (QA) specialist with a focus on educational simulation testing.
The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

The PhET team designs and develops interactive simulations for teaching and learning science and math, creates activities that couple with the sims, and makes these resources freely available to educators and students on the web. The QA team works closely with PhET’s team of software developers to ensure that all sims behave correctly during use.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

The successful applicant will join the vibrant and productive PhET team, working closely with the QA team lead. The responsibilities will include:

  • Testing early and late stage development sims while reporting any issues found to the PhET team (experience with software programming is NOT required, but some basic experience is helpful for creating useful bug reports).
  • Supporting simulation design and development – e.g. analyzing data, being aware of team decisions that result in sim design changes, etc.
  • The PhET website when new features are added while reporting any problems to the website developers.
  • Helping to adapt and improve the testing process and procedures with the flexible nature of the project.

The ideal candidate will enjoy working with technology and will be capable of quickly and proficiently learning and working with new technologies (devices and computer programs). The ideal candidate will also have strong logical reasoning and have a proficient attention to detail. They will have a solid understanding of basic science and math concepts at the high school level, a very basic understanding of software development, and be able to learn new knowledge and skills in these areas quickly. Finally, they would have good oral and written communication skills, be able to organize large amounts of information, and draw logical conclusions from past experiences.(PhET has a strong software engineering team; there is no requirement to write any lines of code).

What You Should Know

  • Part-time or full-time candidates will be considered. Full-time is 40 hours per week, and you must be able to work at least 30 hours per week.
  • The start date is flexible, and can be as early as April 1, 2021 and as late as July 1, 2021.
  • Candidates can work remotely or relocate to Boulder. If working remotely, a high-quality and reliable internet connection is required.

What We Can Offer

This is an entry-level position, with a full-time annual salary in the range of $30,000 – $35,000, depending on experience.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be Ambitious. Be Encouraged. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • Experience and aptitude using computer games and/or educational simulations.
  • High school degree or higher required.

What You Will Need

  • Ability to quickly and proficiently work with and learn new technologies (new devices and new computer programs), and enjoy it.
  • High attention to detail.
  • Ability to reason logically, and to recognize and identify patterns.
  • Understanding and enjoyment of math and science concepts at the high school level.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent organization and teamwork skills.

What We Would Like You To Have

  • Experience working in testing or creating computer software.
  • Experience working with GitHub, Google Docs, Slack, and Zoom technologies.
  • Experience with assistive technologies such as screen reader software.
  • Understanding of science and math concepts at the introductory college level.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Application Task I and II (in one pdf)

During the application process, you will enter a minimum of three references. An official written letter of recommendation from these references will be requested by the hiring unit at the appropriate time during the search. This information will be kept confidential and viewable only by the search committee.
Information about the required application tasks can be found here (these two tasks will take roughly 2 hours to complete). Application review will begin March 1, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled.
Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs.
Due to the large volume of applicants that we receive for this type of position, we have a preliminary evaluation we’d like you to complete. The position requires the ability to determine the severity of bugs and communicate them thoroughly and clearly to others team members.
You can use any tools (word, excel, pencil/paper, etc.), but please submit the final document in pdf format.
Application Task I
(to be uploaded to job posting as ‘Application Task Document’)Please limit yourself to no more than 1 hour on this task.
Perform a test of Isotopes and Atomic Mass at the link below. This is an early development version, so look out for any bugs that may occur during interaction. Please create a bug report for at least 3 unique behavioral issues. These are issues that negatively impact the sim’s usability or lead to undesired/distracting visuals. Good bug reports allow for easy reproduction of an issue and might include any clues to the cause.
Application Task II
(please submit in the same pdf as Application Task I)
You may choose to do both parts of this task, or only one.
Each of the below screenshots were taken from a sim in a buggy state. Using only the screenshot, description, and hints provided, outline a process to reproduce the bug yourself. Test with the links provided.
Hint: Lines need two points, but the line in this image only has one. How is this possible? The line shown is directly on the y-axis.
Electrons should be evenly distributed about a circuit. How did all these electrons bunch together in one location?
Hint 1: Look carefully at all connections in the circuit (zooming in on each connection in the screenshot might help).

Hint 2: This sim allows wires to be any length.

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Boulder Campus Human Resources

Posting Contact Email:

Company – University of Colorado Boulder


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