Modeling Your World 2005
Shodor > SUCCEED > Workshops > Archive > Modeling Your World 2005

At the beginning of the class, the students played an icebreaker game where they had to remember everyone's name. Then, David talked about models, and how they are applied in the real world. For example, a scientist may want to study a Boeing 247, so she/he would make a model because it's easier to study a computer model than a real Boeing 247. Then, David passed around various items. Each student had to come up with a way to model the items.

Then, the class continued the icebreaker game, with each student describing one of their favorite places and activities. David then announced that the students should line up from oldest to youngest, but without speaking! After a few minutes of chaos, the students decided to all write down their birthdays, and line up accordingly. When the class completed the line, David split them into teams and assigned each team a computer. He then showed them NetLogo. The class played with a model of ants foraging for food, and tried to learn how factors like evaporation and diffusion of their scent trails affect their behavior.

After snack, Jenna explained that computers can model several things at once. She used a rope to simulate a computer solving an equation, showing that the limit of what you can model is often the limit of your creativity. After Jenna finished, all of the students tried to replicate her rope model. Jenna used this to illustrate that computers do exactly what they're told, and you cannot assume that they will do something they are not told to do. Then, David introduced Tammy the Termite, part of another NetLogo simulation. Tammy wants to find wood chips, pick them up, and carry them to her home. He showed them a model of Tammy the Termite and her friends trying to take wood chip piles. Each wood chip pile was a different color, and each termite took from only one color pile. After analyzing the termite model, the students created a model of a forest fire. They changed various factors like the forest density. Finally, they used a traffic simulator, changing the speed limit and stoplight speed to get the most efficient traffic flow.