modeling 2012
Shodor > SUCCEED > Workshops > Archive > modeling 2012

At the start of the Modeling Your World 2012 workshop, Alexandra had the students participate in a game to learn everybody's names. After they went over the meanings of the "right answer = wrong answer + corrections" formula with Rachel (for example, when writing an essay, you would take a draft, which may be incorrect, and add corrections, giving you a final, correct essay.) The students also did an observation in which they first looked at the number of straws in a box, according to the information given on the box. They actually recorded the length and number of the straws. In doing this, they discovered that the box, or information presented, is not always right. After the straw activity, Alexandra helped the class realize there are multiple ways of counting the straws, which means that there are also multiple ways to make a model of something and of approaching their problems. This concept also teaches that some ways are more efficient ways of modeling something than others. They observed this by doing the math problem 3+2*6, which shows that if you do a problem differently, than you might get different answers. For example, some students got 30, while some got 15, since some students simply did the problem from left to right, while others used PEMDAS, which is a common math convention. From this, they learned that we should use a common convention, such as PEMDAS, so that everyone gets a common answer. This convention helps to guide individuals through a similar process, guaranteeing a conventionally correct answer. The students then did an experiment using Google, in which they searched the same math problem that they did previously. Google gave them the answer of 15, which is the answer that is given using the order of operations. They also found that if you wrote the question a different way, it still gives you the same answer. The students then searched for the mass of Pluto. Google returned an answer, but with an assumed context. Alexandra asked the group, "What if we wanted the mass of Pluto the dog, not the dwarf planet?" If they don't specify, then they get the most common answer. This shows that even though Pluto the dwarf planet and Pluto the dog have the same name, they are two different things, therefore requiring two different questions. This is also true for the world of modeling, where if you don't specify what you mean, the computer may assume something else and give the user an incorrect result.

After the break, the students, led by Rob, did an experiment using pennies, where heads equals "loves me" and tails equals "loves me not". They used the Shodor Interactive model called "Racing Game with One Die" to model this on the computer. They talked about how the die uses probability and how it changes the outcome of an experiment. They also used Microsoft Excel to model the scenario by creating their own formulas. They wrote if/then statements to achieve the desired results. For example, "If this random number is less than 0.5, she loves me not" and "If this random number is higher than 0.5, she loves me."