ssp 2011
Shodor > SUCCEED > Workshops > Archive > ssp 2011

Today, Jeff talked about modeling with respect to population. He told the class that modeling should start out simple and then grow more complex over time. The students modeled population growth using a lunch tray, two cups, and MnMs. Whenever an MnM landed m side up, they would add that many to the current population. The activity was repeated three times in order to see a growth curve. They exchanged data and made it more visually appealing by reducing the amount of numbers after the decimal point. When they were done adjusting the results, the kids graphed all of their data into a line chart. A separate chart was created for the average amount of MnMs flipped m side up.

After break, they looked at the Biology model on the Shodor website. The kids used AgentSheets to open a model that was similar to their MnM activity. They clicked the time-step button in order to see what happens on the plot chart for every second while Jeff explained the basics of an AgentSheets model. There were agents, which were the depictions in the model, and they only functioned because there were rules and methods telling them what to do. The students discussed all of the various rules and methods that were telling the MnMs what to do.

During lunch, Jeff put all of the data into a single graph. Afterwards, they downloaded the Population MnM Model and viewed it in Vensim, a program used to develop and analyze dynamic system models. The kids ran the model, and adjusted the slider bars to see how it affected the graph. Jeff educated the kids on Vensim, and the different parts that are used to create a system model. He had the kids add some aspect of realism to the model for the last 25 minutes of class before break. Some of them added new variables to their models such as population, while others added rates and constants like death rate and death respectively.

When the class came back from break, the students downloaded another Excel file from the Shodor site. Jeff explained how slider bars worked and could also be used in Excel to change the data in tables.

With NetLogo, Jeff showed the class a completely different model and explained the basics of the program and how it functioned. Finally, the last half an hour of the day was spent tweaking their models and writing reflections.