Teachers College Press

Adventures in Modeling:
Exploring Complex Dynamic Systems with StarLogo

Vanessa Stevens Colella, Eric Klopfer, and Mitchel Resnick
Pub Date: June 2001, 192 pages

Paperback: $32.95, ISBN: 0807740829
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"I have found no other single text to be as useful and thorough in leading teachers and students through the use of modeling in inquiry-based science. This approach works!"
James C. Taylor
, Chair, Computer Science & Technology Dept., Santa Fe Preparatory School

"StarLogo and the activities in this book have generated profound changes in my students’ relationships to technology. While much ‘educational’ software renders the student passive, modeling allows students to think, create, and explore in ways that aren’t possible with traditional tools."
Carolyn Skibba
, Technology Specialist, Burley Public Elementary School, Chicago

"There’s a lot of ‘zen’ in particle simulation systems, especially from the StarLogo inventions of Mitchel Resnick and his coworkers at MIT. This book excellently fills a great need in providing an introduction to StarLogo aimed at teachers, a sample curriculum with exercises, and fun and enlightening projects for teachers to do with their students."
Alan Kay
, Disney Fellow and VP of R&D, Walt Disney Imagineering

"Students understand the actions of individuals, yet often have difficulty predicting the behavior of populations. With StarLogo models, they discover that interactions are just as important as actions in determining outcomes. StarLogo helps students appreciate the complexities and paradoxes of living systems. StarLogo projects model reality better than any other teaching resource I have used."
Hal Scheintaub
, Science Teacher, Governor Dummer Academy, Massachusetts

"Creating scientific models is at the heart of science. For too long, K-12 has been locked out of participating in this key activity. That’s all about to change! Colella et al.’s book will help teachers use StarLogo to construct models of provocative phenomena. This wonderful book builds the needed capacity in K-12 teachers for scientific modeling; it’s a short hop for teachers to then empower their children to also use StarLogo for scientific modeling activities."
Elliot Soloway
, Professor, College of Engineering, School of Information, School of Education, University of Michigan

Have you ever wondered how birds flock or forest fires spread? For thousands of years people—from daVinci to Einstein—have created models to help them better understand patterns and processes in the world around them. Computers make it easier for novices to build and explore their own models—and learn new scientific ideas in the process. Adventures in Modeling introduces you and your students to designing, creating, and investigating models in StarLogo.

Using models to explore complex, dynamic systems or events (like predator/prey interactions or traffic jams) is a powerful learning experience. It can help you see the world in new ways and demonstrate how complex patterns can arise from many simple interactions. Modeling and simulation are finding a rapidly growing audience among teachers in middle and high school science and mathematics classes—especially since the NCTM and AAAS standards advocate their integration into the curriculum. This valuable resource:

  • Helps educators and their students learn to build their own models (not just use models constructed by others) even if  they have no previous modeling or programming experience
  • Cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries, helping illuminate the connections among different sciences, social sciences, and mathematics
  • Combines computer activities with "in-the-world activities," providing teachers and students with the best of both worlds
  • Introduces the study of "complex systems," a field that has attracted great attention in the scientific community during the past decade
  • Provides explicit links to state and national math and science content standards

As computer use gains in currency and value in the middle and high school classroom, Adventures in Modeling will give teachers and students an effective way to build curiosity and boost learning outcomes in a standards-based curriculum.

Note: The StarLogo program and sample classroom projects are available online at http://education.mit.edu/starlogo

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