Computer Science in Science PD: Introduction to Computational Science - Discussion


Continue the discussion:

This discussion forum continues on the Project GUTS online professional development network at

Reflect on the Science you learned in school. What is similar / different in computational science? Give an example of an experiment you might conduct in computational science that would not be possible in a traditional science lab.

Post your thoughts to the forum below, and come back later to read other entries and comment on another teacher’s response.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Computational science allows you to experiment with real-world issues in a shorter period of time and allows the experiment of plausible solutions without harm or damage to the environment or animal. I could see students conducting an experiment about the spread of a disease through a population and providing possible ways to control and eliminate the spread using computational science.


Computational Science simulates real life situations or those that could lead to real life circumstances.


Computational Science would have been amazing when I was a kid! To actually understand “the way things work” without constantly re reading a text would have made for a more engaging student in a science course.


The Science I learned in school was not very interactive and usually was taught out of a book. Chemistry is really the only class I remember not being taught out of a book.A lab I would like to try using computational science would be examining predator-prey relationships or a simulation on variations within a species.


I agree computational Science would have been an amazing way to learn! while reading is important, the 21st century learner needs to access information in a variety of ways. Creating and running a model is a great way to learn by doing.


Computational science is similar to science presented in school in that it explores real world possibilities and tries to present probable outcomes. In a traditional lab, certain species of organisms are more popular for study, for their simplicity or their quick reproductive life cycles, like Drosophila. If time is not issue, more complex organisms can be used for study and simulation.


Computational science is awesome because it allows you to investigate real world phenomena that you would not ordinarily be able to due to monetary, logistical, or time constraints. It opens up an entirely new dimension for students to use their imagination to solve problems in a non-threatening way.


I see so many applications of computational science! The spread of an infectious disease, predator/ prey interactions, effects of drought (or any limiting factor) on a specific species or entire ecosystem, the effects of an earthquake due to different subsoil/rock types, weather systems, climate change… I could go on and on! It is exciting to think students could use this and see models of possible outcomes of an event or change in conditions rather than just read about what might happen in a text book.


Wow! That was so cool! It took into account many different learning types. Kids would love that. It would motivate them to learn by grabbing their attention and making it interactive. I could totally see the application of that tool in my own classroom. You could use it to measure the impact of habitat loss on a population for example.


When I was in school, we did labs using hands on techniques. For example, we would do a pH lab where we could find the pH of different household items. We would use pH paper or a digital tool like a pH meter to measure the pH of each substance. I could envision using computer science to simulate that experiment without having to physically perform the experiment. For example a virtual pH meter and virtual samples. See how adding acids and bases changes the Hydrogen ion concentration by simulating it in a computer program.


That was an amazing display of Computational Science. What a great tool. You could take almost any thing where the students plot tables and make predictions and turn it into a predictive computational science experiment. In my aerospace engineering course, the students have to take lift measurements from various airfoil shapes using different wind speeds. It would be great if all of the different shapes and speeds could be inthe same interactive model.


Interesting that Redfish demonstrator recognized that people learn in a variety of different ways (visual, tactile, auditory, or kinesthetic) While I did not understand the science behind what he was doing, the applications of computational sciences have almost unlimited applications.


Computational science presents some wild opportunities for learning! I loved the way they showed it as a conglomerate of computer science, lab science and math. It makes it pretty clear that the stuff I learned in Science and Math are valuable in the world of computational science :blush:

Yesterday, we had about 100 junior high/high school girls with engineers at a seminar. The surveyors were showing them how they gathered the data for the designers to use on projects and it employed very similar scanning techniques. The scans they then used with the GIS system were accurate to 3mm for a 400m scan. If we can integrate the computer science into our science and math classes, the kids we teach will really have a leg up in the real world of today.


I think it’s very important not to let the modeling be to only way students solve problems. Identifying the parameters and translating the code has to be an integral part of the process that they participate in - not just the ‘game’ at the end!


Computational science enables scientists/educators to manipulate and study real-world problems that are not easily reproducible to view and study. Students can make predictions as to potential patterns that will result, or create a possible solution to potential hazards to reduce loss of lives, money or resources. In our class we’ve studied the effects of fire in the national forest and the possibility to reduce the losses associated with it.


When I took science we mostly learned from lectures and books. Computational science could allow students to work to create their own labs. They could use computational science to see how traits are passed from parent to offspring as well as probability of traits and mutations.


In elementary school there were no labs or experimentation, what a difference this will make.


Computational science can allow students to study real world problems and engage them in practical applications of learning. As a teacher, I strive for ways to engage students in thinking that they can take out of the classroom and apply to what they see, hear and use in their everyday life. Computational science can be the key to unlock 21st century thinking in today’s students.


Computational science would be good to model long term chemical reactions, like rusting. A simulation could be run and then compared to the slower real time reaction,