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


I didn’t think about incorporating the different styles of learning into the plan… That is a great idea!


I think of the population change activities we do with dice. I often wonder if kids “get it” because it takes so long to collect the data. This could be a meaningful alternative.


My middle school days as a student were more than 50 years ago. Computational science was not a part of the curriculum. I see how it would enhance the teaching of science today and improve student motivation.


Computational science is good to simulate things that would take too long in a science lab. For example, genetics, evolution, and natural selection. All topics I like to show with computer simulation to help kids understand.


In my school experience I studied cells using textbooks, worksheets, and ended the unit with a cell model. Using computer science, there are interactive models available for students to study the parts of a cell and get a better understanding of the shape and functions of the organelles.


Surely there are games or models demonstrating genetic mutation that allow students to make their own fictional creatures. They would go crazy with that.


an experiment that could be done using computational science would be the changing flow of rivers.


An experiment I might conduct in computational science that would not be possible in a traditional science lab is finding out the consumption of a natural resource, such as water, within a population, like a city.


We did not do computational science. My 8th grade class does a year long project in which they grow oysters in the Rappahannock and attempt to correlate the growth rate with data that they collect throughout the school year. It would be nice to model the growth rate over a longer period of time and be able to manipulate variables to see what differences it would make in the oysters’ size.


Similar: Thermodynamic phenomenon in a change of phase which gives more accurate data than real lab.
Different: Interaction between highly cognitve organism such as humans; the unpredictability to react on events is too complex to simulate.


A traditional experiment that I experienced as a middle school student was the concept of convection. I did an experiment with food coloring that hot water was red and cold water was blue. Both of these colors were put together and the red water sat on top of the blue water. I simply learned the concept and that’s that.
With computational science, I can see the potential for convection currents to a model where there could be fire or even magma and see how it affects the surrounding area including the speed of the smoke/magma moving and possibly apply it to jobs that experience and could use this information.


Computational science allows you to actually conduct “what if” scenarios instead of just reading about a topic and discussing it theoretically. With this method, you can allow students to conduct experiments that might otherwise not be possible - plant growth cycles during the winter months, ice formation and glacial movements studied in schools in the desert southwest. When resource availability or time are issues, using computational science allows students to benefit from actually conducting the experiments instead of just reading the facts.


My science experience in school was more book and lab related. Computational science gives opportunities to explore many things not otherwise possible like the spread of epidemics globally or climate change models.


Studying genetics would be a good use of computational science


Computational science is helpful when needing large amounts of data within a limited amount of time. It helps to simulate real world experiences that may not be able to perform in the real world because of danger, time, or monetary restrictions. In class, a computer science model might help to explain weather phenomena that is too dangerous to observe due to hazards which may be incurred by being in the midst of a storm.


I use PhET Colorado simulations all the time with my science students for digital experiments that would be too dangerous, and/or impossible to complete, otherwise. Such as this one here:


I could use this to show behavior of molecules in states of matter


I feel like I might have actually done more labs when I ws a student in K-12 than I do as a teacher “nowadays” but there’s really no way to be sure. I’m thinking about how many things I used to do with my kids that I can’t do now because rules have changed - one of my old favorites was taking glycerine and potassium permangenate to show both exothermic reactions and the difference between chemical and physical changes. Glycerine is still available in the grocery store but KMNO4 is harder to come by, so maybe I could use CS with my students. On the other hand, that doesn’t really seem to take advantage to the power of the simulation. Growth or survivability in different evironments might be a better use of the technology - I could see how valuable this would be when time and resources are so limited in the classroom - the kids could make programs that mimic millions of years of natural selection.


The Science I learned in school many years ago was made up of facts to be memorized for a test. Computational Science could provide my students a very different experience. They could create simulations of how (their) human behavior impacts global warming, make predictions of a species evolutionary change over time, or model the transmission of a disease (ex. MERS) around the globe.


I agree that different modes of learning are important in the classroom because every child is different; however, I realize that I don’t ever have to convince my students to learn via the computers. On days I have assigned an activity on the Chromebooks, I get a steady stream of “yes!” from my kids as they walk through the door and see the agenda on the board. Computers keep my students engaged, challenged and excited about the lesson. When I tell my students that I didn’t have a computer until college and that the Internet was not available when I was in middle school, they feel sorry for me…haha