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


i love earth science. erosion is fun too. and computational science can speed it up. not to mention putting plate tectonic theory into an animated action movie.


Computational science allows students to create models and observe things in the classroom that they would not be able to observe otherwise. An experiment that I might conduct in the classroom using computational science would be how asteroids, meteors, and comets are affected by the gravitational pull of planets and other space objects.


In the traditional science model I grew up with the teacher presented the information, then walked the students through an experiment that the teacher already knew the outcome of, so we really learned process. Whereas computational science allows students to create and alter experiments resulting in outcome the teacher cannot necessarily predict.


When I first started teaching, the food chain was something that we could only relate to using charts and graphs. It was difficult helping some students reach the understanding of how an increase or decrease of certain species can affect the survival rate of other species.

Using CS the students can actually see and explore the different scenarios in an accelerated rate.


Computational science is different from the way I learned science in that most of what we were taught, came from a book. However, we were allowed to do a large amount of experimentation, and computational science may have just given us an opportunity to take our experiments a step further and apply our work to the larger population.

I think students could use computational science to track weather patterns or when doing a unit on tornadoes.


I agree! I think the students would really enjoy being able to simulate the weather systems as opposed to just reading about them.


The first thing that comes to mind for computational science in the classroom is ecosystems. Students could look at how invasive species can affect an ecosystem or how a natural disaster could affect biodiversity. I look forward to getting more ideas on how to use this in physical sciences for middle school.


I’ve used some existing simulations with 7th grade life science in the past–very different from my own middle school science experience (which mostly I don’t remember at all…). The simulations modeling predator/prey relationships and how simple food webs/food chains are impacted as parameters are manipulated give students a great way to study populations, etc. It is especially helpful when student can collect their own data and analyze it to draw conclusions, or propose “what if” scenarios. That personal level of involvement also makes the task much more engaging for students.


Investigating the effects of Catastrophic Events can take place using Computational Science but not as effective using the older way of learning science (memorizing facts).


To tie into current events, students could study the long term effect of the areas current drought. Weather patterns, the effect that the change in the jet stream is having on precipitation in the area, and how that could affect the watershed that we depend on for so many of our families.


I like the tie in here with medical uses. It would be very unethical to segregate a population and give them a disease so that scientist could watch how it spreads and how various medications control the spread of the disease. Even if the longitudinal study could be done in real time, the ethics involved need to be considered.


Computational Science is an extension of lab experiments for classes such as biology, chemistry, physics etc… where before you would either do dissections, build a physical model, do a lab experiment now you can conduct virtual experiments in school on more complex or larger scopes of study such space, weather, animal behavior etc… and pose a question to then program the computer simulation and see what happens. It is very engaging for kids as much as physically dissecting animals was in the past.


I love the idea of using this to animate plate tectonics!


I agree. I wish we had computational Science when I was in school!


In a traditional science lab, it would be impossible/impractical to simulate food webs, but would be fairly easy to do so in computational science


I think it would be interesting for students to conduct a model on how specific insecticides would affect the population of pests on crops. They would be able to compare different brands, but they can also create a model that gives information on how it affects the human population as well. Our “what if” questions will all be solved!!! Yipeee!!!


I didn’t think of a virtual dissection as computational science until I read your post. Very eye opening. It makes it easier for students who aren’t able to dissect a real animal. Using it to study space would be ideal so that students are able to see a simulation rather than imagine it. Space just seems like a very large topic that’s hard to grasp.


Predator & prey relationships over a period time can be clearly demonstrated through simulations offered in computational science programs. In the traditional labs one could only work with given data for analysis and/or a very small modeling of the process.


Any experiment that may take a very long time to replicate would be great for this process. I think this is a great way for students to see process and activity over time in a controlled environment.


Computational science is a great way to allow students to work through their investigations. Rather then learn a fact and predict a result, students can simulate the development of the process and draw a more definitive conclusion. For example, studying populations over time in an ecosystem. We live on Lake Michigan and our students learn about the effects of invasive species. These simulations could allow for them to study the effects of these species on the lake ecosystem.