Computer Science in Science PD: Using Computer Models in Science - Discussion


In physical science we specify variables and include several levels of manipulation. Students see what happens to the time it takes for 100mL of water to boiling, and for 200mL, 300mL, 400mL as well. With computational models, students are not as limited in the levels of manipulation. Students can see in the model that the amount of heat needed for a certain amount of water to boil is consistent and predictable for very very very large amounts of water, too. This helps students develop a deeper and higher level of understanding.


I agree. Students can repeat an experiment many times with slightly different results using simulations. I believe that is powerful as students build connections to science concepts.


students are able to share other students their experiment. whereas in the lab, materials and other parameters might be exhausted and thus not manageable to share to others.


Computational models seem to provide flexibility and more opportunity than the traditional inquiry lab. With the computational model the teacher can allow students to perform problem based assignments with out the limitation of time. When implementing traditional labs, I often run out of time, which leaves the student with an incomplete demonstration of content. Using this model students can complete the assignment over several class periods. Students may also be introduced to more content or be able to delve deeper into content because the computational model is not limited to resources.


Using the computer models allows students more options when it comes to experimentation. They can also test their hypothesis when materials are not available.


With limited resources and space the tactile experiments are always challenging. Using computer models opens up a new set opportunities. We are able to explore concepts and avenues that live outside the four walls of my classroom, and that reach beyond the school campus. Exploring space and the stars is challenging during the day, however computer models give us access to view the stars and their patterns.


Computer models allow students to adjust variables and give the teacher opportunities to have experiments in the classroom that is not set up for science!


Could not have said it better myself! We are now moving forward with NGSS and 6th grade Math/Science classes, we are not set up for science in any way shape or form. I am excited to know more about computer modeling.


The experimental design enabled with computational models I think should be very similar to the science practices that students experience in class.


I love the idea that students can try out multiple scenarios. It won’t cost extra money for lab supplies. The process will elicit questions and more possibilities that students can try out by changing agents and seeing reactions.


Maybe it doesn’t eliminate error so much, but it provides a safe place to make a mistake, problem solve, and fix it. Maybe it was a simple drag and drop issue. Maybe it was the wrong instruction for the agent. Either way, it’s a simple cost free mistake that doesn’t require more supplies (which I love).

I completely agree with this being an avenue that allows students time to experiment adjusting variables to satisfy their curiosity.


Using computer models in order to perform experiments is another way of running them in a safe and a controlled manner. For example, in order to find the boiling point of water, we do not have to be worry about the manipulation of the utensil in the lab activity as well as the water temperature.That would save us time and also avoid accidents during the lab activity.


I agree. Also, we can reinforce the steps of the scientific process by using computer models that reinforce the role of variables in an experiment.


I think the main difference will be the ability to repeat the experiment many times and get different results due to randomness. And then to change the parameters and see what outcome you get. We usually do an experiment once, get the predicted result, and move on.


In labs there is a lot of room for error, especially with students. These lead to many teachable moments which become memorable, and open discussions. Computational models are best for labs that can not be replicated in a lab setting.


I’ve found that real labs are quite difficult to repeat and improve upon after the first trial. there simply isn’t enough time and resources in class. I can see by using computer simulations that students could start up where they left off if they run out of time in class. They could also repeat the simulation multiple times with ease.


i also like the idea that our students can use computer models to study and make models of things we normally cant do in the classroom due to availablilty, liability issues, financially, or what ever the problem might be. It opens up a few more doors for our students.


As a part of my program, I am teaching students how to make an hypothesis, collect data, and then decide what it means. If will often take us 2-3 days for each experiment. That limits how many times we can experiments. With computational models, I could be able to speed up the process, and give my students more opportunities to practice learning the scientific method.


It is different from experimental design in that they can change different variables in order to see how each one would affect the outcome of the experiment in a shorter amount of time (rather than physically repeating the experiment many times). The computational model will also allow the students to collect more accurate data because of the minimization of human errors.


My labs are typically one and done due to time constraints. I am excited about the computer models because they can be run multiple times. And it doesn’t require a whole lab set up from me each time. Our students are often told that experiments should be run multiple times, but due to time and money constraints (and energy exerted by the teacher) we don’t let students actually do that.