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


The perfect science classroom looks like organized chaos. This type of classroom is confusing and overwhelming to the untrained eye.


Well, giving that this question asks for something like an ideal, I will answer what would be hoped for as my classroom and school does not have enough computers for us to use on a daily basis or even weekly - once a month is more realistic. But an “ideal” classroom would have students learning a concept either through discovery or direct instruction and the discovery could be through the modeling aspect as learning through one’s own mistakes is the most ideal. The teacher is a tool to help instruct students and the ideal roll is one in which the teacher is directing the path of the students but not overpowering the trail by being the only way students learn. Students should learn from all forums: reading, listening, watching, touching, modelling.


My vision of a science classroom would be that the teacher would initially present the ideas and show an example then have the students practice the example. The final stage would have the students create there own model and the teacher moves to a facilitator role, basically Piaget model.


I was also impressed with the sand box display! What a hands-on way to show students real-world problems and solutions.


My vision of a successful classroom would involve most if not all students engaging in some sort of real life problem solving project. Because some students need that push or partner to get their ideas out, I do not imagine that every student works alone. Having a partner may help some students form an argument which will in turn help them to realize solutions. I believe that the classroom will incorporate conceptual design with or without laptops. More importantly the student will be able to state a thesis, make a claim and through the modeling that they perform, they will be able to develop reasons to support their observations. It would be a very rigorous class setting.


I think that is very important for the students to understand where “they live”!!!


I think a successful science classroom begins with modeling- and a lot of it! We must model the scientific process and think out loud when it comes to inquiry and observations. Students need to see the value of inquiry and how it contributes to our learning. Students are eager to get involved in hands on simulation with science, but they must follow the process and engage in discussion, questioning, analyzing, etc. in order to have a valuable and successful experience.


A successful science classroom is one in which students see the relevance between real life and concepts learned in the class. Ideally, students enter an organized, physically attractive and engaging classroom with a space for individual student work folders and/or laptops. Students know exactly what they will be working on when they enter the classroom. They pick up personal folders, lab equipment, and a laptop. They group themselves according to the day’s task at hand and begin work. Laptops are used for research, recording and organizing data, and for generating necessary computer simulations. The teacher serves as a guide and support, answering questions and guiding students into their own discoveries.


I like the idea that some students could work at their level. Those students that are on a higher level could be engaged in more complex tasks. This would be helpful to students at all levels of learning.


My version of a successful Science classroom would use real world problems, many of which would be driven by student interest and experience, to solve using inquiry based learning that integrates modeling and simulation. The students would choose problems to solve relating to curriculum. They would research topics and created models to explore solutions to or expose problems. Students will work together in small groups or with partners, and they will share their finding in a variety of ways. Computers will be used in research, modeling, reviewing, and sharing information.


I am not a science teacher but my vision of a science class would be a busy one. One of my favorite classes I have observed was a science class. The room was chaotic but it was apparent students were excited and learning. Every time I came into the room students were busy discussing, experimenting and questioning how things work. I believe a science class should be this way.


I like the fact that you want to use real world problems. By looking at the real world it gets students to think about what is happening in the world.


A successful science classroom would integrate modeling and simulation with the traditional methods of teaching (ie. lecture, textbook, hands-on activities, engineering activities, labs, multi-media,…) not just one method. The key in the classroom is to let students have a variety of experiences with a concept or concepts and then, with this background knowledge, let them go deeper into the material with the teacher as a facilitator/coach instead of the “sage on the stage”; simulations allow for this deeper learning.

In this classroom, students should not only have time to work individually for mastery, but also, have multiple chances to collaborate with others looking at the teacher for guidance, setting individual as well as group goals. The teacher is no longer the “giver of all answers”, and students can become independent learners - guiding and learning from each other.

Computers are, not the main focus of the science classroom, but are an adjunct to student learning and allow for the deeper study of a concept in action. Students can then learn the value of computers and model simulations in different fields of study instead of thinking of computers and programming just for the computer tech industries.


My idea of a successful classroom that would take advantage of modeling and simulation would be one where students are engaged in the lesson, but should be at different points in making progress toward understanding/learning. The teacher could, as presented in the video, provide students with a base model for students to start with. Most of the class time would be spent as students moved from using that base model to tinkering with it to change the variables and then redesigning it to suit their test objectives. Students that are quicker to catch on, or more self-directed can work ahead and explore more deeply(test different variables, run more trials, etc) on the computers. The teacher is freed to be more of a facilitator to offer help when needed instead of a director. Students wouldn’t be herded along at the same pace.


Like so many here, I also love the idea of a noisy and active classroom. Given unlimited resources, and a roomful of implicitly motivated students, I would ideally have a classroom in which half of the students are engaged in real-world data collection while the other half are using models to explore the same concepts. They could then compare results and discuss why they are not the same.

I don’t agree, however, that there is no place for lecture and Socratic-style dialogue in the classroom. Constructionism (not to mention, eck, standardized testing) still requires that students have a base knowledge in order to better analyze and synthesize information. Sometimes, the most efficient way to accomplish this is through good old note-taking. I also feel this is necessary as a skill-builder, as those who are college bound will undoubtedly need to know how to listen and take notes simultaneously.


What I like in a successful science classroom is that all students get to create products that relate the student to the topic at hand. Many times, when teaching kinetic and potential energy, it’s best to understand the words at hand, then put into practice through a simulation (to test the boundaries - can the loop be taller than the 1st hill, etc), then build a model with set parameters (must have 1 hill and 2 loops). Finally, bring in an expert (i.e. owner of an amusement park) and have students try to sell their model to the expert.

The teacher should be there to teach the words (or have students explore/research themselves), set up an activity where the students are the explorers with the teacher being the challenger (setting up parameters, and/or introducing real-world problems they could encounter) both with the simulation and the building of the models.


A successful science classroom would help implicit modeling and ideas become explicit. Where students and teachers are working together to build understand of concepts. Computers often let a child have a voice with the communication tools available that was otherwise silent in the classroom. Computers will have a place but will not completely replace the very important teacher/student interaction.


I found the video for this section to be very stimulating in challenging the traditional Science classroom. Many of the previous responses talked about their visions in a very articulate way that echoes my vision. Carrie Crawford, Sarah Gordy, and Mateo Garcia, for example, were very eloquent in their responses. In reading those entries and processing the information from the video, I found myself with a model in my head (reference intended) of a classroom where students take a concept and build models, then question those models to determine variant outcomes. This becomes particularly exciting in realizing that modeling can allow one to change a system to produce alternate, more desirable outcomes. Therefore, constantly creating new questions following the typical conclusion part of an experiment, leading to new hypotheses would be the desired product of a science classroom that includes modeling and simulations. The role of the teacher would become one of teaching students how to evaluate and question outcomes–how to formulate those questions-- rather than providing information and answers as in traditional classrooms. The role of computers would, of course, be to provide the opportunity of testing a variety of variables quickly.


My ideal classroom has students answering their own questions about topics learned in class. They would be in groups researching, collaborating, questioning, seeking experts, experimenting, redesigning and sharing the answers to the questions they want to further explore. The collaboration would exist between the students in the group, other groups, and with the use of technology, experts and other students outside of the school. Experiments can include those done in the lab or by computational models. As students investigate they would learn, with a vested interest, what I would be expecting them to learn anyway.


Collaboration can also go beyond the classroom. Use the laptop as a tool to also seek out collaborators and experts via Skype or other messaging and video chat tools.