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Wednesday, November 14 • 1:45pm - 2:35pm
EcoMOD: Blending Computational Modeling and Virtual Worlds for 3rd Grade Ecosystems Science

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In recent years, the field of education has challenged researchers and practitioners to incorporate computing as an essential focus of K12 STEM education. Widely recognized as a “basic skill” necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility, integrating computing within K12 STEM supports learners in applying computational thinking while co-developing practices essential to mathematical and scientific expertise. The EcoMOD research project is an example of such an integration. EcoMOD is a 3rd grade science curriculum that blends scientific modeling tasks and computer programming within an immersive virtual ecosystem.

The EcoMOD curriculum interweaves a 3D virtual ecosystem and a visual block-based programming and modeling environment such that the epistemic goals of science are visible to learners. In EcoMOD, students explore an immersive virtual forest ecosystem from multiple perspectives; collecting data, embodying behaviors of focal animals using an immersive point-of-view tool, documenting change caused by the arrival of two keystone species (beavers and woodpeckers), and, finally, developing theories to explain those observed changes. Students test their theories by constructing and refining computational models of the ecosystem. Model outcomes help students link individual organism behaviors to indirect and emergent system level impacts, in turn scaffolding the development of more sophisticated theories regarding the complex causal relationships within the ecosystem.


Amanda Dickes

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Shari Metcalf

Project Director, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Wednesday November 14, 2018 1:45pm - 2:35pm EST
Conference Room 210

Attendees (2)