Saturday, February 27, 2010

Modeling vs. Simulation

For awhile I've been skeptical about simulations. I've seen teachers struggling to implement inquiry reach for simulations when they can't do actual data collection, but I'm skeptical because of the lack of real data. Today, though, I saw how modeling can fit well with inquiry.

The picture shows my son David participating in an activity at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. The students' challenge was to design with Silly Putty a shape that fell very slowly in water. They were simulating zooplankton and how it's adapted to fall slowly through the water. I realized just a change in view could take this non-inquiry activity to an inquiry investigation. If the students are modeling, and the model is a good one, then they can actually collect data from their model's behavior.

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