How can we use qualitative modeling and reasoning to understand the structure, function, and dynamics of simulated ecosystems?
Students will design ecosystem models based upon their best understanding of the components, interactions, and feedback loops present in the system. Students will either design models free form or with the POWERPLAY program that we have created and is available for free on a web site listed below. Using the models, students then discuss their understanding of ecosystem interactions with one another, write up and submit their responses to essay questions, and design a series of testable hypotheses.
Students performing the methodology described in Part 1 will not need to use computers but may wish to use
any graphics program, if available. Students will need to be provided with some sort of "field experience" upon which to base their models.
Part 2 will require use of computers with internet access to use POWERPLAY, a graphical program that we have created and is available for free from the Ecological Society of America's Ecological Archives (http://esapubs.org/Archive/ecol/E083/022/suppl-1.htm), from the POWERPLAY downloads page (http://www.ent.orst.edu/loop/download.aspx), or from the TIEE Downloads page (downloads.html).
For Part 1, one model will be produced by each student along with student written responses to questions about their models. For Part 2, computer generated models and research hypotheses will be produced as well as essays in response to questions about their research results.
qualitative modeling, feedback, systems, predator-prey, interference, mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, stability
application, analysis, synthesis, qualitative reasoning, systems thinking, ecological modeling
modeling is used to help the student develop insights about ecosystem functioning and about their own learning; metacognition. Also, informal groupwork, alternative assessment, cognitive skill levels, concept mapping, think-pair-share, misconceptions, scoring rubrics, constructivism, open-ended inquiry