Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Exploring Resource Availability and Population Size - Section 2: Explore


Simulations make the invisible, visible. They are authentic scientific experiences as simulations are critical science and engineering tools. 

When working with the NGSS, one of the Science and Engineering Practices is Models and Systems Models. The intention is to use "scientific models". Scientific models are not paper mache volcanoes, which doesn't simulate an actual geological occurrence.

Models are not necessarily "things". In fact, by now students are using computational models, simulations, and abstract representations such as flow charts, mind maps, stock and flow diagrams, and so on.

There are a growing number of excellent resources for simulations. The Concord Consortium, PhET, Majik Mike (I know, strange name. But there are some good simulations here.), Absorb Physics, FreezeRay, Google Earth, Google Sky, Google Ocean, cK-12, and much more. 

Keep in mind that it is critical for you to do more than familiarize yourself with the simulation before using it. By actually using it, as if you were a student with the assignment, you will be able to anticipate bottlenecks, areas of possible misconceptions, as well as provide a learning experience with accountability rather than a free-for-all exploration. Having said that, it is not a bad idea to give students time to "play" before getting down to the work. This way they get to know the tools first.

  Using Simulations
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Using Simulations
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Exploring Resource Availability and Population Size

Unit 8: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Lesson 2 of 10

Objective: SWBAT analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

Big Idea: Students explore the impact of resource availability on organisms in an ecosystem.

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