In May, 2008 Virginia Beach City Public Schools approved the Modeling and Simulation (MODSIM) Demonstration School Project at Ocean Lakes High School. The purpose of this project is to use modeling and simulation as an instructional strategy within math and science instruction and to demonstrate ways to integrate math and science instruction through the use of models and simulations. This project was undertaken based on the recommendation of the Hampton Roads Modeling and Simulation Initiative.
The Hampton Roads Modeling and Simulation Initiative is a confederation of individuals from the business, K-20+ education, government, industry, and training sectors of Hampton Roads (VA). The members of the initiative are united by their common, collective interest in Modeling and Simulation (MODSIM) as an engine for economic development in Hampton Roads and Virginia. The Education and Training Panel subcommittee advises the Hampton Roads Modeling and Simulation Initiative on K-20+ education, training, and 21st Century workforce development. The Panel is focused on the use, application, and promotion of modeling, simulation, visualization, game-based learning, and systems dynamics as tools for enhancing and enriching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and training with the goal of creating a workforce for the 21st Century.
Introduction of these technology-based tools into the K-20+ curriculum is expected to:
•Help students develop problem-solving, analytical, and higher-order thinking skills.
•Help teachers and students understand the interdisciplinary nature of science, engineering, and technology.
•Increase technological literacy.
•Enhance and enrich teaching and learning by providing real world applications of engineering, mathematics, and science concepts.
To achieve the purpose of the project, Mark Clemente, a teacher in Virginia Beach, was selected to be the coordinator of this project. A cadre of teachers at Ocean Lakes High School was selected to participate in this project. This cadre consists of three math teachers representing Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Precalculus; and three science teachers representing Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
The cadre spent three days over the summer of 2008 planning and writing lessons that incorporate modeling and simulation. The teachers also compared and mapped their curricula, looking for overlaps between subjects and disciplines to guide the development of joint lessons that allow for the integration of math and science instruction. Another goal of the team is to create lessons that move from teacher-centered, pre-constructed models and simulations to student-centered and student generated models and simulations.
The teacher cadre has begun to incorporate modeling and simulation into their lessons. A sampling of these lessons will be posted on the Hampton Roads Modeling and Simulation Initiative’s wiki, modsim.wikispaces.com
. Teachers have completed introductory training on STELLA, a systems thinking software package that allows users to model systems processes. In the near future, they will receive training on Excelets, an Excel-driven mathematical modeling program developed by Dr. Scott Sinex of Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.
An important aspect of this project is that it contains a research component. Dr. Ginger Watson, Associate Professor of Instructional Design and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, is working with the project coordinator to design a formal research study to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the effectiveness of the project.
The research study has three major components:
• an attitudinal study of students;
• an effectiveness study of the strategy; and
• a teachers’ needs assessment.Other partners in this project to date include:
• National Institute of Aerospace (NIA)
– in order to organize, coordinate, and direct these efforts, Mr. Clemente has been assigned as a VBCPS/NIA-MODSIM Educator in Residence. NIA has also provided several online resources for the project through their partnership with Nortel LearnIt.
• isee Systems
– isee Systems has provided professional development materials and expertise to the MODSIM teacher cadre for STELLA,
• Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE)
– VSTE has agreed to showcase MODSIM at their annual conference February 22 – 24, 2009 to promote awareness of this project. There will be a “MODSIM room” which will have nine sessions focused on the use of modeling and simulation in the classroom.