Preview - Animal Behavior Lab (Isopods)

Computational Thinking in Science and Math

Introduction to learning with Computational Models AP Version

Several lessons in this curriculum use computational models designed using a piece of software called NetLogo. In this lesson, we will try to understand what these models are and how to use them.

This lesson specifically focuses on learning science with computational models of emergent natural phenomena. Emergent phenomena are ones in which simple interactions between agents and their environment result in complex patterns. For example, a flock of birds (see below). 


In a flock of birds, most people assume that the "head" bird is a leader of the flock. However, flocks actually emerge from each bird following a simple set of rules regarding alignment, coherence and separation with neighboring birds. This means that the shape of a flock is emergent and not directed by any particular leader bird.

Learning Goals - 

  • In this lesson, we will use a NetLogo model about Forest Fires to learn about how to computationally study a scientific phenomenon.
  • We will learn how to engage in scientific inquiry practices to construct knowledge.
  • We will learn how to engage in computational thinking practices. We will focus on four computational thinking practices: data practices, modeling and simulation practices, computational problem solving practices, and systems thinking practices.

Let's get started!