Modeling Real World Challenges Inspires Students
Last summer I had the opportunity to see students from Diana Fisher’s dynamic modeling class at Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon present their modeling projects to participants of the International System Dynamics Society Conference in Albuquerque. The parallel session was filled with educators and professionals from different fields, many of whom are renowned system dynamicists.
I think it is safe to say that we all were very impressed by the quality of the students’ work and how well they understood the dynamics associated with the issues they were presenting. Perhaps more striking however, was seeing how empowering modeling real-world issues is for young people and the enthusiasm they share for their work.
Now everyone can see the effect that modeling real-world issues has on students at the CC Modeling Systems web site. Dedicated to helping educators bring dynamic modeling into the classroom, the web site features videos of students presenting their work as compelling evidence to the value of incorporating System Thinking and system dynamics into curriculum.
You’ll be amazed to see what 14-18 year olds are capable of and the excitement they exuberate when addressing challenges such as:
- How much do carbon emissions need to be reduced in order to stop global warming?
- Can automakers cope with the increasing demand for hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles?
- What is the impact of introducing an invasive species into an ecosystem?
- Will China have sufficient water resources to sustain population and agricultural growth?
- How can we improve the blood donation process in the United States?
Students are eager to understand the world better and are more than capable of building and understanding relatively sophisticated models in their attempts to understand the dynamics of real-world systems.
Educators and administrators considering dynamic modeling curricula typically face challenges. No matter how compelling the evidence that Systems Thinking and the system dynamics methodology engages students and takes them to a higher level of reasoning, it is still difficult to justify without tying it to National Standards.
The CC Modeling Systems web site devotes an entire section to detailing very specific 21st Century Skills and National Standards addressed by curriculum that incorporates building system dynamics models. Much of the homework has been done aligning this type of work to standards in the following subject areas:
Many thanks to Diana Fisher for sharing her students and her experiences teaching dynamic modeling with all of us!
To learn more about the modeling course that Diana teaches, I recommend the following links:
Recorded webinar presentation by Diana Fisher
Modeling Dyamic Systems: Lessons for a First Course