Learning, systems, science and schools

7 December 2011

IISME and CoCo present a back-to-back experts' session with two international leaders in Learning Sciences research.

When: 4-5:30 Wed, 7 December
Where: Lecture Room 424, Education Building A35

Uri Wilenski of Northwestern University, author of the widely-used NetLogo modeling environment and various STEM curricula, will present "Transforming Learning through agent-based modelling". Sharona Levy from the University of Haifa conducts research into complex systems in the domain of science and technology. She will discuss "Learning about learning complex systems: From preschool to high school".

Transforming knowledge and learning through Agent-Based Modeling

The increasing ubiquity of powerful computation has brought about powerful new representations and methods of using these representations. Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) is such a representation system and methodology. I argue that ABM representations allow us to transform knowledge from static forms such as equations to dynamic forms that enable us to connect multiple levels and to make sense of complex systems that have been hard to understand in other ways. Furthermore ABM representations have learnability properties that enable a large portion of the public to engage in scientific inquiry. I discuss examples of such knowledge and learning transformation gathered from two decades of work with ABM and describe efforts to jump start universal literacy in ABM representations.

Learning about learning complex systems: From preschool to high school

Research into students' understanding and learning about complex systems is described together with a "design toolbox" in the making for supporting such learning. Discoveries about spontaneous heuristics and mental models used by children of different ages are delineated as they interact with learning with innovative learning environments: preschool children's construction of adaptive robot behaviors, elementary students' understanding of everyday complex systems, middle school students' reasoning about chemical, geographical and biological systems and their learning, as well as high-school students' learning about complex chemical systems through exploring computer models. I end with a description of our most recent research into middle school chemistry learning, which has produced strong learning gains.

Speaker profiles

Uri Wilensky is a Professor of Learning Sciences, Computer Science and Complex Systems at Northwestern University as well as the Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling. He is involved in designing, deploying and researching learning technologies—especially for mathematics and science education. Much of his work of late has focused on the design of computer-based modeling and simulation languages, including networked collaborative simulations for both education and science research. He is the author of the widely-used NetLogo agent-based modeling environment, the HubNet participatory simulation system and numerous STEM curricula. He has an abiding interest in the changing content of knowledge in the context of ubiquitous computation, as well as in complexity and systems thinking. He has published more than 200 papers and has received numerous grants from national and international foundations. In 1996 he received a Career Award from the National Science Foundation. He has also taught at MIT and Tufts universities in the US as well as a number of universities abroad. He is a founder and executive editor of the journal Technology, Knowledge and Learning.

Sharona T. Levy is a member of the faculty at the University of Haifa, part of two divisions: Preschool Education and Development and Technologies in Education at the Faculty of Education. She conducted a thesis titled Young children's learning via solving problems in the real world with Professor David Chen and received her Ph.D. in 2003 from Tel-Aviv University's School of Education. After completing her Ph.D. she carried out postdoctoral research with Professor Uri Wilensky at the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling in the Learning Sciences department at Northwestern University. Her undergraduate studies were in Chemistry at Tel-Aviv University and her masters graduate studies were in Chemistry at the Technion with Professor Shammai Speiser, where she explored electronic interactions among closely-distanced molecules.

Time: 4-5:30pm

Location: Lecture Room 424, Education Building A35

Cost: Free