IISME Seminar on Computational Scientific Inquiry

28 March 2012

Computational Scientific Inquiry: Agent-based virtual environments for understanding complex biological systems with Professor Michael J. Jacobson and Dr. Charlotte E. Taylor.

When: 4:30-5:30pm (join us from 4pm for light refreshments) - 28 March, 2012
Where: New Law Seminar Room 030
RSVP: by 23 March 2012 for catering purposes (see form below)

The practice of science in the 21st century is increasingly embracing computational modeling techniques to compliment traditional quantitative and observational approaches for conducting research. Yet, despite calls that students learn science by doing science as inquiry, students in Australia and internationally have relatively few opportunities to do computational scientific inquiry in ways that mirror computational modeling is being done in research in the physical and biological sciences.

In this talk, we discuss our work on an ARC Discovery project, over the past two years, in which we have developed an agent-based virtual environment consisting of an immersive virtual world for experiencing and exploring a complex ecosystem. The system incorporates predator-prey interactions that are linked to an agent-based modeling tool. We will discuss preliminary findings from a recent study in which Year 9 students in selective and comprehensive classes used the Omosa Virtual World over a two week period to engage in computational scientific inquiry as they learned about experimental design and a predator-prey ecosystem. Our plans for year three research are discussed, as well as implications of this approach to complement the new National Curriculum and enhance science education more generally in Australian schools.

Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. He also is the Co-director of the Centre for Research on Computer-supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) and Deputy Director, Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education. His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning with immersive virtual environments and agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems. In July 2012, he will serve as the Chair of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, which has the conference theme of "the future of learning."

Dr Charlotte Taylor is the Faculty of Science Associate Dean for the Student Experience, and has over 20 years experience in developing and researching first year curricula in biology, for which she received a university excellence award and an ALTC national citation. Her research focuses on an integration of urban ecology, scientific literacy and biodiversity education, and in 2008 was awarded a national Eureka Prize for Environmental Sustainability Education. Current research projects are investigating how students, and schoolchildren, understand difficult biological concepts and cross 'learning thresholds'. She is currently collaborating with Birdlife International, and the Encyclopedia of Life project at Harvard University, to develop learning activities on biodiversity and science inquiry for schools, universities and public education programs.

Time: 4:30-5:30pm (join us from 4pm for light refreshments)

Location: New Law Seminar Room 030

Cost: Free

Email: 235d41382775150a012c0221540022401d1510