Bifocal Modeling

Bifocal Modeling is an inquiry-driven approach to science in which students investigate a real experiment and a computational model in parallel, and compare them in real-time.

 

TEAM MEMBERS

Active Members:
Tamar Fuhrmann
Paulo Blikstein
Engin Bumbacher

Alumni:
Shima Salehi (Stanford University, USA)
Bertrand Schneider (Harvard University, USA)
Andre Luis Alice Raabe (UNIVALI, Brazil)
Ingmar Riedel-Kruse (University of Arizona, USA)

Collaborators:
The majority of the work on Bifocal Modeling Framework is conducted by researchers at the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab, based in Teachers College Columbia University. However, collaborators include faculty and researchers, teachers and others.

  • INDIRE, Italy
  • UNIVALI University of the Itajaí Valley, Itajaí Campus, Brazil
  • Independent Schools Foundation, Hong Kong

Funded by NSF CAREER grant #1055130 and NSF DIP grant #1324753.

 

CONTACT INFO

Tamar Fuhrmann
research@tltlab.org

 

PROJECT DATES

2010 – Ongoing

What Is the Bifocal Modeling Framework?

The bifocal modeling schematic

Figure 1. Bifocal Modeling Framework linking a physical experiment and a computer model.

Bifocal Modeling is an inquiry-driven science learning approach that challenges students to design, compare and examine the relationships between physical experiments and computational models (thus, “Bifocal”). Students explore natural phenomena such as heat diffusion, chemical reactions, and bacterial growth through physical experimentation, computer models, and the comparison of both in real time. Bifocal Modeling also offers students opportunities to design their models and simulations, instead of only interacting with them.

Bifocal Modeling differs from other educational uses of modeling and simulation because it brings in empirical data in real-time, so the comparison with the model is tightly incorporated into the curricular unit. This is different from using lab experiments only for confirmation of theoretical content. The range of classroom possibilities for Bifocal Modeling accommodates many types of activities. In a typical unit, students explore a phenomenon by developing or exploring two parallel implementations: a physical experiment and a computer model connected through a sensor. This design enables students to quickly identify the similarities and differences between the two, which archives two goals: on the content side, they can more readily understand and refine their theories and models. On the meta-modeling side, students can reflect about the nature of models, their limitations and applications, the role of error and error correction, and how scientists create laws and equations based on noisy data.

 

Contents
  1. General Structure and Activities
  2. Timeline of Research and Curriculum Development
  3. Bifocal Modeling Units
  4. Professional Development
  5. Publications

General Structure and Activities

In the Bifocal Modeling Framework (BMF), the physical and computer components are divided into the following sequence of activities:

Bifocal Modeling Activities

  1. Design – Within the scope of the phenomenon under investigation, students formulate the questions they would like to answer, generate testable hypotheses, and design their physical experiments as well as the computer model to be used in conjunction with it. In designing the model, students typically define the possible variables and conceptualise rules or equations to model the phenomenon of interest.
  2. Construct – To determine the nature of the phenomenon under study, students construct an apparatus for their physical experiment and the corresponding computer model.
  3. Interact – Students interact with their physical experiment by collecting data (e.g. with embedded sensors). Similarly, they interact with their computer model by changing its parameters, running the model, observing the results, and recording the data.

A complete Bifocal Modeling activity comprises the use of many different tools and techniques as well as different modes of classroom facilitation, so the application of the framework within a classroom setting may be challenging. In some contexts, to overcome such challenges, curriculum designers and teachers might combine differently real and virtual experimental setups utilizing ready-made or student-designed models. Teachers may select among these combinations to adapt the implementation modality to their particular needs and requirements.

Timeline of Research and Curriculum Development

Since the beginning of the project, TLTLab researchers in partnership with 150 teachers have co-designed, tested and refined Bifocal Modeling units with approximately 1050 students in multiple schools across the USA, Brazil, Hong Kong and Italy.

2013
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Palo Alto, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, high school, 20 students (Stanford, USA) 
  • Newton’s Laws Unit, multi-grade, 5 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 15 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 7th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2014
  • Osmosis Unit, 9th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 5th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 6th grade, 54 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2015
  • Oil Spill Unit, 11th grade, 100 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Oakland, USA)
2016
  • Diffusion  Unit, 9th grade, 25 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 5th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 6th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 11th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
2017 
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Capillarity and Plant Coloring Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Food Calorimetry Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
2018
  • Science Teacher Residency (Hong Kong)
  • Lung Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Eye Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Oral Bacteria Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 150 students (Florence, Italy)
2019
  • Bifocal Residency for researchers (New York City, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 15 teachers (Florence, Italy)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 9 teachers, 125 students (Florence, Italy)
2020
  • Electrical Circuits Unit, 2nd grade, 23 students (Cupertino, USA)
  • Pandemic Spread Unit, 3 teachers, 30 students (Hong Kong)

Bifocal Modeling Units

There are 12 Bifocal Modeling units. Each includes: instructional sequences, activities for students, teacher’s guides, assessment and a computer model. 

Bacterial Growth

Visualization of bacteria growthLearn More

Osmosis and the Naked Egg

Visualization of osmosisLearn More

Oil
Spill
Visualization of an oil spillLearn More
Gas
Laws
Visualization of gas behaviorLearn More
Diffusion with Colors

Visualization of diffusionLearn More

Climate Change in a Bottle
Heat
Transfer
Visualization of ConductionLearn More
Eye Structure and Function Oral
Bacteria
Hydroponic Greenhouse
Visualization of hydroponic plant growthLearn More
Food Calorimetry Capillarity and Plant Coloring

 

Professional Development

We offer two types of professional development:

  1. Bifocal training workshops:
    Bifocal workshop aims to introduce the Bifocal Modeling approach, explore its advantages and implementation routes in classes, and understand how to design Bifocal Modeling curricula. By the end of this workshop, participants will develop a Bifocal Modeling science curriculum unit and have it ready to implement in their classrooms.
  2. Bifocal training residencies:
    The goal of the bifocal residency is to introduce researchers and educators with the Bifocal approach exploring its different components, advantages and limitations. During 5 days residency participants will explore existing units and co-design new Bifocal units in partnership with TLTLab researchers.

 

How Do I Get Involved in a Bifocal Modeling Project?

  • Teacher/educator: We are happy to know that you are interested! We have many options to get you involved. Some examples include: joining a Bifocal workshop, implementing ready-made units, co-design a lesson or unit with a researcher, reading our teachers’ guide book and implementing those in your classroom. 
  • Researcher: Great! This is a great opportunity. You can start by reading a few of our publications. Also, we have a special residency on Bifocal Modeling on site at our Teachers College Columbia University lab. If you are interested, please contact us. [insert contact email]
  • Student: Yes! if you are interested in our research, we would love to have you on board. Please talk with the research team. [insert contact email]
  • Policymaker: We’d be happy to discuss how Bifocal Modeling can help you achieve your goals. We have lots of workshops for teachers and schools administrators. Please, contact us. [insert contact email]

Publications

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. & Blikstein, P. (2020) Identifying discrepant events as a strategy to improve critical thinking about scientific models in a heat transfer unit in middle-school.14th International Conference on the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2020 Nashville, TN.

Soster, T., Fuhrmann, T. and Campos, F. (2020). Mapping Assessment Practices in School Makerspaces. In Proceedings of Fablearn Asia 2020., Bangkok, HK.

Fuhrmann, T. Bar, C., & Bliksein, P. (2020) Fostering Wonderment: Improving Students’ Question-Asking Practice in Science Using Computer Models Connected to Experiments. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Blikstein, P., & Fuhrmann, T. (2020) Bifocal Modeling: Summative Results of Studies Combining Real World Data and Computational Models. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C., Blikstein, P., (2019). Growing Curious Minds: Improving Inquiry Practices and Content Knowledge by Comparing Computational Models to Hands-on Science experiments. Paper for The 14th Chais Conference for the Study of Innovation and Learning Technologies, Open University, Israel.

Fuhrmann, T., Schneider, B., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Should students design or interact with models? Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Investigate Model Construction in High School Science. International Journal of Science Education. 

Fuhrmann, T., Bumbacher, E. W., & Blikstein, P. (2018) Introducing Bifocal Modeling Framework in Elementary School: Learning Science Using Tangible Modeling Tools. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T., Fernandez, C., Hochgreb-Haegele, T., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Professional Development of Science Teachers in Underserved Communities: An Initial Report From the Field. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017). Complex Bifocal model Labs in a Science Class: Combining Computer Models and Real World Data in a Diffusion Unit. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & Raabe, A. (2017).Towards a framework for co-designing complex technology-based science curricula with teachers: an investigation using multiple case study methodology. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017) The link between physical experiment and computer model in a science classroom. Proceedings of the Chais conference for the study of educational technologies, 2017, The Open University, Raanana, Israel.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2016). Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Resolve “Discrepant Events” Between Physical Experiments and Virtual Models in Biology. Journal of Science Education and Technology. 25 (4). 

Salehi, Shima and Schneider, Bertrand and Blikstein, Paulo (2014). The effects of physical and virtual manipulatives on learning basic concepts in electronics. CHl’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 

Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Gears of our childhood: constructionist toolkits, robotics, and physical computing, past and future. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Sipitakiat, Aman and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Interaction design and physical computing in the era of miniature embedded computers. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Chan, Joshua and Pondicherry, Tarun and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). LightUp: an augmented, learning platform for electronics. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Fuhrmann, Tamar and Salehi, Shima and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Meta-modeling knowledge: comparing model construction and model interaction in bifocal modeling. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

 Blikstein, P., Greene, D., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2012). Bifocal Modeling: Combining Real and Virtual Models for Science Learning in a School Setting. Proceedings of the IDC 2012 Conference, Bremen, Germany.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012) Bifocal Biology: Combining Physical and Virtual Labs to Support Inquiry in Biological Systems. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., & Salehi, S. (2012) Bifocal Modeling Workshop. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012). Bifocal Biology: the Link Between Real and Virtual Experiments. Proceedings of the Constructionism 2012 Conference, Athens, Greece.

 

Papers in Preparation: 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & E. W. Bumbacher (in preparation) . Tangible scientific models: Introducing Bifocal Modeling framework in Elementary school.   Journal of Science Education and Technology. 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation) Implementing Bifocal modeling units in the classroom: Challenges and framework. Journal of Science Education and Technology

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation). Thinking like an engineer in first grade: a new model for leveraging engineering expertise. Journal of Engineering Education.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. (in preparation). Learning about heat transfer while developing scientific practices. Journal of Science Education and Technology

 

Book Chapters

Blikstein, Paulo (2014). Bifocal modeling: Promoting authentic scientific inquiry through exploring and comparing real and ideal systems linked in real-lime. Playful user interfaces. Springer Singapore. 317-352.

General Structure and Activities

General Structure and Activities

In the Bifocal Modeling Framework (BMF), the physical and computer components are divided into the following sequence of activities:

Bifocal Modeling Activities

  1. Design – Within the scope of the phenomenon under investigation, students formulate the questions they would like to answer, generate testable hypotheses, and design their physical experiments as well as the computer model to be used in conjunction with it. In designing the model, students typically define the possible variables and conceptualise rules or equations to model the phenomenon of interest.
  2. Construct – To determine the nature of the phenomenon under study, students construct an apparatus for their physical experiment and the corresponding computer model.
  3. Interact – Students interact with their physical experiment by collecting data (e.g. with embedded sensors). Similarly, they interact with their computer model by changing its parameters, running the model, observing the results, and recording the data.

A complete Bifocal Modeling activity comprises the use of many different tools and techniques as well as different modes of classroom facilitation, so the application of the framework within a classroom setting may be challenging. In some contexts, to overcome such challenges, curriculum designers and teachers might combine differently real and virtual experimental setups utilizing ready-made or student-designed models. Teachers may select among these combinations to adapt the implementation modality to their particular needs and requirements.

Timeline of Research and Curriculum Development

Timeline of Research and Curriculum Development

Since the beginning of the project, TLTLab researchers in partnership with 150 teachers have co-designed, tested and refined Bifocal Modeling units with approximately 1050 students in multiple schools across the USA, Brazil, Hong Kong and Italy.

2013
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Palo Alto, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, high school, 20 students (Stanford, USA) 
  • Newton’s Laws Unit, multi-grade, 5 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 15 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 7th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2014
  • Osmosis Unit, 9th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 5th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 6th grade, 54 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2015
  • Oil Spill Unit, 11th grade, 100 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Oakland, USA)
2016
  • Diffusion  Unit, 9th grade, 25 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 5th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 6th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 11th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
2017 
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Capillarity and Plant Coloring Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Food Calorimetry Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
2018
  • Science Teacher Residency (Hong Kong)
  • Lung Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Eye Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Oral Bacteria Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 150 students (Florence, Italy)
2019
  • Bifocal Residency for researchers (New York City, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 15 teachers (Florence, Italy)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 9 teachers, 125 students (Florence, Italy)
2020
  • Electrical Circuits Unit, 2nd grade, 23 students (Cupertino, USA)
  • Pandemic Spread Unit, 3 teachers, 30 students (Hong Kong)

Bifocal Modeling Units

Bifocal Modeling Units

There are 12 Bifocal Modeling units. Each includes: instructional sequences, activities for students, teacher’s guides, assessment and a computer model. 

Bacterial Growth

Visualization of bacteria growthLearn More

Osmosis and the Naked Egg

Visualization of osmosisLearn More

Oil
Spill
Visualization of an oil spillLearn More
Gas
Laws
Visualization of gas behaviorLearn More
Diffusion with Colors

Visualization of diffusionLearn More

Climate Change in a Bottle
Heat
Transfer
Visualization of ConductionLearn More
Eye Structure and Function Oral
Bacteria
Hydroponic Greenhouse
Visualization of hydroponic plant growthLearn More
Food Calorimetry Capillarity and Plant Coloring

 

 

Professional Development

Professional Development

We offer two types of professional development:

  1. Bifocal training workshops:
    Bifocal workshop aims to introduce the Bifocal Modeling approach, explore its advantages and implementation routes in classes, and understand how to design Bifocal Modeling curricula. By the end of this workshop, participants will develop a Bifocal Modeling science curriculum unit and have it ready to implement in their classrooms.
  2. Bifocal training residencies:
    The goal of the bifocal residency is to introduce researchers and educators with the Bifocal approach exploring its different components, advantages and limitations. During 5 days residency participants will explore existing units and co-design new Bifocal units in partnership with TLTLab researchers.

 

How Do I Get Involved in a Bifocal Modeling Project?

  • Teacher/educator: We are happy to know that you are interested! We have many options to get you involved. Some examples include: joining a Bifocal workshop, implementing ready-made units, co-design a lesson or unit with a researcher, reading our teachers’ guide book and implementing those in your classroom. 
  • Researcher: Great! This is a great opportunity. You can start by reading a few of our publications. Also, we have a special residency on Bifocal Modeling on site at our Teachers College Columbia University lab. If you are interested, please contact us. [insert contact email]
  • Student: Yes! if you are interested in our research, we would love to have you on board. Please talk with the research team. [insert contact email]
  • Policymaker: We’d be happy to discuss how Bifocal Modeling can help you achieve your goals. We have lots of workshops for teachers and schools administrators. Please, contact us. [insert contact email]

 

Publications

Publications

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. & Blikstein, P. (2020) Identifying discrepant events as a strategy to improve critical thinking about scientific models in a heat transfer unit in middle-school.14th International Conference on the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2020 Nashville, TN.

Soster, T., Fuhrmann, T. and Campos, F. (2020). Mapping Assessment Practices in School Makerspaces. In Proceedings of Fablearn Asia 2020., Bangkok, HK.

Fuhrmann, T. Bar, C., & Bliksein, P. (2020) Fostering Wonderment: Improving Students’ Question-Asking Practice in Science Using Computer Models Connected to Experiments. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Blikstein, P., & Fuhrmann, T. (2020) Bifocal Modeling: Summative Results of Studies Combining Real World Data and Computational Models. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C., Blikstein, P., (2019). Growing Curious Minds: Improving Inquiry Practices and Content Knowledge by Comparing Computational Models to Hands-on Science experiments. Paper for The 14th Chais Conference for the Study of Innovation and Learning Technologies, Open University, Israel.

Fuhrmann, T., Schneider, B., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Should students design or interact with models? Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Investigate Model Construction in High School Science. International Journal of Science Education. 

Fuhrmann, T., Bumbacher, E. W., & Blikstein, P. (2018) Introducing Bifocal Modeling Framework in Elementary School: Learning Science Using Tangible Modeling Tools. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T., Fernandez, C., Hochgreb-Haegele, T., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Professional Development of Science Teachers in Underserved Communities: An Initial Report From the Field. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017). Complex Bifocal model Labs in a Science Class: Combining Computer Models and Real World Data in a Diffusion Unit. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & Raabe, A. (2017).Towards a framework for co-designing complex technology-based science curricula with teachers: an investigation using multiple case study methodology. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017) The link between physical experiment and computer model in a science classroom. Proceedings of the Chais conference for the study of educational technologies, 2017, The Open University, Raanana, Israel.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2016). Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Resolve “Discrepant Events” Between Physical Experiments and Virtual Models in Biology. Journal of Science Education and Technology. 25 (4). 

Salehi, Shima and Schneider, Bertrand and Blikstein, Paulo (2014). The effects of physical and virtual manipulatives on learning basic concepts in electronics. CHl’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 

Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Gears of our childhood: constructionist toolkits, robotics, and physical computing, past and future. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Sipitakiat, Aman and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Interaction design and physical computing in the era of miniature embedded computers. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Chan, Joshua and Pondicherry, Tarun and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). LightUp: an augmented, learning platform for electronics. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Fuhrmann, Tamar and Salehi, Shima and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Meta-modeling knowledge: comparing model construction and model interaction in bifocal modeling. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

 Blikstein, P., Greene, D., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2012). Bifocal Modeling: Combining Real and Virtual Models for Science Learning in a School Setting. Proceedings of the IDC 2012 Conference, Bremen, Germany.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012) Bifocal Biology: Combining Physical and Virtual Labs to Support Inquiry in Biological Systems. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., & Salehi, S. (2012) Bifocal Modeling Workshop. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012). Bifocal Biology: the Link Between Real and Virtual Experiments. Proceedings of the Constructionism 2012 Conference, Athens, Greece.

 

Papers in Preparation: 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & E. W. Bumbacher (in preparation) . Tangible scientific models: Introducing Bifocal Modeling framework in Elementary school.   Journal of Science Education and Technology. 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation) Implementing Bifocal modeling units in the classroom: Challenges and framework. Journal of Science Education and Technology

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation). Thinking like an engineer in first grade: a new model for leveraging engineering expertise. Journal of Engineering Education.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. (in preparation). Learning about heat transfer while developing scientific practices. Journal of Science Education and Technology

 

Book Chapters

Blikstein, Paulo (2014). Bifocal modeling: Promoting authentic scientific inquiry through exploring and comparing real and ideal systems linked in real-lime. Playful user interfaces. Springer Singapore. 317-352.

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General Structure and Activities

In the Bifocal Modeling Framework (BMF), the physical and computer components are divided into the following sequence of activities:

Bifocal Modeling Activities

  1. Design – Within the scope of the phenomenon under investigation, students formulate the questions they would like to answer, generate testable hypotheses, and design their physical experiments as well as the computer model to be used in conjunction with it. In designing the model, students typically define the possible variables and conceptualise rules or equations to model the phenomenon of interest.
  2. Construct – To determine the nature of the phenomenon under study, students construct an apparatus for their physical experiment and the corresponding computer model.
  3. Interact – Students interact with their physical experiment by collecting data (e.g. with embedded sensors). Similarly, they interact with their computer model by changing its parameters, running the model, observing the results, and recording the data.

A complete Bifocal Modeling activity comprises the use of many different tools and techniques as well as different modes of classroom facilitation, so the application of the framework within a classroom setting may be challenging. In some contexts, to overcome such challenges, curriculum designers and teachers might combine differently real and virtual experimental setups utilizing ready-made or student-designed models. Teachers may select among these combinations to adapt the implementation modality to their particular needs and requirements.

Timeline of Research and Curriculum Development

Since the beginning of the project, TLTLab researchers in partnership with 150 teachers have co-designed, tested and refined Bifocal Modeling units with approximately 1050 students in multiple schools across the USA, Brazil, Hong Kong and Italy.

2013
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Palo Alto, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, high school, 20 students (Stanford, USA) 
  • Newton’s Laws Unit, multi-grade, 5 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Gas Laws Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 15 students (Stanford, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 7th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2014
  • Osmosis Unit, 9th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 5th grade, 56 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Diffusion Unit, 6th grade, 54 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Stanford, USA)
2015
  • Oil Spill Unit, 11th grade, 100 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 5 teachers (Oakland, USA)
2016
  • Diffusion  Unit, 9th grade, 25 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 5th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Climate Change Unit, 6th grade, 50 students (Oakland, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 9th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
  • Bacterial Growth Unit, 11th grade, 28 students (Berkeley, USA)
2017 
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 20 teachers (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Capillarity and Plant Coloring Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
  • Food Calorimetry Unit, 12th grade, 50 students (Itajaí, Brazil)
2018
  • Science Teacher Residency (Hong Kong)
  • Lung Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Eye Structure and Function Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Oral Bacteria Unit, 7th/8th grades, 20 students (Hong Kong)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 150 students (Florence, Italy)
2019
  • Bifocal Residency for researchers (New York City, USA)
  • Science Teacher Workshop, 15 teachers (Florence, Italy)
  • Hydroponic Greenhouse Unit, 9 teachers, 125 students (Florence, Italy)
2020
  • Electrical Circuits Unit, 2nd grade, 23 students (Cupertino, USA)
  • Pandemic Spread Unit, 3 teachers, 30 students (Hong Kong)

Bifocal Modeling Units

There are 12 Bifocal Modeling units. Each includes: instructional sequences, activities for students, teacher’s guides, assessment and a computer model. 

Bacterial Growth

Visualization of bacteria growthLearn More

Osmosis and the Naked Egg

Visualization of osmosisLearn More

Oil
Spill
Visualization of an oil spillLearn More
Gas
Laws
Visualization of gas behaviorLearn More
Diffusion with Colors

Visualization of diffusionLearn More

Climate Change in a Bottle
Heat
Transfer
Visualization of ConductionLearn More
Eye Structure and Function Oral
Bacteria
Hydroponic Greenhouse
Visualization of hydroponic plant growthLearn More
Food Calorimetry Capillarity and Plant Coloring

 

 

Professional Development

We offer two types of professional development:

  1. Bifocal training workshops:
    Bifocal workshop aims to introduce the Bifocal Modeling approach, explore its advantages and implementation routes in classes, and understand how to design Bifocal Modeling curricula. By the end of this workshop, participants will develop a Bifocal Modeling science curriculum unit and have it ready to implement in their classrooms.
  2. Bifocal training residencies:
    The goal of the bifocal residency is to introduce researchers and educators with the Bifocal approach exploring its different components, advantages and limitations. During 5 days residency participants will explore existing units and co-design new Bifocal units in partnership with TLTLab researchers.

 

How Do I Get Involved in a Bifocal Modeling Project?

  • Teacher/educator: We are happy to know that you are interested! We have many options to get you involved. Some examples include: joining a Bifocal workshop, implementing ready-made units, co-design a lesson or unit with a researcher, reading our teachers’ guide book and implementing those in your classroom. 
  • Researcher: Great! This is a great opportunity. You can start by reading a few of our publications. Also, we have a special residency on Bifocal Modeling on site at our Teachers College Columbia University lab. If you are interested, please contact us. [insert contact email]
  • Student: Yes! if you are interested in our research, we would love to have you on board. Please talk with the research team. [insert contact email]
  • Policymaker: We’d be happy to discuss how Bifocal Modeling can help you achieve your goals. We have lots of workshops for teachers and schools administrators. Please, contact us. [insert contact email]

Publications

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. & Blikstein, P. (2020) Identifying discrepant events as a strategy to improve critical thinking about scientific models in a heat transfer unit in middle-school.14th International Conference on the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2020 Nashville, TN.

Soster, T., Fuhrmann, T. and Campos, F. (2020). Mapping Assessment Practices in School Makerspaces. In Proceedings of Fablearn Asia 2020., Bangkok, HK.

Fuhrmann, T. Bar, C., & Bliksein, P. (2020) Fostering Wonderment: Improving Students’ Question-Asking Practice in Science Using Computer Models Connected to Experiments. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Blikstein, P., & Fuhrmann, T. (2020) Bifocal Modeling: Summative Results of Studies Combining Real World Data and Computational Models. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, AERA 2020. San Francisco CA, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C., Blikstein, P., (2019). Growing Curious Minds: Improving Inquiry Practices and Content Knowledge by Comparing Computational Models to Hands-on Science experiments. Paper for The 14th Chais Conference for the Study of Innovation and Learning Technologies, Open University, Israel.

Fuhrmann, T., Schneider, B., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Should students design or interact with models? Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Investigate Model Construction in High School Science. International Journal of Science Education. 

Fuhrmann, T., Bumbacher, E. W., & Blikstein, P. (2018) Introducing Bifocal Modeling Framework in Elementary School: Learning Science Using Tangible Modeling Tools. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T., Fernandez, C., Hochgreb-Haegele, T., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Professional Development of Science Teachers in Underserved Communities: An Initial Report From the Field. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2017), London, England.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017). Complex Bifocal model Labs in a Science Class: Combining Computer Models and Real World Data in a Diffusion Unit. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & Raabe, A. (2017).Towards a framework for co-designing complex technology-based science curricula with teachers: an investigation using multiple case study methodology. Paper will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Antonio, TX, USA.

Fuhrmann, T. & Blikstein, P. (2017) The link between physical experiment and computer model in a science classroom. Proceedings of the Chais conference for the study of educational technologies, 2017, The Open University, Raanana, Israel.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2016). Using the Bifocal Modeling Framework to Resolve “Discrepant Events” Between Physical Experiments and Virtual Models in Biology. Journal of Science Education and Technology. 25 (4). 

Salehi, Shima and Schneider, Bertrand and Blikstein, Paulo (2014). The effects of physical and virtual manipulatives on learning basic concepts in electronics. CHl’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 

Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Gears of our childhood: constructionist toolkits, robotics, and physical computing, past and future. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Sipitakiat, Aman and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Interaction design and physical computing in the era of miniature embedded computers. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Chan, Joshua and Pondicherry, Tarun and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). LightUp: an augmented, learning platform for electronics. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

Fuhrmann, Tamar and Salehi, Shima and Blikstein, Paulo (2013). Meta-modeling knowledge: comparing model construction and model interaction in bifocal modeling. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. 

 Blikstein, P., Greene, D., Fuhrmann, T., & Salehi, S. (2012). Bifocal Modeling: Combining Real and Virtual Models for Science Learning in a School Setting. Proceedings of the IDC 2012 Conference, Bremen, Germany.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012) Bifocal Biology: Combining Physical and Virtual Labs to Support Inquiry in Biological Systems. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Blikstein, P., Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., & Salehi, S. (2012) Bifocal Modeling Workshop. Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Sydney, Australia.

Fuhrmann, T., Greene, D., Salehi, S., & Blikstein, P. (2012). Bifocal Biology: the Link Between Real and Virtual Experiments. Proceedings of the Constructionism 2012 Conference, Athens, Greece.

 

Papers in Preparation: 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. & E. W. Bumbacher (in preparation) . Tangible scientific models: Introducing Bifocal Modeling framework in Elementary school.   Journal of Science Education and Technology. 

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation) Implementing Bifocal modeling units in the classroom: Challenges and framework. Journal of Science Education and Technology

Fuhrmann, T., Blikstein, P. (in preparation). Thinking like an engineer in first grade: a new model for leveraging engineering expertise. Journal of Engineering Education.

Fuhrmann, T., Bar, C. (in preparation). Learning about heat transfer while developing scientific practices. Journal of Science Education and Technology

 

Book Chapters

Blikstein, Paulo (2014). Bifocal modeling: Promoting authentic scientific inquiry through exploring and comparing real and ideal systems linked in real-lime. Playful user interfaces. Springer Singapore. 317-352.