The missing link: A case study of sensing-and-modeling toolkits for constructionist scientific investigation

Author: Blikstein, P. & Wilensky, U.
Year: 2006
Type: Refereed Conference Paper/Poster/Demo (with Proceedings)
Conference/Journal: ICALT 2006

Paulo Blikstein, Uri Wilensky, “The Missing Link: A Case Study of Sensing-and-Modeling Toolkits for Constructionist Scientific Investigation,” Advanced Learning Technologies, IEEE International Conference on, pp. 980-982, Sixth IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT’06), 2006



Multi-agent modeling has been successfully used in several scientific fields, oftentimes transforming scientists’ practice and mindsets. Educational researchers have also realized the potential of this modeling approach for learning. Studies have suggested that students are able to understand concepts above their expected grade level after interacting with curricula developed using multi-agent simulation. However, most multi-agent models are exclusively ‘on-screen’, without connection to the physical world. Real-time model validation and realworld sensing are very challenging to accomplish with extant modeling platforms. As an attempt to address this issue, we designed a technological platform to enable students to seamlessly connect multi-agent models and electronic sensors, in real time. The platform is designed for learners to validate, refine, and debug their computer models using real-world data. This paper focuses on the technical and pedagogical aspects of this project, describing pilot studies which suggest a real-to-virtual reciprocity that catalyzes further inquiry toward deeper understanding.