I am involved in an Institute of Educational Sciences project with Seward Incorporated out of Minneapolis. We are currently building a simulation to support a Model Eliciting Activity (MEA). MEAs are predominantly used in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematic). Here is a good read on how MEAs have been used. In short, these are activities that force students to build mathematical models based on real world problems.
Check out these sample MEAs:
In short, we are building simulations to support MEAs. Currently we are building a simulation using Croquet. This is an open source technology that allows the user to create interactive 3D worlds. The current simulation is based on a paper airplane MEA. In this MEA students need to create a judging model for what makes a paper airplane a best floater, the fastest plane, most loops, the most accurate, etc, With this MEA it is impossible for teachers to replicate a data set in class. But in a simulated environment, teachers can replicate a throw over and over! Below is a screenshot of our current project:
In this environment students will be able to:
- Launch and relaunch flights
- Chat with other students
- Compare and contrast flight paths
- Change angle from judges table to top view, to sideline view.
- Interact with the flight data using a measurement tool.
- Be able to monitor all students in the environment
- Give feedback and probe using the chat function
We are working on the laboratory now. In that environment, students will be more interactive and will be able to play with the angle, the force, height, and plane choice to determine its impact on the flight.
If you had any experiences using / building simulations to support mathematical problem solving skills, please comment! If you know of anyone else doing this kind of work, we would love to hear about it!