Sunday, February 28, 2016

VanLehn Blog Post

There is little known about the Zika virus, and there are currently no sufficient models that can truly represent the transmission and spread of the virus. Students can use the information that is currently known about the virus to crest sufficient models that may be useful in fining a better understanding of the virus. "Model construction as a learning activity: a design space and review" by Kurt VanLehn offers many different modeling techniques that can be useful for students to use. The following express my thought perspective on the three models I feel would be particularly helpful in model construction of the Zika virus. 

The first modeling technique that the paper spoke about was a constraint system. VanLehn describes a constraint system as a system that predicts the possible states of the behavior of a system. It is known that mosquitoes infected with the virus are transmitting it to humans in South America. However, little is known about the how the transmission is affected based on different variables. The students can introduce different variables to influence the system, such as removal of ground water. Creating a system-dynamics model can show a  historical aspect. The paper also speaks of an agent-based model, which shows the emergent behavior of a system. This model can be the most effective in understanding the transmission of the virus. All three models can help students understand the virus, offer an explanation of the transmission, and scaffold conversations about possible solutions to control the transmission. It is important to mention that students should explore the many different factors that can be accounted when modeling the virus. 

In my opinion, VanLehn is a slight extension of the Schwarz paper, which showed how teaching students how to model scientific questions or phenomenon can be a progressive endeavor. It is important as science educators that we understand that ensuring that all students are grasping the overall concept of modeling and that we are expressing that there is no right or wrong way to create a model.  

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