Monday, March 28, 2016

Epistemic Games and ADI

Critical-event analysis would work with ADI activities. This model centers on a particular event and attempts to identify the causes that led to that event or the consequences of it. You could pick a scientific event and identify the causes and consequences of it. This could apply to a number of things but what came to mind for an ADI activity is teaching about plant organs. You could show a class celery that have different colors in it’s xylem and phloem and talk through how they think that happened. Then you could do a lab experiment where you put a plant or celery again in colored water and see how it affects water intake. It produces an argumentation session because students may have different theories about how the colors travel through the celery. Then they could do a short write up with correct information about how the xylem and phloem carry nutrients. Students could review each other’s work and then we could wrap up with a discussion about what we learned through critical event analysis and how we identified the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

Aggregate-behavior models could work very well with ADI activities since they are constructed to explain behavior in the physical sciences. This model focuses on processes that have various possible interactions. You could do chemical experiments with this model. Students can come up with possible reactions of chemicals to different chemicals which allows for argumentation. Then you could experiment to see the real reactions. The students could then do a write up about what they observed and why the chemicals might have reacted as they did. Peer review would help if the students accidentally mixed up the chemical with its right reaction or something of that nature. Then you could wrap up and discuss what we observed and why.

epistemic forms and ADI activities

The model types that would work best with ADI activities include the constraint system (which sounds a lot like the scientific method), the trend game, in which one can analyze trends to make predictions, and aggregate behavior models which assume random motion of particles or agents. This is because these models are very useful for designing experiments, and experiment design is one of the central experiences in an ADI activity. Epistemic forms that do not lend well to ADI include lists, hierarchy models, and compare and contrast models. The latter games are better suited for open-ended,exploratory inquiry, and do not pair very well with experimentation.  

One game that would work well with an ADI activity is the “trend game” – here, the classic predator-prey relationship can be explored. The questions for the ADI activity would be something like, “What is the relationship between the wolf population and the deer population? What happens to the wolf population when the deer population decreases?” Students would be able to model this relationship in starlogo nova and make predictions based on the model. They can conduct experiments with the model, They would also use the internet to research aspects of predator-prey relationships.

Another model that would work well for ADI would be the aggregate behavior model. In this model, all particles are assumed to move randomly and interact with each other in different ways under different conditions.  The question for an ADI activity would be “How does osmosis work?” Students would be able to model the movement of water molecules across membranes either with starlogo nova or with a physical model like a glass of water and a semi-permeable membrane like a plastic bag. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

ADI and Model Types

I think that the majority of these models would be useful in ADI activities.  We wouldn’t even need to utilize the full structure of an ADI activity that Sampson and Glein talk about for every single ADI; we could simply structure a normal class day around an ADI activity.  The epistemic games that I don’t think would work well in an ADI activity in biology are cost-benefit analyses (although I could see a derivation of this being useful for understanding fitness in evolution), cross product games, and axiom systems.  I can easily see a use for all the rest of the epistemic games covered in Collins & Ferguson.

An example of an ADI that could lead to students developing models using several different epistemic forms in Collins and Ferguson might look at evolution.  I think that the prompt I used last week to set up an ADI for evolution would work well again, so I’ll copy it in:

Introduction: We have been learning about how evolution can lead to a wide diversity of organisms.  We have also discussed how scientists represent these evolutionary relationships through phylogenetic trees.  However, the ways in which species are related are not always easy to find.  Scientists must evaluate a number of traits when constructing a phylogenetic tree including, but not limited to, physical traits, sequenced genes and proteins (when available), behavior, and the ecological niche each species occupies.

Problem: In 2012, researchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo described a new species of monkey that they named Cercopithecus lomamiensis (described in DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044271).  Construct a model describing your group's hypothesis of the evolutionary relationships between this new species and the following 10 monkey species: XXX (here I would list 10 monkey species, at least 8 of which live in sub-Saharan Africa.  Each species ought to have a Wikipedia page, nothing too obscure.).

Student groups will be allowed (and expected) to use the Internet in class for this project.  They ought to construct phylogenetic trees based on the traits they select.”

In order to encourage students to think about other possible forms of showing evolutionary relationships among species, I would remove the explicit references to phylogenetic trees and simply ask them to describe the evolutionary relationships among these monkey species.  I might expect students to construct phylogenetic trees, a form of tree structure, or use a compare and contrast game, a form and function game, or possibly a multicausal analysis.

Go Matt

I liked how relevant this paper was to our discussions/in class activities for the past few weeks. One part that stood out to me was the aggregate-behavior model. When we were designing a starlogonova model, our group decided to model swarming fish along with their interactions with sharks and fish trawls. In order to best approximate fish swarming behavior, we attempted to use the aggregate behavior model by programming each fish agent to swim close to but not touching other fish of the same species. This individually programmed behavior manifested itself in small schools of fish that would swim around pretty synchronously. This sort of activity could be pretty easily modeled using students as agents. By giving them a specific set of instructions on how to react when interacting with another student, emergent behaviors could be predicted and studied. The benefit of this game is that it requires only the students themselves and a reasonably open space.

In my thermodynamics class, we're going through statistical thermodynamics. Basically, you look at the probability of a given molecule existing in a given energy level, then by figuring out the probability distribution over all energy levels and using that distribution, you could extrapolate some of the macroscopic properties of the system. This seems a little bit harder to examine using ADI given the complex and somewhat abstract nature of statistical thermodynamics, but would be worth considering using as an additional teaching tool.

Another possible analysis method I could use in ADI is cause and effect. I could have students look examine different reactions under different conditions and examine how fast the reactions occur. This would require ways to analyze reaction speeds (probably visually or thermometrically), ways to change experimental conditions (pressure chamber, hot plate, mortar and pestle for surface area dependent reactions), and obviously the chemical reactants and hardware necessary to carry out the reactions.

Epistemic Games in ADI

Collins and Ferguson detail a list of epistemic games in their article Epistemic Forms and Epistemic Games: Structures and Strategies to Guide Inquiry most of which are easily incorporated into ADI activities. The easiest application of epistemic games into ADI are into production of a tentative argument and the argumentation session. Epistemic games according to Collins and Ferguson are "for analyzing phenomena" (25). Games such as list-making, compare-contrast, cost-benefit analysis, primitive element analysis, and tables are all good strategies for breaking down or compiling scientific data from laboratory experiments, an integral part of ADI.

The article addresses that primitive-element is an inherent strategy in modern Chemistry, and thus I think it along with table making are two games which can be easily implemented into an ADI activity concerning chemical composition based on flame tests. The overarching question given to students would be what are ways to determine what elements are present in solutions? I believe this is a good ADI activity because the fact that different chemicals create different colors makes it a visual intriguing experiment that should get the students excited about the lab. The students could complete flame tests on an array of chemical solutions and write down all of their observations in a table format.  Students could then dissect each solution into its anion and cation component to try and figure out which component affects the resulting color. To increase the level of difficulty of the experiment, students could also be given unknowns and have to determine which ions make up that solution. After completing the experiment, different groups could meet to discuss their results in a mini tentative argument session. Consequently, students could be asked to create finalized tables organized based on the ion which effects color change in their investigation report.

This ADI activity would be most beneficial if placed in a unit on physical and chemical properties, so that at the end of the unit students could again create a list or a compare/contrast diagram of different factors and categorize them as a physical or chemical property. To complete this experiment students will already have to have an understanding of cations and anions and how they can combine to make solutions with different properties. The nice part of this activity is that students do not need to be given a lot of material or research to complete it.

Brian epistemic

I thought this week's paper is a good extension that summarizes the different types of modeling activity that we could do when doing ADI with students. Two of them that really applies well to ADI are aggregate-behavior and trend/cyclical analysis. Aggregate-behavior model involves analyzing emergent behavior arising from individual players that more or less act independently according to a set of internal rules. This is suitable to analyze physical phenomena such as the behavior of gases, which is affected the the actions of individual molecules. It ca also be used for biology/ecology, such as predator/prey and disease spread models that we have seen. For a class using ADI, I think using agent-based modeling using computer programming is very suitable, since students could focus at first on coming up with rules and constraints that govern the behavior of individual elements, and then see if a desired behavior emerges from those factors. A trend/cyclical analysis is more often seen in history and economics, where a set of variables is analyzed over time. I think it's useful in ADI because of its focus on prediction and extrapolation of data. I think student would benefit more in the math department if we use trend/cyclical analysis. I don't think any particular epistemic game is unsuitable for ADI, because all of them require logical thinking, data analysis, prediction, and modeling. Even the two I liked the most can be seen as interconnected, because trend analysis certainly can be derived from aggregate-behavior analysis.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bottorff Epistemic Forms & ADI

Epistemic forms as described by Collins and Ferguson actually lend themselves very well to ADI; epistemic forms guide inquiry and epistemic games allow analysis of phenomena, which are both major focuses of ADI activities. Two model types (epistemic forms) that would work well with an ADI unit on diffusion are aggregate-behavior models and constraint systems. Aggregate-behavior models work well for molecules, such as water diffusing in osmosis, that move randomly until interactions upon colliding with other molecules or barriers. Constraint systems involves holding most variables constant while manipulating a single variable to determine its role in a system. In a possible ADI activity centered on diffusion (i.e. driven by the question: why do molecules spread out in a container?), an aggregate-behavior model and a constraint system could work well together in an agent-based model, for example on StarLogo Nova.

I would provide students with resources on the paths of molecules (i.e. assumed to be straight lines until collisions) most likely from derivations for the kinetic theory of gases which could serve as an example of diffusion (since gas diffusion is no different than diffusion of molecules in a liquid besides the different phases). I could also provide a simple base model if I thought that students would struggle with creating an agent-based model. To factor in constraints, students could explore diffusion of water, osmosis, across a permeable barrier. The single changing variable could be the number of water molecules on a single side of the barrier. Alternatively, students could investigate the effects of adding a salt, the changing variable now being the salt concentration on a single side, that interacts differently with the semi-permeable membrane (unable to cross). In this way, students can study the effects of varying concentrations of salt and/or water molecules in a simple agent-based diffusion model.

With respect to activities and more resources that I could provide for students, I could ask students to treat think of this model using the analogy of playing pool, where balls ricochet off of each other but otherwise travel in straight lines. I could also ask students to consider the effects of the second law of thermodynamics which brings entropy into consideration. This law states that disorder in the universe increases or at least remains constant during cyclical processes. Perhaps confusing at first for high school students, this law can help them understand how entropy is the driving force behind diffusion, for the greatest entropy state is the one with the most disorder, i.e. the one with equal concentrations of certain molecules on either side of a membrane. It would be beneficial to incorporate this resource to help students avoid confusion about the cause of this phenomenon.

I don't think any of these model types don't work well for ADI activities; I simply wouldn't gravitate towards some models because of their more common use in social sciences, for instance, but they could definitely be well suited to ADI activities in softer sciences.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thomas Plaxco Epistemic Game Post

In a very general sense, given how broad models can be, I think most of these epistemic games can be applied to something, and by extension, useful in an ADI activity (at least to some extent).  With that being said, I think some forms of epistemic games may be somewhat more useful to me in a personal form; as the article stated, certain epistemic games are used most commonly in certain academic contexts such as the prevalence of problem-centered analysis in the field of history.  In that sense, the kind of epistemic games available to us as educators I think is limited by our imagination and bu subject matter. 
In a more personal sense, since I am focused on the field of chemistry, I think there are certainly more useful forms of epistemic games regarding ADI activities I might incorporate into the classroom.  In particular, I focused on the overall "field" of process analysis.  Aggregate-behavior analysis was a particularly interesting subset, as it happened to reflect my planned final project.  Another epistemic game I found interesting was trend analysis, and an example of the practical application of each can be found below.

Aggregate-Behavior Analysis
The behavior of reactions is commonly taught in an abstract sense; reactants interact to form products.  Such explanations are frequently accompanied by discussions of equilibrium, temperature, kinetic energy, activation energy, and so on, but these are treated as macroscopic properties.  The task of a potential ADI project then, is to investigate how these variables influence behavior on an individual particle level, and then to extend that to the behavior of the system.  Outside of a greater understanding of reactions, an implicit educational goal of this project is for students to realize that the behavior of a system is nothing more than a compilation of its individual pieces; oftentimes, particles are on such a small scale that students do not think of particles as individuals.

Students would be provided with guided research provided by the teacher that discusses the role various factors may play in reaction dynamics (ex.- a paper on collision theory).  This research should provide explanations on both a macro and microscopic level.  Students should then begin to think about the logistics of how an individual particles may create the aggregate behavior observed by chemists (for example, the temperature of a sample of a gas).

Trend Analysis
In a somewhat similar vein to the above example, I think it is important for students to understand that chemical rules, and indeed, most scientific "laws" are trends that have been very consistently observed.  An ADI using this could be applied in almost any chemical concept, as trends themselves form the foundation for most of our instruction in chemistry.  For simplicity's sake, we can apply this concept of trend analysis to the ADI above, albeit somewhat modified.  In this ADI, the objective of the student is to determine salient factors in the initiation, propagation, and speed of a reaction.

Students would be provided with experimental data (as accurate measuring equipment can be troublesome to obtain sometimes) of industrial reactions.  The job of the student would then be to incorporate the data given into their own theory of how reactions function, with a focus on graph creation/analysis.  Students would identify present trends in reaction dynamics as a method to "prove" what variables influence reactions and how.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Epistemic Games, John Skinner

One epistemic form that I thought would work with with ADI activities is a form and function analysis. This type of model asks students to determine a goal, and then analyze biological properties, behaviors, features, and functions that can enable or constrain said outcome. This model lends itself particularly well to analyzing trophic levels in biological ecosystems, which is required by Tennessee state standards. Students should be able to analyze how changes in behaviors, resources, and populations at various trophic levels can effect the rest of a food web; thus, a form and function analysis could be a useful tool for helping students think critically about a multitude of causes and effects that influence a food web at various levels. An ADI question could be something along the lines of researching a sample food web (i.e. crickets, frogs, and snakes). If an environment becomes increasingly too arid for local frogs to survive, how does this affect the food web?

Resources: Students would first be given hand-picked internet and journal articles about arid environments and frog/snake behavior in that climate. Based on the research, students would have a better understanding of the underlying biological behaviors and conditions that affect their food web. From this research, students could create an agent-based model in StarLogo Nova and use their model to answer the ADI driving question.

I also believe that cause and effect analyses, which asks students to consider a sequence of events and the causes/effects of said events, could be an intriguing application of epistemic games in a biology classroom. This could be useful with respect to topics that have medical applications, since many diseases are results of a gradual chain of events over time. An ADI question could go something along the lines of: “A 52-year-old man complains of stiffness in his arms and legs and occasional shakiness in his jaw and cheekbones. He has noticed recently that his speech occasionally slurs, and he feels like he suddenly has less control over his handwriting. He generally tries to live an active lifestyle, and he used to run three miles every morning before work. However, due to recent movement and balance problems, he has had to stop exercising. He is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Based on research, how do you think the Parkinson’s disease mechanism works?”

Resources: To prevent kids from simply Googling answers, they will be provided with a scholarly article about how protein misfolding can lead to PD, an article describing possible genes involved in PD, and an interactive computational model that allows students to manipulate protein folding in different permutations/environments. Since they will have already studied DNA replication, transcription, and translation before this activity, students will use their prior knowledge and the resources given to hypothesize how small events in the process of protein synthesis can potentially contribute to Parkinson’s disease.

While there are benefits to each of these epistemic games, I believe that certain games lend themselves toward ADI activities more effectively than others. For example, structural analyses may have initial utility, as they can help students decompose certain phenomena or behaviors into underlying characteristics. From this decomposition, students will gain an appreciation for the assumptions that lay the foundation for certain biological events; however, they seem to do little towards actually solving an ADI question. Thus, while structural analyses may be a useful first step when solving a problem, I think that functional and causal analyses will help students more actively explore not only what elements of a problem they need to address, but also how they should address them.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


What kind of models or activity ideas from Van Lehn do you think would be important to incorporate when having students model Zika?
First of all, as VanLehn clearly outlined, it is very important to have students engage in model construction rather than simply model exploration. Construction involves actively "debugging" the model and becoming familiar with its language, whereas exploring a model does not make a student engage with it as deeply. 
A good model that could be incorporated into a Zika Virus lesson plan would involve scaffolding on the part of the teacher, or "sophisticated systems that give feedback and hints to the students" (page 20). That is, while the student is creating their original model, the teacher can tutor, clarify the language, and introduce more complex problems to solve. For example, this model could be  a qualitative systems-constraint model, such as a node-link diagram constructed using a program like Betty's brain. Each box or variable is given certain parameters, and the diagram can answer questions such as "If we increase the variable of standing water, what will happen to the variable of infected humans that travel?" Students can construct their model and assess how well it answers questions of varying complexity, and make adjustments as necessary. Scaffolding comes into play when the program being used asks students thought-provoking questions about their model, or the teacher clarifies the meaning and purpose of certain variables. 
In a qualitative systems constraint model, it is essential for students to construct their own models and maybe compare them with those of their peers. If the same model of the Zika virus were created by the instructor and simply presented to the student to figure out, the student might not grasp the processes of deciding which variables are important, and the language of the program, and would not be able to create similar models in the future. VanLehn made a very good point that although model construction may cost more- in time and money- on the outset, the gains made for the students are well worth it in the long run. 
Of course, another model proposed by VanLehn would be an agent-based model, using a program such as NetLogo or StarLogo Nova. What stood out to me in the VanLehn piece that would be integral to creating an effective Zika virus model is whether or not the model is executable. Does the model predict the behavior of the system? Moreover, can the student'smodel make such predictions without making false assumptions about natural events? In other words, in an agent-based model, students should strive to create predictive models while also examining/understanding the "underlying mechanisms" that go into the model rather than "tweaking" the model so that it gives them an answer they would like to see (page 17). 
My main takeaway from VanLehn is that the active construction of models with interacting variables can be a very enriching experience for students is they engage in thoughtful practices and are assisted by various scaffolding techniques by both the instructor and the program or language chosen by the instructor.

ADI for the Ideal Gas Law.

In the EOC Chemistry exam, there's a question that involves the relationship between temperature and volume of an ideal gas. Investigation into this relationship would be a good way of opening up discussion on Charles's Law, Boyle's Law, and the Ideal Gas Law.

Identification of Task
I would begin this ADI by reviewing definitions of volume and temperature and how they're measured. This would be designed to give students ideas for their experimental design. I would also ensure that students are familiar with the SI units involved. I would also make sure students understand the difference between real gases and ideal gases.

Generation of Data:
At this point I would divide the students into three or four groups. Each group would be assigned a specific aspect of the ideal gas law. For example, one group might be tasked with studying the difference between temperature and volume, while another group might examine the relationship between pressure and volume. A third group could be tasked with examining the relationship between moles and volume. Each of these three groups would be given a good bit of time in class to discuss ways to explore these relationships. Hopefully the students will be able to design experiments that remain within the realm of practicality for the classroom setting. If not, I will be moving from group to group and will be able to guide the students in the right direction. Once they come up with a solid experimental design, I will provide the materials they need (which I will hopefully have, provided I am able to successfully guide their experimental design) and they can get going.

Production of Tentative Argument:
From here, I would have students sit down in their groups and collaboratively summarize their experimental results and provide conclusions derived from the data they obtained. They would also discuss the sources of error for their experiments and discuss how real gas behavior might make experimental data more difficult to gather. I will also make sure that each student has their own copy of their work.

Peer Review:
Once each group has been given enough time to draw conclusions and discuss their results, I'll split each group up and form new heterogeneous groups such that each new group has one or members of each old group. Within each group, each member will be required to present their own data and how they found it. If possible, other group members are encouraged to ask questions regarding their method or their results. Each group is also required to come up with one way they could improve upon their experiment (since this part is hypothetical, there is little to no need to bring in resource constraints).

Reflective Discussion:
Back in large group, we will together examine the relationships between all of the above properties, hopefully deriving something similar to the ideal gas law. We could also try and derive R from all the values they got, but given experimental constraints as well as the deviation of real gases from ideal gas behavior, it may be an exercise in futility. We could also use the volume temperature relationship to derive absolute zero, but again, given the behavior of real gases, it may not yield much. That said, once ideal gases are covered, this experiment could be brought up again, and the inaccuracies in our data could be used to strengthen students' understanding of real and ideal gases.

Monday, March 14, 2016

ADI for Types of Dominance in Alleles

In one EOC Biology practice exam, I found a problem that asked students the probability of offspring having a certain phenotype if two of the alleles in the parental cross were incompletely dominant. The question asked, "What is the probability of producing a white rose when a red rose and a pink rose are crossed?"
Identification of Task: The introduction would include a review of the definition of genotype, phenotype, allele, and dominant vs. recessive alleles, and present the problem of a test cross between two flowers whose phenotypes are known, but whose genotypes are unknown.
Generation of Data: The students could work in pairs to hypothesize and test their theories on types of dominance. Since it would be impractical and time consuming to actually perform these test crosses, a computer simulation website, such as Virtual Genetics Lab, could be utilized. A program such as this is a perfect example of how students can actively construct models by deciding which flowers to cross from which generations based on their supposed genotypes.                        

Production of Tentative Argument: The next phases would include pairs or groups using white boards to sketch out pedigrees of their test crosses from the VGL, which provides a visual aid, and constructing arguments on the answer to the questions presented at the beginning of the class. Virutal Genetics lab has problems to work out that include incomplete, complete, and codominance- the students could construct explanations defending their decisions about which problems display which type of dominance.
Argumentation, Investigation Report, and Peer Review: a good portion of the class time could be spent by students sharing their whiteboards and their explanations with other groups, which allows them to defend and critique each other's methods. For example, one group may perform several blind test crosses and interpret the results afterward, wheras another group might find it more efficient to true breed certain genotypes so that they are aware of homozygocity vs. heterozygocity before they perform the final test cross.
Peer review, revision, and reflective discussion: These steps are critical in an Argument Driven Inquiry model to ensure that all students understand the very complex concepts involved in the hereditary basis of genetics, such as dominance and probability.


    Number 12 on page 12 of Biology I Form 5, on heredity, says "Hemophilia is a sex-linked genetic disease. If a male with hemophilia and a homozygous normal female have a female child, what is the probability that the child with be a carrier for hemophilia?"
    For identification of task for a hereditary lesson I would first make connections between past and present lessons to get the students thinking about what they already know about genes and how that knowledge applies to this new lesson. I then would give a handout with a brief introduction and researchable question to answer or task to complete. I could use the exact question from the TCAP because that if a good problem to get the students thinking about genetic connections.
    For generation of data, I would allow group work in order to work through the question. I would steer students in a productive direction by giving them "getting started" instructions, such as make a family tree, or a pedigree analysis. I would walk around to answer questions. I would also ask probing questions such as "do you have enough information to support your ideas?" Asking thought provoking questions would provide opportunities to try, fail, and try again which is essential to learning.
    Next, for production of tentative argument, I would allow time for each group to share their ideas with class. I would give chart paper or allow writing on the white board in order for the group to be able to provide their justifiable evidence for the whole class to see. Through discussion and explantion, students would be able to determine what is relevant, evaluate competing ideas, and throw out what they don't need.
    For the interactive argumentation session the students will be able to further negotiate and adopt more explanations. This session would expose students to different perspectives and interpretations which would then spark new ideas and allow for more modifications.
    Then the class would create a written investigation report. In this they can explain why they got what they got by explaining the interactions within a pedigree depending on sex linked genes, recessive linked or dominant linked inheritance. This would help them understand that writing is important in science, because others in scientific community can use their work to help solve other cases. They would have to answer "what did you do and why? what is your argument? What did you find and why?" and writing down those answers would help the students organize their thoughts.
    Then I would allow for the double blind peer review where three or four people read other peer's labs. Other peoples perspectives on what is important and what was touched on too much or not enough. In this case, if the student didn't talk about specifically sex linked inheritance, that error could be caught and corrected through peer review.
    Next would be the revision process where students could improve writing and understand what is important to include in a final lab.

    Finally the reflective round table discussion would allow the whole class to come together and talk about what they learned through this process. We could think of ways students could improve their methods as well as consider other scenarios that deal with inheritance.

McMullen- ADI: Biology and interdependence

The topic I think would work well for an ADI experience is trophic cascades. Trophic cascades are addressed by Performance Indicator 3210.2.1, which states "predict how population changes of organisms at different tropic levels affect an ecosystem". This performance indicator is covered by questions 1, 2, 23, 24, and 25 on the EOC Item Sampler for Biology Form 3. 

Step 1: Introduction:

Introduction: So far we have discussed population changes in trophic levels with respect to an organism decreasing in numbers; however, population changes in trophic levels can pertain to an organism increasing in numbers as well. As an example, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were commonly found throughout the forests in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan (the U.P.) before being hunted to near extinction in the mid 1900s. With a such a small population of wolves, their natural prey, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), experienced a boom in the population. The increase in white-tailed deer shifted the composition and structure of the plant community in the northern forests. Due to protection in recent decades from the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves have begun to naturally recolonize parts of Wisconsin and the U.P. and have an impact on the organisms living there.

The Problem: You are a scientist that works for the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin. In December 2014, gray wolves were re-listed as endangered, and since the re-listing, there has been significant backlash from the community (especially farmers and hunters). As a response to the backlash, the Wisconsin DNR has scheduled town hall meetings across the state in the hopes of educating people about changes in trophic levels in an ecosystem. Your boss wants you to create a model to present and a write-up to handout at the town hall meetings that explain the effect of wolves on the forest community in Wisconsin. 

Step 2: Laboratory-based experience:

Because this prompt deals with changes happening over a long period of time and with large animals that can be difficult to track, it makes sense that they would not be collecting data but would be analyzing data instead. Students will have access to the internet, print outs of scientific papers, and books. Students will design a brief investigation proposal and will then be able to use the available resources to gather necessary information. Students will be provided an abundance of information which may or may not be relevant given the way they decide to design their model.

In the specific task outlined above, students would need to collect data on what a food web looks like in that ecosystem and which organisms occupy which trophic levels. They would also need to collect data on how populations of those organisms have changed over time (with specific date stamps to correlate to wolf population changes). Students might also research why farmers and hunters are specifically opposed to the protection of gray wolves.

Step 3: Production of a tentative argument:

Because the task specifically asks students to design a model, this will be part of their argumentation stage. They can design any model they think would be effective at communicating the information they deem is necessary. In addition to creating a model, students will have to develop an explanation, evidence, and reasoning in this stage that is relevant to the model and the decisions they made.

For the specific task mentioned above, students could create a multitude of models. They could create a computational agent-based model. They could create a pen and paper model. They could do an embodied modeling activity. They could focus on the effects of the recolonization by wolves or they could focus on the effects of the boom in deer. The main component of this step is what evidence the students choose to use and what they choose to leave out as a result of the model they are creating as well as why they are choosing to create that model.

Step 4: Argumentation session:

During the argumentation section, students will present their models and arguments to the rest of the class in a round-robin format as discussed in Sampson and Gleim. The students will ask questions and critique specific aspects to push their peers to deeper thought and analysis about the decisions they made in the construction of their models. The variety of models presented and the difference in focus will challenge students and grow their learning.

With the specific task provided to the students, I would expect to see a wide variety of types of models and a wide variety of angles to the model. I would be very surprised to see two models that looked very similar because the students could run a lot of different directions with the information provided.

Step 5: Investigation report:

After the argumentation sessions, students will be expected to create a write-up of their investigation, model, and argument. This will challenge students to learn how to write scientifically and to recognize the importance of writing as a method of communication in science.

With the task provided, I would expect there be a significant portion of the investigation report justifying the decisions made in the direction taken with the investigation. 

Step 6: Double-blind peer review

Students will review one another's write-ups with a copy of a standardized rubric. They will not know who they are evaluating or who is evaluating them, so each student receives the best possible feedback and provides the best possible feedback. After evaluating each report, the evaluator will decide if the the report needs to be revised or is acceptable as is. This continues to push students to think deeply about the content they are covering.

Step 7: Revision of the report

Step 8: Reflection/Discussion:

Students will have a round-table discussion that allows them to reflect on the experience they had with ADI and to discuss what they have learned from the experience. The connection between ADI and the process scientists go through in their work can be made explicit here, and the teacher can answer any questions students still have.

ADI: biology and osmosis

This activity is based on Question 17 of the Biology I Form 1 EOC, which uses potato mass to relate to diffusion through solution concentrations relative to the potato.

In developing the correct answer to this question, students must demonstrate knowledge of the topic (diffusion), the process (two interacting systems with varying solution differences) and the molecular interactions behind the outcomes. This type of system is basic enough to understand while still preserving a level of fundamental complexity that lends itself toward the ADI model in any classroom.

Step 1: Identification

  • Give the setup for the problem. Include the materials (potatoes, different concentrations of glucose solutions, a timer, etc) and the concepts behind the problem (what diffusion is, vocabulary like hypo/hyper/isotonic, what water uptake in the potato looks like (increased mass), and relevant examples in daily life pertaining to diffusion -- like not drinking saltwater when you're dehydrated, or the smell of perfume in the air, and so on.
Step 2: Generation of data

  • Students use their knowledge of potato mass in determining water uptake to quantify the concentration gradient for a particular solution. This involves massing the potatoes before and after immersion in the given concentrations. Strong investigation should pay attention to significant figures and proper massing.
Step 3: Production of a Tentative Argument

  • Students analyze their quantified data by ascribing a relationship between variables -- that is, solution concentration and potato mass. They delve deeper into the interaction and recognise that the potato mass is merely a vehicle for the water uptake, then further demonstrate understanding by explaining the relationship between water uptake and rate of diffusion, using vocabulary terms. Models such as diagrams, charts, and pictures can be used in the visual presentation to help facilitate understanding and support their argument.
Step 4: Interactive Argumentation Session

  • The class splits into the "round robin" model of group discussions, focusing on individual groups' interpretations of data and what discrepancies and similarities exist in method and analysis between different groups. Students come back to their own groups and devise a better method or more involved analysis toward understanding the problem.
Step 5: Creation of a Written Investigative Report

  • Transcribe the findings and methods of the experiment into a readable report, also highlighting problem areas (proper tool use), room for error (inexact measurements), suggestions for a better experiment next time (control for temperature of solution), and practical applications for the understanding of the problem, just to give a few examples.
Step 6-7: Double-blind peer review, revision

  • Spend time qualitatively analyzing other groups' reports through the checklist. Identify areas that need to be clarified or better organized, and read to be sure their argument on the relationship between potato mass and solution concentration stands on their evidence alone. Revise toward those standards and continue to strive toward a strong, clear argument.
Step 8: Reflective discussion

  • This is where the entire class will come together and contribute personal findings and thoughts on not just the problem, but the way the class conducted discussions together throughout the interactive processes of argument and report review. Moreover, the teacher can facilitate discussion about the practical relevance of diffusion, further cementing the utility in experimental modeling and why understanding a topic matters. The students should finish the ADI process with a better comprehension of the scientific material and the model used to promote inquiry, discussion, and review.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

ADI for the microscopic world

When trying to come up with a single idea that follows the reading by Sampson and Gleim about argument driven inquiry, I struggled. I wanted to pick 7th grade because that is what I ideally want to teach. I know that 7th grade science standards include the initial introduction for students to cells and cell division. I found it difficult to come up with ADI experiments that are student inquiry based but then I realized it was kind of the best way for students to understand microscopic processes. When you are trying to teach students about microscopic things I think the first thing they need to understand is how we are able to see these things. I would want my students to create their own microscopes out of household items, magnifying glasses, drops of water, anything to get the students thinking about how to magnify things. Then I would introduce the idea of cells and question what they thought an individual cell needs. Get them to think critically about what processes a cell would need to survive- energy, a barrier, reproduction, a brain, etc. I would introduce the organelles back to them in their own words. Once all the organelles were taught I would divide the students into groups and pose a question about what analogies to cells the students could come up with. I would promote model building to increase the students understanding of cellular organelles by equating them with a system they already understand. The students could present their models to the class and discuss how each model was comparable to a cell.

Next I would teach cell division. This time the students would be familiar with microscopes and I would give them a lab to look at different slides as well as make a few slides of their own. They could look at their cheek cells or hair. Ultimately I could try and get the students to logically organize the steps of cell division. The students would submit a lab report explaining their thought process for why they ordered the stages the way they did. I would want the students to identify that different things were happening in the cells and through inquiry and critical thinking defend their answers. This could nicely lead into teaching about DNA replication or cell organization into higher tissue systems. All of these topics are easily taught through ADI. I think biology lends nicely to this mode of teaching. I think this method of teaching is a strong tool and greatly increases a student’s ability to retain the information.      

An ADI activity for exploring evolution

The objective of this activity is to get students to think about and understand how to develop models of evolution (TN State Standards being met: 5.5, 5.6).  Students will do this activity in groups of 3.

Introduction: We have been learning about how evolution can lead to a wide diversity of organisms.  We have also discussed how scientists represent these evolutionary relationships through phylogenetic trees.  However, the ways in which species are related are not always easy to find.  Scientists must evaluate a number of traits when constructing a phylogenetic tree including, but not limited to, physical traits, sequenced genes and proteins (when available), behavior, and the ecological niche each species occupies.

Problem: In 2012, researchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo described a new species of monkey that they named Cercopithecus lomamiensis (described in DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044271).  Construct a model describing your group's hypothesis of the evolutionary relationships between this new species and the following 10 monkey species: XXX (here I would list 10 monkey species, at least 8 of which live in sub-Saharan Africa.  Each species ought to have a Wikipedia page, nothing too obscure.).

Student groups will be allowed (and expected) to use the Internet in class for this project.  They ought to construct phylogenetic trees based on the traits they select.

ADI activity

This ADI activity was inspired by an item on the EOC practice test that asked students to analyze a graph showing the yearly photosynthetic activity in a lake.

Identification of a task – resolve a problem or make sense of a problem
Students will be given the following problem:
Over the last two weeks, we learned about photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Photosyntehsis and respiration is not just survival mechanism for individual organisms, they also have an effect on the surrounding environment. Use the information from previous lessons and conduct some independent research to solve the problem below.
The problem:
Nashville is well known for its abundance of streams, creeks, rivers and (man-made) lakes, and recently the health of these waterways has degraded. Among other problems, stormwater runoff has contributed to an excess of nutrients and pollutants. A lack of oxygen in the water is another problem. Besides striving to maintaining the overall health of its waterways, Nashville is funding research on ways to keep the waterways clean as well as save the endangered Nashville crayfish. You are a scientist working for the city of Nashville. You are measuring the photosynthetic activity of Nashville’s lakes and rivers throughout the year as part of a larger investigation into the overall health of the waterways. You would like to find out whether photosynthetic activity changes throughout the year. You already know that photosynthetic activity can have an effect on pH levels in the lake, and it is important to make sure that the water stays within a safe pH range for organisms. With your colleagues, design an investigation that answers the following questions:
1. Does photosynthetic activity change throughout the year? If so, what causes the change in photosynthetic activity?
2. Can photosynthetic activity affect pH levels?  Use your investigation to make some recommendations to the city’s environmental program.
Laboratory based experience/generation of data
Students will form small groups and design an experiment that answers the questions. They may use the internet to investigate ways to measure photosynthetic activity, etc. Students will need to create a model for their investigation which they can later validate by collecting data in the field (a field trip to a nearby creek will be arranged).  
Generation of a tentative argument
Students will use big whiteboards to generate a tentative argument form the evidence collected. They will divide the white board into four parts to guide their argument. On the white board, they will identify: 1) the goal of their investigation; 2) their explanation and 3) Their evidence and reasoning.
The interactive argumentation session
Groups will set up their whiteboards around the room and using a “round-robin” format, students will provide each other feedback on their arguments.
Creation of a written investigation report
 Students will write a report that is divided into three parts in which they answer the questions: 1) What were you trying to do and why? 2) What did you do and why? 3) What is your argument? Students will include figures in their report.
Peer review
Students will conduct a double blind peer review. They will use a checklist to guide their feedback.

Students will write a final draft of their report.