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Title: Berta's Tower: Developing Conceptual Physics Understanding One Exploratoid at a Time
Authors: Svarovsky, Gina Navoa
Shaffer, David Williamson
Issue Date: Jun-2006
Publisher: International Society of the Learning Sciences
Citation: Svarovsky, G. N. & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Berta's Tower: Developing Conceptual Physics Understanding One Exploratoid at a Time. In Barab, S. A., Hay, K. E., & Hickey, D. T. (Eds.), The International Conference of the Learning Sciences: Indiana University 2006. Proceedings of ICLS 2006, Volume 2 (pp. 751-757). Bloomington, Indiana, USA: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
Abstract: In this paper we describe a study that investigates whether--and how--authentic recreations of engineering practices can help students develop conceptual understanding of physics. We focus on the design-build-test cycle used by professional engineers in simulation- based rapid modeling. In this experiment, middle school students worked for 10 hours to solve engineering design challenges using SodaConstructor--a Java-based microworld--as a simulation environment. As a result of the experiment, students learned about center of mass. Our data further suggest that in the process of simulation-based modeling, rapid iterations of the design- build-test cycle progressively linked students' interest in the design activities and understanding of the concept of center of mass. We suggest that these rapid iterations of the design-build-test cycle functioned as exploratoids: short fragments of exploratory action in a microworld that cumulatively develop interest in and understanding of important scientific concepts.
Appears in Collections:ICLS 2006

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