BioGraph is a collaborative, research-based design project created by the Scheller Teacher Education Program and the Graduate School of Education at UPenn. BioGraph improves comprehension of biology by incorporating complex systems ideas (e.g. how birds behave in a flock) into the standard biology curriculum. It uses a blocks-based programming language – StarLogo Nova – to help students engage with classroom material. The project allows us to work with educators to develop and implement curriculums. The data collected can be used to track and interpret changes in the learning environment.
According to the NECSI web site “Complex Systems is a new field of science studying how parts of a system give rise to the collective behaviors of the system, and how the system interacts with its environment…”
In a typical high school biology class, students are often taught how individuals act, without addressing how their movements and interactions (multiplied by thousands and millions of them performing actions in parallel) result in the often surprising behavior of biological systems as a whole.
Agent-based computer models provide a way to visualize and study complex systems. An agent-based model consists of a virtual world filled with interacting ‘agents,’ which are individuals that follow simple rules. They can represent anything: people, cars, atoms, rabbits, cells etc. BioGraph uses these models to facilitate the exploration of biology through a complex systems lens.
Modeling a Pond Ecosystem
Gene Regulation and Protein Synthesis
Evolution: Something’s Fishy
Enzymes: Chew on This!