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The DeltaTick Project was developed as a design-based research tool to explore how high school students think and learn about quantitative change in emergent complex systems.
DeltaTick is a low-threshold visual programming interface for the NetLogo multi-agent modeling environment. It provides a graphical drag-and-drop interface that lets you build fully functional agent-based models quickly and easily. It also provides you with access to view and edit the text-based NetLogo code that is generated by any user’s configuration of programming blocks. These blocks typically reflect mid-grain behaviors appropriate for a specific content area (such as population dynamics, or natural selection) – are loaded from fully editable and authorable XML “Behavior Libraries”. They can also be loaded in combination with any number of other libraries.
Many of the ideas about rate of change and accumulation that we encounter in science (for example, in population dynamics or the relationship between temperature and pressure in gasses) and in everyday life (for example, climate change or voting trends) involve these kinds of emergent systems – where a single quantitative pattern encapsulates many interacting events and entities. Knowing how students think and learn about change over time in such systems can help educators prepare students as active and informed citizens, provide a new access point to more formal mathematical topics such as calculus and difference/differential equations, and provide a better foundation for students entering the natural and social sciences.
See more about the DeltaTick software here.
See what DeltaTick has helped us learn about students’ thinking here:
Wilkerson-Jerde, M. & Wilensky, U. (2010). Restructuring change, interpreting changes: The deltatick modeling and analysis toolkit. In Proceedings of Constructionism 2010 (p. 97), Paris, France. [PDF]
Wilkerson-Jerde, M. & Wilensky, U. (2010). Qualitative Calculus of Systems: Exploring Students’ Understanding of Rate of Change and Accumulation in Multiagent Systems. Presented at AERA 2010, Denver, CO, April 30 – May 4. [PDF]