|Computer modelling means using a
computer to ‘model’ situations to see how they are likely to work out if you
do different things. Using a computer to change things and see what happens.
If children use a simulation where they have to make decisions that affect
the outcome, then go back and try something else, that is computer modelling.
If they use spreadsheets to work out the cost of something, and play with
the figures to see what happens, that is computer modelling.|
Children are lead to ask questions such as “What would happen if…….??”!
What would happen if we increased or decreased the budget?
What would happen if we can find a furniture shop that is having a sale?
Would it look better with pink walls or blue walls?
A computer model is a simulation or model of a situation in the real world
or an imaginary world which has parameters which the user can alter. So a
model could consist of a simulation such as with the children's educational
software Spex or a spreadsheet modeling software.
We could change the prices of items in the spreadsheet or delete items
from the spreadsheet temporarily, and see what the effect on the overall
design was, or permanently.
What is computer modelling? Does it have anything to do with those Airfix
model aeroplane kits we used to make as children? In the classroom we use
‘models’ to explain and teach about real situations such as the water cycle.
A board game may be a model of an imaginary situation. For example
A computer model which children can understand will simulate a situation
which is familiar to them, and which they have ideas about. Spex offers a
computer model of the rooms in a house, which all children relate to, they
are all comfortable with homes and rooms. The idea is to plan a room by
putting into it your own selection of furniture and fitments, in the layout
you choose. This is done on a 2D plan. You then switch to the 3D screen to
see how your room looks. You can switch back to 2D and experiment by
shifting the furniture around or deleting it, and then see what difference
that makes, as many times as you want, until you like the way the room is.
The children become involved in making a number of decisions - how big will
the room need to be? What furniture should it contain and where. Where to
put the bed, is it best under the window, or by the radiator? What colour
scheme will look good? Will purple walls and a pink floor go together?
There is a spreadsheet included in the software so you can see how much the
furniture and fittings would cost, and you can set a budget of how much
money is available to spent on furnishing the room. Keeping within a defined
budget also involves making choices and hard decisions – is a TV necessary
in a bedroom? Removing it would save some money, but would it be better to
get rid of the wardrobe? But then where would you keep your clothes??
Children start to make decisions like; Which room to model, which
items of furniture and how many to put in the room, where in the room to
place items for the best effect, how much to spend and the total amount in the
budget, colour scheme of walls and
floor and so on.
Adults take these kinds of decisions for granted but children need to
learn that concerns like these are an integral part of everyday life.
Computer modelling using
children's educational software like Spex stimulates
them to ask questions, make decisions, try solutions, change them
and try again!