Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 05:25 p.m.

    Hi all. I’ve been working to produce a video that could convey the experience of this 2500 square foot, immersive, interactive projected exhibition. We’re interesting in submitting to competitions, sharing the experience and promoting the exhibition. Your feedback would be very helpful. thanks. Geralyn

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 16, 2016 | 09:11 p.m.

    Geralyn, this was a great video. Thanks for submitting it. I am curious what scaffolding is necessary, if any, for the kids to play purposely, and thoughtfully with the exhibit? So for instance, as the kids move the foam on the floor, are they aware that they are redirecting the water and of the impact that it has on multiple biomes? Or is one child moving it one way, another child moves it back, before they can discuss the impact? Is their a curator that helps? Have you noticed an age range where this works best? Eager to hear more. This is quite a beautiful immersive exhibit.

  • Icon for: Elc Estrera

    Elc Estrera

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:42 a.m.

    I agree: this is a beautiful exhibit. I am also wondering about scaffolding to ensure the kids play purposely with the exhibit. On a related note. How would you evaluate the impact of participation in the exhibit on children’s understanding of systems thinking in nature?

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:39 a.m.

    Thanks so much. Elc and Joni, I’m going to try and answer as best I can, please ask for clarification if you still have questions.

    Facilitating this exhibition has been very challenging and is still evolving as we continue to observe and test in the space. We developed 2 approaches: 1 is more structured for school groups. We have 3 levels of scripts that get at different levels of cognitive understanding of systems; and then a lightly facilitated experience for casual visitors like families.

    For both, we incorporate challenges and then breaks in sessions that allow for groups discussions, sharing of strategies and prompts from the facilitators about what to look for. The school groups get a much stronger narrative framing around the exhibit which incudes an exploratory session, a challenge sessions, and role assignments. A facilitator is always on the floor either modeling behaviors or giving prompts.

    The way to move water is explained up front as is planting and chopping. How to strategically use these interactions to balance the environment is more of the point we’re trying to get at. We also have an intro video for general audiences https://vimeo.com/167117454/settings that gives basic directions.

    The beauty of the exhibit is that so many variables can be changed: the amount of water shared by the habitats, the rate of evaporation, how fast plants grow and use water, etc. So we can set challenges for many different age groups. This puts a lot on the facilitators and we’re working in supporting them more. Some are having a difficult time with the open-ended exploration and being less didactic. It’s a tough job.

    We’re working on follow up materials and having more exhibits in the space that make the connection to the real world. Sometimes the facilitators can get at that in discussions. But we’d like to make stronger connections.

    We continue to test in the space. There are so many good research questions here, but more importantly, are they getting it? And if not, what can we do to help.

    Thanks for your questions.

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 18, 2016 | 10:52 a.m.

    Thanks so much for this reply which is very helpful. I love the idea of having challenges that go with the exhibit. I am sure it is a delicate balance between allowing discovery in an informal environment and supporting purposeful activity. Do your challenges vary by grade level? Do you have data on which grade levels or ages of students are best suited?

  • Icon for: Elc Estrera

    Elc Estrera

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 12:52 p.m.

    Thanks for the reply Geralyn. My apologies if you have answered the following question in your response above; I may not have picked up on it. I’m wondering what outcomes you would measure and how would you measure whether the program had an effect on those outcomes.

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 08:40 a.m.

    Hi, We do vary the challenges by age level. Younger kids focus on balancing within an environment and we cut the water a bit during the challenge. Older kids balance across environments and we a range of scarce water to drought. We also change the rate of evaporation. Here’s a brief description of focus: K-2: Who lives here? Plant and Animal Diversity

    Students will identify our imaginary creatures and plants in their habitats and what they need to survive and thrive. They will observe patterns of when and why creatures emerge or leave a habitat and use strategies to sustain creatures in their particular environments. Special attention will be paid to plant and animal relationships to each other and their dependence on their environment.

    Learning goals: Cause and effect reasoning, pattern thinking, plant and animal diversity; ecosystems.

    3rd-4th: Engineering the World: Plant and Animal Adaptations

    Changes in the environment start with water- where it is and where it needs to go to sustain life. Students will collaborate to create strategies for distributing water based on what they discover about the plants and creatures living there. Students will focus on the relationship of plants and animals to the health and balance of the overall ecosystem.

    Learning goals: Plant and animal adaptations, animals and plants and their environments, interconnectedness, understanding systems as a set of components, engineering

    5th-9th: Keeping Balance in a Changing World: Environmental Interdependence

    Students explore what happens across these imaginary habitats under different environmental conditions. Working in teams, they create strategies to manage extreme conditions such as drought through water management and distribution. They will experience dynamic equilibrium while they work to maintain balance among environments that are in flux. Students investigate stability and change throughout the system by discovering how small changes in one area can have huge effects elsewhere on the plant and animal life. Their challenge is too keep all 4 habitats in balance – having a diversity of plants and animals and enough water to maintain them.

    Learning goals: Interdependence; stability and change in ecosystems, dynamic equilibrium, systems thinking, engineering

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 08:44 a.m.

    Elc, what’s really revealing are the talk back parts of the sessions. the evaluators engage the kids in deep discussions about what their theories are about how the world works based on their observations. After the first free exploration part, the kids are asked to try out different theories and see how they work. We’re collecting that data now. In terms of more formalized research, I’m going to need to talk to the research folks about this. I know they are working up a process. this kind of exhibit lays the foundation for understanding systems thinking in our world, but the work of making the connection doesn’t happen in the exhibit. So we have some work to do to go back to the classroom and evaluate. Does that answer your question? If not, let me know.

  • Icon for: Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 12:20 a.m.

    Very interesting exhibit with a lot of opportunities for students to see how systems are affected by students actions in a way that is engaging.

    I’m curious to find out how computer sciences concepts are being connected to what is going on around them and if students can take what they are learning about in the exhibit and take it to the next level by predicting how their actions affect other systems. Any data on that?

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:42 a.m.

    Great question. We don’t have data on that yet. But it’s something we’re very interested in. We are developing a mobile digital tool that uses the same habitats and characters and presents challenges that require computational thinking skills to solve. We’re also developing a session for 6-10 grades about science models and how they are developed and used – using Connected Worlds at the big example. It’s based on a model developed by The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia Univers.

  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Postdoctoral Research Associate
    May 18, 2016 | 08:14 a.m.

    This is so cool! Has there been any push-back from visitors who are uncomfortable with evolution?

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:43 a.m.

    Not at all really. Happy to say.

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:46 a.m.

    As I’ve been answering all these great questions, I realized there was something else that might be interesting. We did years of prototyping for this exhibition, but we could only test 2 environments at a time and never with the floor active. So it wasn’t until it was actually installed and people were using it that we could find out how it worked and what the dynamics in the space were like and what questions visitors brought up. Then we were able to begin planning additional exhibits, pre- and post- materials, etc. And teacher materials. Systems thinking is not generally in the curriculum in an obvious way. And we’re still at it. Summer camps are a totally different beast than school groups and low visitation days are totally different than 40 kids on the floor.

  • Icon for: Jeff Forbes

    Jeff Forbes

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 03:39 p.m.

    Do you find that students engage differently in groups rather than when there’s less competition with other visitors? Do students learn from each other enough that school groups can be more effective?

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 08:48 a.m.

    Initially we tried to frame the experience in a way to keep competition out of it (which I’m not totally in support of). Now we’re introducing some back in. Kids actually are more engaged when something is at stake, at least from my observations. but the experience varies quite a bit from the casual visitor to the school group. Casual visitors usually stay in their unit and work with each other. Younger kids, like pre-school are more likely to interact and copy each other. Older than that, they complain about how someone else is messing up their plan, but they don’t try and negotiate. The school group experience is very structured and facilitated and encourages working together and planning strategies. Kids also show each other what tricks they discovered. So I think everyone has fun, but the collaborative learning happens in the more structured and facilitated school group activities.

  • Icon for: May Jadallah

    May Jadallah

    Associate Professor
    May 18, 2016 | 03:39 p.m.

    Certainly a fascinating exhibit. I would love to know how you define “systems thinking” given that different people refer to it differently. Thank you for the fascinating work.

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 09:02 a.m.

    Thanks, May. Very simply, everything is connected. I know that’s too simple. From AAAS “Any collection of things that have some influence on one another can be thought of as a system. Thinking of a collection of things as a system draws our attention to what needs to be included among the parts to make sense of it, to how its parts interact with one another, and to how the system as a whole relates to other systems. Thinking in terms of systems implies that each part is fully understandable only in relation to the rest of the system.” So what we did was focus on 3 systems behaviors for Connected Worlds: feedback loops, causal chains and maintaining equilibrium in a constantly changing environment. Then we broke that down into some key statements that guided the interactions, which is outlined in the attached document, Development Doc. Thanks.

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    Jeanne Wall

    Guest
    May 19, 2016 | 08:15 a.m.

    The video is wonderful but the exhibit in person is AMAZING!! My six year old twins could not get enough of the exhibit. There is no need for any scaffolding as someone mentioned as a concern. Just waving their little arms up would activate the area. When you are in the exhibit it is really all consuming. It’s a total mind/body experience. You are sort of taken away for a while almost like being in the Avatar movie. Definitely an exhibit like no other we’ve seen. It has the look and feel of something that you may otherwise have to wait in line for a very long time for at an entertainment park. What a truely wonderful way for children and adults to learn about our world. WONDERFUL!!

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 09:03 a.m.

    Thanks so much, Jeanne!

  • Icon for: Veronica Cassone McGowan

    Veronica Cassone McGowan

    May 19, 2016 | 03:01 p.m.

    This looks like a very engaging exhibit! I previously worked as an ecologist and the interdependence of systems is a key to understanding sustainability and the potential cascading impacts of our actions and decisions, especially when they’re focused on “fixing” a problem. I’m curious, with so many learners working in the simulation, how do you get them to connect specific actions to outcomes and are they able to look at multiple impacts to a system at one time?

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 09:19 a.m.

    Shoot I deleted what I wrote. I’ll try again. We thought initially that shadows would be an issue in the exhibition, but they actually help visitors place where they are affecting the habitats. With the water, it’s pretty straightforward. you can direct the water to an environment and see the groundwater increase. For effects across habitats and ones that are delayed, our facilitators really do a great job of guiding observations. Talk back sessions during group challenges also are incredibly helpful. We also have a display, Global View, a schematic representation of what’s going on that happens in real time. You can also scroll back and see what happened over the last 30-40 minutes. It shows the balance of water across the system, number of dead plants, live plants and creatures. Here’s a link to the image. Let me know if you have trouble accessing it.

    https://drive.google.com/a/nyscience.org/file/d...

  • Icon for: Sarah Pidgeon

    Sarah Pidgeon

    May 20, 2016 | 02:07 p.m.

    This project is so exciting. What a phenomenal method for exploring systems thinking and ecology with students. I was just at Hall of Science for the STEMtastic day and did not get to see it and I wish I had!!! I saw that the program is geared for students up through 9th grade- are you open to hosting groups in 10th-12th grade as well? I am so excited about this exhibit!

  • Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

    Geralyn Abinader

    Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 02:11 p.m.

    Thanks Sarah, Come back, I’ll be happy to get you into the exhibit.

    We very much want to create programs through high school. It’s taking some time to figure it out. It wasn’t a priority as most of our groups are middle school and younger, but it’s definitely on the agenda.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: Geralyn Abinader

GERALYN ABINADER

New York Hall of Science, Games for Learning Institute, Center for International Earth Science Information...

Exploring systems thinking in Connected Worlds
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Leveraging state of the art technology and programming, Connected Worlds immerses the visitor in a virtual universe where they can becomes a part of a complex system at work. Visitors can manipulate flora, fauna and resources and see the effect of their actions across environments and over time. The group experience encourages iterative design, experimentation, data collection and collaboration, all key skills in STEM.