Modeling and MBL: Software Tools for Science
Recent technological advances and new software packages put unprecedented power for experimenting and theory-building in the hands of students at all levels. Microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) and model-solving tools illustrate the educational potential of the technology. These tools include modeling software and three MBL packages (which are described in this paper): (1) The Bank Street Laboratory, a large hardware, print, and software package which enables students to perform a wide variety of experiments involving light, temperature, and sound; (2) Exploring Heat, an MBL unit developed with special attention to the needs of mildly learning disabled late elementary school students; and (3) Experiments in Chemistry, a secondary/college-level package for recording, graphing, and analyzing pH, electromotive force, and temperature data. MBL and dynamic modeling software are important to science education because they complement each other. In addition, students do science, activities become more student-centered, and software has applicability to many grade levels. Extensive in-class testing shows that the desirable characteristics for the successful educational use of both MBL and dynamic modeling software include ease of use, fast feedback, the computer's computational ability, and use of graphical output. (JN)
Tinker, R.F. Modeling and MBL: Software Tools for Science.