SIGGRAPH 2004 - The 31st international conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques
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Virtual Worlds, Cognitive Maps
Thursday, 9:15 - 9:30 am
Room 502B

This presentation explores the power of simulation building as a constructivist learning activity and develops an agenda for pursuit of research in this area. Our project gathered momentum after we observed that our animation students, who were working on modeling the behavior of foraging ants, had become quite enthusiastic and insightful about self-organizing emergent behaviors. Subsequent efforts along similar lines have led us to believe that creation of an interactive 3D simulation is a highly effective way to learn novel concepts that require new habits of mind. Note that we are recommending construction, rather than use of, a simulation to achieve these learning objectives. The act of creating one's own model requires an overall organization of the material and tests command of the details, so it demands much greater mastery of a subject than even the most thorough exploration of an existing simulation.

Steve Kurtz
Rochester Institute of Technology

Nancy Doubleday
Rochester Institute of Technology

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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA