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ERIC Number: EJ873511
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-1741-8887
A Participatory Simulation for Informal Education in Restoration Ecology
Tomlinson, Bill; Baumer, Eric; Yau, Man Lok; Carpenter, F. Lynn; Black, Rebecca
E-Learning, v5 n3 p238-255 2008
Constructivist pedagogical approaches have become common in many science curricula. However, while sciences such as physics and chemistry lend themselves to compelling opportunities for interaction (explosions, reactions, objects in motion), certain systems sciences are more challenging for learners to engage with on a short time scale. Applying constructivist, discovery-based methods to the teaching of restoration ecology presents a number of difficulties, including the large amount of time and space over which ecological processes occur, limitations on experiments that can be performed in classroom contexts, and limited access to certain ecological settings. To address these difficulties, a team of computer scientists, ecologists, and educators created the EcoRaft project, a participatory simulation that allows children to learn about restoration ecology by playing the role of ecologists collaborating to restore a virtual rain forest ecosystem. Through qualitative evaluations of the EcoRaft project in multiple contexts, this article explores (1) how to design simulated environments more effectively as a means of promoting collaborative, discovery-based learning of scientific concepts, and (2) how to do so in ways that balance the need for integrating content area knowledge with interactive paradigms that engage young participants. (Contains 7 figures.)
Symposium Journals. P.O. Box 204, Didcot, Oxford, OX11 9ZQ, UK. Tel: +44-1235-818-062; Fax: +44-1235-817-275; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A