Brinker, Daniel , Chastain, Daryl , Choinski, John .
Mathematical Modeling of Photosynthesis as a Teaching Tool.
We have been using STELLA (Systems Thinking in an Experiential Learning Environment) software in a broader research effort (that has involved numerous undergraduate science majors) to create dynamic models of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) leaf photosynthesis based on data gathered in the field and in growth chambers. Specifically, we have been investigating how factors such as air and leaf temperature, irradiance and stage of leaf expansion impact single leaf and overall canopy photosynthesis. STELLA software was chosen as it has a user-friendly computer interface that encourages looking at problems in their complete environment and to think about the interactions between different parts of a system. STELLA software has four building blocks to create a visual model: stocks (a way to represent anything that accumulates), flows (arrows indicating the direction of inputs and outputs), converters (a way to incorporate fixed parameters or equations that can alterflow rates) and connectors (arrows that transmit information to regulate flows). From these experiences, we suggest that mathematical modeling could also be a powerful tool in math and science education. The goal of our work is to give students a more hands-on approach in learning the mathematical relationships within complex systems and allow them to visualize how each variable and equation within the system interacts with other variables. We predict this approach will enhance learning, as it will encourage students to move beyond rigid textbook-style methods for problem solving to (at some level) experiencing the mathematical aspects of complex processes. We suggest that dynamic system modeling, although difficult to learn at first, will be applicable to a wide variety of education levels including K-12 students, as well as undergraduate and graduate science majors.
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1 - University of Central Arkansas, Biology, Conway, AR, 72035, USA
2 - University Of Central Arkansas, Biology Department, Conway, AR, 72035, UNITED STATES
Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Location: Battelle South/Convention Center
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012
Time: 5:30 PM