See Related: Science Technology
  1. Naomi Thompson
  2. BioSim: BeeSim
  3. http://www.iu.edu/~biosim/
  4. Indiana University, Center for Research on Learning and Technology, Creativity Labs
  1. Joshua Danish
  2. Associate Professor
  3. BioSim: BeeSim
  4. http://www.iu.edu/~biosim/
  5. Indiana University, Center for Research on Learning and Technology, RAPT Lab
  1. Kylie Peppler
  2. Associate Professor
  3. BioSim: BeeSim
  4. http://www.iu.edu/~biosim/
  5. Indiana University, Center for Research on Learning and Technology, Creativity Labs
Facilitators’
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Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:30 p.m.

    Hello! I have had the opportunity to be the lead graduate assistant on the BioSim project. This has been a wonderful experience working with early elementary students as they take on the perspective of honeybees and learn about complex systems. Our data collection period has ended, and as we analyze the data, we are working on ways to continue to spread the reach of these exciting activities. How might this be adapted in different ways for different contexts? Thanks for stopping by! The PIs of this project -- Dr. Kylie Peppler, Dr. Joshua Danish, and Dr. Armin Moczek -- and I look forward to the discussions here in the days ahead.

  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 02:38 p.m.

    Hi to all, my 5 year old grandson watched this with me several times and agreed the kids were having fun and the bee puppets are a great scale! We wondered what happened when they returned to "the hive". I wondered what meaning the students made of the computer graphics and how they related their own active 3-d experience to what they see on the screen. for that matter, I have a hunch there's plenty of information to keep the adults intrigued! 

     

    What data are you collecting?

    What other phenomena do you simulate?

    Sally

     

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:41 p.m.

    Hi Sally! I'm glad you and your grandson enjoyed the video! When "bees" return to the hive, they perform a waggle dance to tell other bees how to find a nectar source. In this way, the bees all work together for the good of the hive as a whole. Then, they wait for their next turn to go foraging - they would sometimes work on a bee puzzle or just lookout for new waggle dances.

    We collected video data of all the sessions, and are using pre/post interviews and multiple choice assessments to see how learners' ideas about complex systems changed during our activities. We have also created a parallel simulation called AntSim. Here, learners pretend to be army ants using electronic push-toys. A new and exciting indoor positioning technology enables the learners' push-toys to leave pheromone trails to good food sources. We are currently examining the usefulness of this new technology for helping learners see themselves in the data and think in new ways about feedback.

    Thanks for stopping by our video!

  • Icon for: Joshua Danish

    Joshua Danish

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:28 a.m.

    I wanted to also add that the students really connected to the playback of the bee avatars. That is, they were quick to say things like (paraphrasing) "That was me! I kept going to that flower, but then it ran out of nectar!"

    While students clearly saw many patterns when "being" bees, they rarely talked about their observations until we activated the playback, and then they were quick to note important patterns about how the bees found and communicated about nectar. One of the things we are examining in our current analysis is how that shift in perspective (from being a bee to observing the bees) is crucial to the sense-making and discussing process, and how students both benefit from and sometimes are confused by recognizing their own actions within the space.

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2018 | 09:33 p.m.

    What a fun approach! Our My Sky Tonight team has also been developing science activities for young children (our age range is 3-5), but our focus is astronomy. I can see a connection here, however. In astronomy education, modeling is very important because it is impossible to directly engage with most (though not all!) astronomical phenomena. I love how you have created a fun, interactive model for this phenomenon of bee behavior that children would be unable to safely and easily interact with directly.

     

    How are you measuring the impact of this activity? Are you looking for the children to engage specific scientific skills?

     

    I'd like to incorporate more role playing and possibly even computer modeling into our work with young children. Do you have any advice or resources that you'd recommend?

     

    I hope you'll have a chance to check out our video about My Sky Tonight, and also some of the activities and resources we've developed through our work.

     

    I look forward to seeing the results of your work! Thanks for an interesting and fun video!

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:02 p.m.

    Hi Anna! Thanks for stopping by! We've been using video data and pre/post assessments to describe impact and learning. Specifically, we're looking at complex systems thinking around the concepts of feedback, iteration/emergence, and constraints in particular. 

    When it comes to role play, we find it really useful to draw on practices and games children are likely to already engage in! We use stories like Hansel and Gretel to help explain pheromone trails, and the bee activities came out of hand puppets many young children love so much. Having children make their own puppets or play materials could be a fun way to support personal expression and interest. We wrote a chapter called "Designing BioSim: Playfully encouraging systems thinking in young children" that describes some of our thought processes in designing these games for learning. Let me know if you'd like me to send that chapter along!

    My Sky Tonight looks like such a wonderful way to get little ones excited about the complexities of our world. I love how you draw on young children's natural curiosities and wonderings. How fun!

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:16 p.m.

    Thanks, Naomi! I am definitely interested in reading that chapter. You could email it to me at ahurst@astrosociety.org

     

     

  • Icon for: Joshua Danish

    Joshua Danish

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:37 a.m.

    I wanted to also add one more specific suggestion (which is in our chapter and other publications): We find it is always helpful to focus on designing a clear goal or object for students activity, and then explore how pursuing that goal will engage them in the play (or inquiry, or both because they overlap!) and then how our tools can support that while making the key ideas in the system visible. So in this case, we start by getting the students curious about bees, but then when they play the game, their goal is to get as much nectar as possible. To do that, they soon realize that they need to communicate! If they don't, they run out of time too quickly. So they come to quickly appreciate the value of the bee communication in a truly authentic and grounded way.

    • Danish, J. A., Peppler, K., Phelps, D., & Washington, D. (2011). Life in the Hive: Supporting Inquiry into Complexity Within the Zone of Proximal Development. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(5), 454-467. 
    • Danish, J. A. (2014). Applying an Activity Theory Lens to Designing Instruction for Learning About the Structure, Behavior, and Function of a Honeybee System. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 23(2), 1-49. 
     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Jonathan Margolin

    Jonathan Margolin

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 11:01 a.m.

    Thanks, Joshua. I look forward to reading both!

  • Icon for: Julia Plummer

    Julia Plummer

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2018 | 02:55 p.m.

    This is wonderful, I enjoyed the video very much.  I agree with Anna - this is helpful for our thinking about the activities we design for the My Sky Tonight project.  

    Did the children go back and look at what the software was showing at the end? I was wondering what type of sense-making activities happened after the engaging physical simulation.  Thanks!

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:28 p.m.

    Hi Julia!

    Absolutely! The Playback (seen at about 2:08 in the video) is a crucial part of the activities. As Joshua (co-PI) mentioned above, some of the most important reflections and sense-making discussions came as children engaged with this part of the technology. Overall, the "debrief" discussions that took place after the day's activities were where we saw especially rich talk and discovery.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Jonathan Margolin

    Jonathan Margolin

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 11:00 a.m.

    The discussion about this has been fabulous! I recently evaluated a program that uses playground activities (running, throwing, jumping) to illustrate middle school science principles. This program included a full-day workshop to prepare teachers to integrate the program with their physics curriculum. What sort of training do you provide teachers to use BeeSim and AntSim? How much of the training focuses on content and how much on pedagogy and use of the tools?

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:59 p.m.

    Hi Jonathan! When we started working on our curriculum we struck up a partnership with two teachers who would go on to have the activities in their classrooms. They gave us a crucial critical eye by helping us consider what was feasible in a single session and guiding us toward the developmentally appropriate language. They then acted as teacher mentors by helping to train other teachers who participated. In all cases, I think we tried to focus equally on the systems and biology content as well as the inquiry-based pedagogy. The researchers primarily handled the technology and the tools, although we also spent time with the teachers demonstrating how the technology worked and what it could do. As we consider possibilities for scaling this work up and out, the time and knowledge needed to run the tech is certainly something we are wrestling with. How can we offload the burden of the tech so it just works and the teachers can focus elsewhere? 

     
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    Jonathan Margolin
    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:53 p.m.

    For My Sky Tonight, we provided six-week online workshops for the informal educators who received our activity toolkits. As we were developing these workshops, we also struggled with getting the right balance of content and pedagogy. We settled on a heavier focus on developmentally appropriate practices, but specifically adapted for the astronomy activities and topics we were covering. The astronomy background content was covered thoroughly in the written lesson plans, but was less of an emphasis in the workshop. We didn't have the additional element of technology to grapple with, since all our activities use simple, inexpensive, easy to find materials. I'd be happy to talk to you more about our training model as you explore how to scale up your project. You can do a lot with online training - you might be surprised!

     

  • Icon for: Jonathan Margolin

    Jonathan Margolin

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 11:21 a.m.

    BTW, this is the cutest bee dance since this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qVPNONdF58. 

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:55 p.m.

    Thanks for the 90s flashback, Jonathan!

  • Icon for: Jonathan Margolin

    Jonathan Margolin

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 12:27 a.m.

    Any time!

  • Icon for: Jessica A. Knoll

    Jessica A. Knoll

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:32 p.m.

    What a great hands on tool for student to use! As a first grade teacher I teach a lot about different topics like insects, plants, and the food we eat. With this program I would really be able to simulate and have the children not only learn about a bee's life but it could also lead into further discussion about our ecosystem. Bees are going through some trouble right now, and this would be a perfect way to show students why we need them, and what happens when their environment is effected. Is this a program that could be bought by a school and used throughout multiple grade levels? 

     
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    Zhimei He
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:00 p.m.

    Hi Jessica - I love this connection to the issues of bees more broadly! The program is not currently available for purchase, although we are working on ways to spread it more broadly! We would love to see this in classrooms in different communities and grade levels in the near future. Thanks for checking in, we would be happy to keep you updated as we work to roll this out. 

  • Icon for: Margo Murphy

    Margo Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 04:00 a.m.

    What an innovative learning project.  This seems really perfect for science centers and site visits to schools.  I am wondering what the plans are for scaling this across your state and even beyond?  I am also wondering because it is so data rich how teachers are using this experience once the actual simulation is over.  I would love to see this come to my school district! 

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:05 p.m.

    Hi Margo, thanks! We do currently have a partnership with a small local science museum, which is one avenue we hope to utilize for scaling this up and out. We are also considering how we might turn this into a toolkit or even a package that schools could purchase. We'd be happy to keep you posted as these plans evolve!

    All the teachers we worked with have loved these activities and continued to talk about the experiences with their classrooms after our implementation ended. At least one has also integrated more of these concepts into her teaching in subsequent school years with all new students. There are so many possible connections to make!

     
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    Margo Murphy
  • Icon for: Debra Bernstein

    Debra Bernstein

    Senior Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 01:18 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your video, and your approach.  I'm curious about the longevity of the activity in the classroom - how long do students/teachers use BeeSim?  And, do you find that the conversations about the activity last longer? Are teachers and students still referencing the activity even after it's finished?

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:14 p.m.

    Hi Debra! Our activities usually last about 10 days, spread out over 2 to 4 weeks. Absolutely, we have found that discussions about bees, systems, and related topics come up for these teachers and students long after our implementations end. One school has a yearly habitat project where students we worked with have started to explore bees and other social insects based on interest sparked through BeeSim. One of the teachers we've worked with has developed quite a soft spot for bees as well! 

  • Icon for: Debra Bernstein

    Debra Bernstein

    Senior Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 02:27 p.m.

    Thanks, Naomi!  It's not surprising, this activity looks fabulously engaging.  And so glad to hear it's helping the teachers warm to bees!

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2018 | 02:27 p.m.

    This is a very creative simulation for learning about bees. The video primarily shows classroom and computer graphics. How were the children generalizing this information to the outdoors? 

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:23 a.m.

    Hi Victoria! You bring up a good point - we didn't physically take our activities outside during the implementations. However, connections to our students' surroundings and experiences came up extensively during debriefs and discussions. The teachers constantly made sure to ask connecting questions such as "Have you seen a bee getting food from flowers before? Do you have bees near your house? It's winter outside now - do you think bees would find a lot of nectar today?" I also heard many stories of students observing bees and other social insects on the playground during recess, and even doing their own "winter huddles" when it was cold like honeybees do in the hive! I would love to hear if you have suggestions for making more explicit connections to learners' outside environments!

  • Small default profile

    Rebecca Maryott

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2018 | 06:56 p.m.

    I grew up around honey bees, as my dad is a beekeeper.  I am impressed with this engaging project for young students, especially in a time when honey bees are having environmental challenges!  I think one of the most beneficial pieces of this project is to have the students review the videos after the game is over. They are able to see and make sense of patterns, revisit their communication skills for improvement, and pose new curiosity questions.
    I browsed your website, and saw so many materials for instructors and students! This project is very well thought out. The mode of learning through play is genius for younger students! How could an older student (middle or high school) use this project to explore and learn about honey bees? I could see students' curiosity driving the learning here, with many topics to explore!

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:47 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca! I bet it was so interesting growing up around bees! I do hope our activities helped learners have more respect and less fear toward bees, as this is such a crucial time to be thinking about these issues. For older students, I think it would be nice to have groups of students research particular honeybee phenomena like pollination or the waggle dance and work to make their own simulations/representations. I think this could hit a lot of different concepts while providing even more agency for more advanced learners. Also, co-PI Dr. Armin Moczek teaches college biology courses and often has his students try to communicate with their peers through waggle dances as they learn about social insects. Learning through play can be beneficial at all ages and stages!

  • Icon for: Zhimei He

    Zhimei He

    Researcher
    May 17, 2018 | 10:11 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing the great video. Glancing at the children's active participation and interesting discussion, no doubting that it 's a perfect game. It reflects researchers' and designer's delicate thought of scientific pedagogy.

    I happen to have similar questions as upstairs Jessica: How to popularize the game project to more communities or schools? If marketing it, how to give the highlights of the project game? It focuses on ecological knowedge or more game system-thinking or else gaming? Anyway, it's an instructive activity and terrific e-textile exploring of learning. And maybe the project itself does not aim at being commercialized but kinda grope for making with learning. 

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 04:07 p.m.

    Hey, Zhimei! Thanks so much for watching our video! You're right, we are definitely wrestling with ways to increase the reach of these activities. Maybe it can be transformed into a commercial toolkit, as you mention, or maybe it can be a roaming exhibit that visits different science centers and museums. We're not sure yet!

    The systems thinking we try to address in the game is certainly related to bee biology/ecology, but we also hope we can begin to explore possibilities for transfer. Feedback, for example, takes place in countless ways in countless systems. Does learning about feedback through the lens of a honeybee help children understand feedback in another context? This is something we are planning to look at in the future. Thanks!

  • May 17, 2018 | 01:24 p.m.

    So fun to see this work in all of its fullness. Nice choice of music too. ;-) 

    What are you analyzing in particular from this data? I've known about this project in various forms since Dr. Danish's dissertation days, and I'd love to know what current questions you're researching!

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 09:56 a.m.

    Hi Deborah, thanks for stopping by our video!

    One of the really interesting things emerging from this data is the different roles of the first-person and third-person perspectives. We did a comparison between 3 classrooms that used the activities in different ways, mediated through first-person, third-person, or an integration of both. We collected video data and multiple-choice measures, and are looking at how systems thinking concepts (specifically feedback, iteration/emergence, and constraints) came out in different ways through these different mediation strategies. We have a full paper on this upcoming at ICLS – I’d be happy to send that along once the proceedings are formatted and finalized! This is really helping us see the importance of play for these young learners, but also the potential for robust simulations of complex phenomena even at young ages. We are also starting to look closely at the Playback feature and how it supports learners’ reflections as they see themselves in the data. There have been many iterations and adaptations since Joshua’s dissertation, but the BeeSign simulation software has remained a crucial element of the curriculum!

  • Icon for: Lucy Davies

    Lucy Davies

    Undergraduate Student
    May 17, 2018 | 09:05 p.m.

    This looks like a fun simulation for young students! It seems very engaging and the students are able to learn in depth about bees. I was wondering what the process of this looks like. I know it was previously mentioned that it is about 10 days long, but what happens leading up to the simulation and what is occurs after? Are there discussions or other fun activities or is this left up to the teacher to decide? This seems like a great idea and I'd love to see more simulations like this be incorporated into all classrooms.

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 01:09 p.m.

    Hi Lucy! When we are collecting data, we usually do pre- and post-tests before and after the 10 days. But otherwise, the activities fit into the teachers' science activities, so each teacher introduces and wraps up the unit how they choose! One teacher had students write about the experience, and another moved right into a habitat project, having students make connections between bees and a new animal of their choosing. Do you have suggestions for good ways to introduce and wrap up these activities? Thanks for your question - I think it's really important for us to consider how our curriculum fits into a classroom's flow of activity!

  • Icon for: Charlie Mahoney

    Charlie Mahoney

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 07:16 p.m.

    Hi Naomi! You all did a fantastic job on the video, and it's always great to see more of BeeSim! I'm wondering, even with how engaging and fun BeeSim is for students, do you ever have students who struggle or are (for whatever reason) less-engaged in the activities? If so, has your analysis shed any light on why this might be and, possibly, what design or implementation changes might support better engagement for those students?

    All the best!

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 10:12 a.m.

    Charlie! Thanks so much for coming by and this great question.

    In our experience, pretty much everyone is engaged in the nectar collection play parts of BeeSim. Even one student who was a little scared of the realistic bee puppet partnered up with another student (who held the bee) and was as excited to help collect nectar as everyone else. I think we did notice some waning of attention during debrief and discussion times, but this felt like it was primarily due to age and that it's difficult to sit still after running around the classroom! The BeeSim activities are unlike anything else most children get to do in school, and I can't recall any major engagement concerns.

    I do think there is room to design additional activities for learners to do while waiting for their turn inside the hive. We designed some iPad games and some jiqsaw puzzles for this purpose, but it proved difficult to facilitate those activities at the same time as the game and the technology. As a result, there is a lot of waiting time, and I hope this is something that can be addressed in future iterations. We sometimes dealt with this issue by splitting the class in half: half  the class would do the puppet play and the other half would watch and write down their scientific observations. Then, we would switch so everyone had a chance to do both. I think we can continue to work to design even better ways to address this!

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