the unit by programming simple and
separate procedures with change-agent attributes such as color, size, and
location. Students can press keys individually or simultaneously, producing many humorous combinations of
change, such as animals changing size
and color simultaneously.
They control motion by manipulating the distance that their creations
cover in one time step. Students quickly recognize that the default value of
“one step” represents the distance covered in a single iteration. By turning
this constant into a variable, students
experiment with velocity by creating
a slider that changes that variable in
real time and moves their creations at
different speeds. By combining that
movement in the x direction with a
separate change in the y direction, they
can experiment with independent simultaneous change of velocity in two
The progression from simple manipulation to the advanced programming
concept of variables moving both vertically and horizontally occurs naturally, as they are linked to the student’s
desire to create a variety of motions for
The culmination of the kinematics
section is a unit on projectile motion. To get realistic vertical motion,
students add to independent motions
on the ground a procedure for the
negatively directed acceleration of free
fall in the z direction. A game can help
students experience this hard-to-picture situation (see Figure 3).
Students build a jumping game by
following a set of scaffolded instructions. The goal of the game is to get a
raccoon to jump over a wall and hit a
target. Students build procedures that
produce forward motion at a constant
velocity and vertical movement that
employs acceleration. Although these
are separate procedures, they can be
executed simultaneously to demonstrate realistic motion.
After completing this unit, a stu-
dent wrote this reflection:
I really like this style of learning
because it is not taking tedious
notes. You get to demonstrate the
concepts you are learning through
simulations rather than just writ-
ing and reading.
StarLogo TNG can feasibly fit into
a crowded science curriculum along
a spectrum from students manipulating a prebuilt simulation model,
to modifying a model, to designing
and building their own models. TNG
can leverage students’ enthusiasm for
playing and making games. As TNG
continues to develop, look for an integrated means to share projects with an
online community of StarLogo TNG
users as well as other features that integrate the sciences of simulation and
gaming. Find out more at http://
Eric Klopfer is an associate professor and director of the MIT Scheller Teacher Educa- tion Program (STEP) and the Education Arcade. His work focuses on the research and evelopment of games and
simulations for learning.
Hal Scheintaub, PhD, is a researcher in MIT’s STEP and a developer for StarLogo as well as a secondary school science teacher. He was previ- ously a postdoctoral fellow at he Albert Einstein College of
Medicine and a public health research scientist.
Wendy Huang, MS, is the program manager for MIT’s STEP. She has also been a middle school math teacher, teacher educator, and educa- tional software and curricula developer.
Daniel Wendel, MA, leads the StarLogo TNG development eam. He spends his time run- ning workshops, developing materials, and helping teach- ers use StarLogo TNG in their classrooms.
Grounded Tech Inte
This is the fourth article in a series on grounded
technology integration. See Resources for the full
list of previous articles.
T he English language arts (ELA)—traditionally concep- tualized as reading, writing,
speaking, and listening—are evolving
due to emerging technologies and the
newer literacies they inspire. Students
enter the ELA classroom already literate in multiple ways: reading, writing,
and producing multimodal and multimedia texts for specific audiences
and contexts. Emerging technologies provide new modes and media
for communication but also create
new opportunities and challenges
for teachers. How can technology
integration efforts focus on the ELA
curriculum–based learning needs of
students while leveraging the benefits
of particular tools and resources?
One way to help teachers integrate
technology effectively is to focus on
instructional planning. Research
indicates that teachers plan instruction primarily according to curriculum content–based learning needs.
Plans for lessons, projects, and units
are organized and structured with
content-based learning activities. Our
approach to helping teachers better integrate educational technologies into
By Carl A. Young, Mark Hofer, and Judi Harris