A science learning environment using a computational thinking approach

Satabdi Basu, John S. Kinnebrew, Amanda Dickes, Amy Voss Farris, Pratim Sengupta, Jaymes Winger, Gautam Biswas

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Computational Thinking (CT) defines a domain-general, analytic approach to problem solving that combines concepts fundamental to computing, with systematic representations for concepts and problem-solving approaches in scientific and mathematical domains. We exploit this trade-off between domain-specificity and domain-generality to develop CTSiM (Computational Thinking in Simulation and Modeling), a cross-domain, visual programming and agent-based learning environment for middle school science. CTSiM promotes inquiry learning by providing students with an environment for constructing computational models of scientific phenomena, executing their models using simulation tools, and conducting experiments to compare the simulation behavior generated by their models against that of an expert model. In a preliminary study, sixth-grade students used CTSiM to learn about distance-speed-time relations in a kinematics unit and then about the ecological process relations between fish, duckweed, and bacteria occurring in a fish tank system. Results show learning gains in both science units, but this required a set of scaffolds to help students learn in this environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2012
Event20th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2012 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: Nov 26 2012Nov 30 2012


Conference20th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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