Creatures of Habit: A Computational System to Enhance and Illuminate the Development of Scientific Thinking

Abstract : Creatures of Habit is a computer-based microworld designed to engage middle-to-high school students in the process of scientific inquiry. The system depicts a universe of interacting programmable "creatures" whose individual behavior is guided by simple rules that may model naive psychology, physical laws, chemical affinities, and other domains. Students can create or revise creature rules and explore the resulting (and often surprising) emergent behaviors within "artificial ecosystems"; or they may employ predesigned ecosyetems in undertaking more structured problem-solving activities. Our objective is for students to use these ecosystem simulations as an enjoyable introduction to a variety of scientific domains, especially the area of dynamic systems, a field of science where experiments with such simulations often leads theory. The system encourages a wide range of reasoning and learning central to scientific methodology - pattern observation, hypothesis formation, experimentation, data collection and analysis, and deduction. We describe the rationale behind the system, discuss some sample activities, and outline the system's potential both as a learning environment and as a research laboratory for empiricial studies of scientific thought. Finally, we briefly describe the present state of our prototype Creatures of Habit system.
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Roy D. Pea, Michael Eisenberg, Franklyn Turbak. Creatures of Habit: A Computational System to Enhance and Illuminate the Development of Scientific Thinking. Tenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 17-19 August 1988, 1988, Montreal, Canada. 7 p. ⟨hal-00190550⟩

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