Project-based instruction (PBI), a UTeach Natural Science course taught by Dr. Petrosino and assisted by Max Sherard, is offered to students as they are finishing their undergraduate careers. Pre-service teachers enrolled in this course engage in the theoretical underpinnings of project-based instruction, plan and execute a 3-day teaching experience at a local high school, and design their own full project-based unit.
In the final weeks of the semester, Dr. Petrosino graduate students Max Sherard and Jason Harron wanted to provide pre-service teachers with an opportunity to engage with GbCC models to elicit ideas of how these models could be used in project-based instruction.
Eight PBI students enrolled in the course engaged in a hour and a half lesson where they (1) watched the anchor video How Wolves Change Rivers, (2) explored standards based lessons related to food webs and ecology, (3) explored GbCC models to wolves, elk, and aspen trees, and (4) discussed implications of using GbCC in their future classrooms.
The models used in the lesson were modified versions of the GbCC Wolf-Sheep Predation model, edited by undergraduate Computer Science student Mica Kohl. In version one of Kohl's modified model, she changed the sheep from the original model to an elk figure for match with the video. In version two of Kohl's modified model, she included parameters that show over-grazing occurring as a spectrum, rather then a binary (grass/no-grass).
Pre-service PBI students were excited to engage with the models and had many ideas of how GbCC models can aid learners in developing a complex and quantified understanding of how populations shift over time with regard to their ecological relationships - a development that standards based lessons often fail to achieve.