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Focus on Climate Change

Pre-College SIG Seminar Series consists of periodic online meetings on K-12 education to the Systems Thinking and System Dynamics communities. These virtual activities cover a wide range of topics on K-12 education from many subjects while bringing together academics, teachers, and students together for learning and lively discussion. Our seminars aim to promote and improve skills to effectively apply systems thinking and dynamic computer simulation to K-12 education.  All seminars and recordings are free for both members and the general public.

Now What?

How an environmental science course was developed at IACS high school, some of the lessons used, and how the tools of system dynamics were integrated. I will quickly cover a few examples of how systems thinking and system dynamics tools were applied to other topics, especially in middle school.

Al Ticotsky

Retired middle school science teacher. Systems thinking and system dynamics modeling mentor at Carlisle Elementary School and Innovation Academy Charter School. Author/Co-Author of The Shape of Change, Now What? A Call to Action, and four other books on science education. Plans to establish a blog on the Creative Learning Exchange website that will address environmental systems, current events, K-12 systems education topics, and generally provide a platform for sharing work on systems thinking and system dynamics. His goal is to post about two entries per month and to include others’ work to build up our network, as well as keeping Now What? as current as possible..

Exploring Climate Change with System Dynamics

Climate change is largely being driven by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. System dynamic modeling is an excellent way to represent the imbalance in the carbon cycle produced by industrializing human activities. In this presentation, I will demonstrate a simple system dynamics model I have students create and explore questions about possible interventions. I always start with this model to introduce my students to system dynamics modeling, so I use this opportunity to not only have students learn about climate change but also learn the very basics of system dynamics modeling.

Jon Darkow has taught a variety of biology courses at the high school and college level for the past 18 years at Seneca East High School in and through Bowling Green State University. Currently, Jon teaches AP Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, and Physics. Jon has diverse academic training with a B.A. in Sociology from Ohio State University in 2000. He has a post-bachelors in Life Science Education and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Ashland University. Additionally, Jon has been completing graduate courses in the Department of Biological Science at Bowling Green State University. Jon has developed a robust set of online system dynamics models for students to explore biology and ecology at www.jondarkow.com.

 Environmental Education with Systems Thinking and the World Climate Game

An educational programme, which applied systems thinking methodology on climate change and environmental education whilst also using the simulation game “World Climate” as a tool will be presented. The programme was implemented in three parts from September to December 2021 with the participation of eighth grade students as an after-school programme. The first part was introduction of population, migration, economy and greenhouse gas emissions dynamics at both country and global levels aiming to prepare students for their roles that they will be playing in the second part. In the second part, students played the “World Climate” simulation game developed by Climate Interactive. In the third and final part of the programme, systems thinking tools were be used to see the foundational structures that create the problem.

Sena Yıldız Değirmenci earned her Master’s Degree from University of Oulu, Finland on Learning, Education and Technology. With a physics teacher background, she worked as a science teacher in Darüşşafaka Middle School. A teacher and learning specialist, her research interests are systems thinking and learning through technology. 

 

You can watch the recording here

Systems Thinking for Pre-College Education

Pre-College SIG Seminar Series consists of periodic online meetings on K-12 education to the Systems Thinking and System Dynamics communities. These virtual activities cover a wide range of topics on K-12 education from many subjects while bringing together academics, teachers, and students together for learning and lively discussion. Our seminars aim to promote and improve skills to effectively apply systems thinking and dynamic computer simulation to K-12 education.  All seminars and recordings are free for both members and the general public.

“A Strategy for Infusing Systems Thinking into K-12 Education”

In this short presentation, two models for infusing Systems Thinking into K-12 Education will be presented. The first model is a simple numerical simulation of infusion of systems thinking into K-12 education in Turkey. Based on this model a generic conceptual model will be introduced. This generic model is expected (actually hoped) to start a discussion on infusing systems thinking in pre-college education in the world. Both of the models show only the physical and institutional structure of the system we are trying to build. They lack the decision rules of the agents. The policies of the models will be presented as a separate layer over these models. Fundamental principles of policy levers are that the ST/SD infusion should: be open, free to teachers and schools, teacher oriented, curriculum adaptable, stock-flow based, with iterative learning. Policy levers will be discussed with examples from Turkey.

Emre Göktepe is a retired Industrial Engineer working for infusion of ST/SD into K-12 education. He is one of the founders of the Systems Thinking Association in Turkey. Beginning in 1988, his knowledge of systems thinking and system dynamics are mostly self-taught.

 “Strategy Implementation for Schools in Turkey”

The System Thinking Association in Turkey has worked to infuse the systems thinking approach into K-12 education since 2014 across different subjects. The strategy developed for infusion is applied by using an iterative approach. In the presentation the systems thinking infusion cycle, as well as lessons learnt from the cycle (which includes teacher training and mentoring, curriculum development and implementation, and experience sharing) will be introduced.

 


Meltem Ceylan Alibeyoğlu studied mathematics and she became a teacher. After working 5 years as an academic coordinator, she is now working in the same school as the R&D Coordinator for the middle and secondary school. She is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental sciences at Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. She is working in her school to implement a system thinking approach into the middle school curricula via numerical modeling. She is a member of the Systems Thinking Association in Turkey.

“Strategy Implementation for Faculties of Education in Universities in Turkey”

Within the strategic plan of the System Thinking Association – Turkey, one critical part is the inclusion of systems thinking courses in the education teacher training programs of education faculties at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
In this section of the webinar, a systems thinking course designed and implemented for three years in an M.A. program in Learning Sciences will be introduced.


Ülkem Yararbaş, a professor of nuclear medicine, serves on the medical faculty at Ege University. She is one of the founders of the Systems Thinking Association in Turkey. In addition to the elective systems thinking courses she gives to medical school students, she voluntarily supports the activities for the infusion of ST/SD in the education system conducted by System Thinking Association-Turkey.

 

You can watch the recording here

Systems Thinking for Pre-College Education

Pre-College SIG Seminar Series consists of periodic online meetings on K-12 education to the Systems Thinking and System Dynamics communities. These virtual activities cover a wide range of topics on K-12 education from many subjects while bringing together academics, teachers, and students together for learning and lively discussion. Our seminars aim to promote and improve skills to effectively apply systems thinking and dynamic computer simulation to K-12 education.  All seminars and recordings are free for both members and the general public.

“Pre-schoolers as Systems Thinkers: Testing the Water”

This study aims to cement the link between systems thinking (ST) and education for sustainability by presenting an example of systems education for young children. A learning framework was designed by developing a systems education guidebook focused on water and a learning framework based on the guidebook. The study was implemented over the course of four weeks with 32 children aged 5-6 in a pre-school in Turkey. To measure the outcomes, two ST assessment instruments (a shared reading and a concept mapping activity with interview protocols) were created. The children were pre-tested and post-tested with the assessment instruments using a mixed-method approach. The results revealed a significant development in the ST skills of the children. Children were more able to define system elements related to water and came to see invisible elements as parts of the system. The learning framework established high-quality causal relations between system elements related to water.

Şebnem Feriver earned her Ph.D. in early childhood education from Middle East Technical University. She has been working as a project manager, senior trainer, and advocacy expert for various national and international social development projects. Her research interests are systems thinking, transformative learning, teacher education, and early childhood education for sustainability.

 “Understanding Composting with Systems Thinking”

In this presentation, examples will be given of learning activities compatible with the Ministry of National Education (MONE) in Turkey and International Baccalaureate (IB)  programs that seek to encourage a systems thinking approach and to develop a new way of understanding for primary years students(6-10 ages). For this activity, behavior over time graphs, stock-flow diagrams and ladders of inference were developed and used as systems thinking tools. During the activity, it was observed that the children were capable of viewing events with the tools provided, understanding these tools, and using them to engage with the subject matter. As a result, they were found to respond more clearly to the questions contained in the International Baccalaureate inquiry program and to be enthusiastic about taking action as individuals.

Özgün Çetinkaya earned her Master’s Degree from Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey on Primary School Teaching. She worked as a Primary Years Program (PYP) Class Teacher for 6 years in Işıkkent Primary School. She is preparing to start a Ph.D. program and her research interest is Systems Thinking Approach in primary years.

“Teaching ‘Energy Conservation’ and ‘Household Waste’ with Systems Thinking Approach”

In 2020-2021 school year, systems thinking based on system dynamics approach and tools (behavior over time graphs and stock-flow diagrams) were introduced in Darüşşafaka Middle School in Turkey. The aim of this prototyping project was to develop and apply activities compatible with outcomes of the Ministry of National Education in Turkey (MONE). In the long term, with tried and tested activities, it will be possible to offer MoNE to include systems thinking in the curriculum of education in Turkey. After training of voluntary science and math teachers on basic systems thinking concepts using Stella Online thru the summer of 2020, topics from the national education curriculum were selected and activities were developed for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. A similar approach is used for selecting students and delivering lessons. In this presentation 2 of these activities will be presented: Energy Conservation and Household Waste. We think these two activities are good examples for an introduction to systems thinking with simple numerical models.

Sena Yıldız Değirmenci earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Oulu, Finland on Learning, Education, and Technology. With a physics teacher background, she worked as a science teacher in Darüşşafaka Middle School. As a teacher and learning specialist, her research interests are systems thinking and learning through technology.
Görkem Girgin completed his undergraduate studies in physics at Istanbul University. He has been a science teacher at Darüşşafaka Middle School for six years. He has been working on Systems Thinking at school for two years.

 

Top 10 Tips to Engage People with a System Dynamics Model

Top 10 Tips to Engage People with a System Dynamics Model

Andrew P. Jones is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive and a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan. Andrew is an expert on climate change and energy issues, a prominent System Dynamics modeler, and a keynote speaker.

In his webinar with System Dynamics Society, Jones presented his 10+1 tips to engage people with a System Dynamics model. Here’s a summary of the tips, but you can watch the recording below for all details!

All Seminar Series are free for members of the Society. Join us today and unlock all benefits!

1. Make it a challenging adventure on their terms in your virtual world
Make your model playful to entice curiosity about what it tests. This is a virtual world where people will experience something new. The challenging adventure or game is what we do mostly with the interface of the model. If you open the En-ROADS interface, you will see two main graphs, the main output, and several sliders. When playing with the sliders, your changes will be reflected in the graphs. Avoid telling people: “I’m going to show you how to do this”, instead, try saying: “On your terms, you’re going to have to figure out how to get that graph down to your target line”

“We do NOT model systems. We model problems.

2. Focus on mental models you want to improve
We do NOT model systems. We model problems. In System Dynamics, we define a problem as a behavior over time, a reference mode that we’re curious about why does it behave like that. We’re so curious about the problem that we develop a simulation to understand it. We build interfaces to improve the mental models of the stakeholders or clients. System Dynamics modelers know that mostly the mental models of decision-makers don’t match with the real world and how the actual system behaves. We don’t build interfaces to give access to policy levers in the system, but we are trying to leverage the necessary mental model improvements.

3. Make participants mentally simulate before running a scenario
If people don’t have a theory, they don’t notice the mental model they use to forecast what’s going to happen. Then they don’t get to learn and improve their understanding. Therefore, you must encourage people to anticipate, based on their own theories, what’s going to happen when running a scenario. No theory, no learning.” (Edward Deming)

“Tell people what to look at, let them guess what they are going to see, and then make it exciting like a movie”

4. Create a dynamic visual experience
Humans like to see change and it is important to employ this fact to get people to run and look at your graphs without losing their focus. Make people think and anticipate and then direct their eyes to what you want them to notice. If you do this well, you don’t even need to draw a Causal Loop Diagram because they are drawing it in their heads. Tell people what to look at, let them guess what they are going to see, and then make it exciting like a movie.

5. Set up participants to talk with each other
People learn socially and with hot-button issues like climate change, they need to know that their friends are not going to hate them if they change their minds. You need people to be processing the information collectively and socially with others. When presenting your model, stop frequently and advise: “Turn to the person next to you and discuss what you think of that conclusion”.

“Keep the discussion on improving system performance not on the tool you’re using”

6. Know along the way that you are playing at least seven roles

Try to present your model with the help of, at least, another person. Ideally, you need someone to facilitate the discussion while another runs the model. As a facilitator, you will be playing four roles including:

Coach – Helping participants to extract insights out of the model.
Professor – Teaching the audience theories and sharing factual information
Playwright – Creating an emotional journey of ups and downs.
Fellow Traveler – Being authentic, vulnerable, and just another person trying to solve a complex problem. If it is worth making a model about, it’s very important. If it is very important, you must deeply care about it.

You want the conversation to be around how to solve a complex problem together and what your audience is going to do about it. Keep the discussion on improving system performance not on “oh that’s a cool model how did you make that”. That’s all side information.

You want to minimize your roles in:
Tech – you must keep the conversation on improving the system performance, not the way or tool you have used to develop the model or create the graphs
Advocate – when people disagree with you, your job is not to fight them or disagree with them back, but to set up others to find the voice of your work.
Defender – Don’t get involved in the fight of “YOU HAVE A BAD MODEL!”. Avoid this fight as much as you can.

Read the article “Teamwork in Group Model Building” on the System Dynamics Review for more insights on strategies for efficient and effective model building in groups.

7. Build confidence and share testing as needed

You can share your tests and comparisons to other models and/or predictions to build stronger confidence. For instance, Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan built the En-ROADS with the best science available, using the data sources such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency. All the assumptions are available open-source in the 400-page reference guide. Many of the assumptions that someone might not believe in are changeable within the model. Several models do not have good literature of other scenarios to compare against, while En-ROADS can be compared with six integrated assessment models to build confidence.

8. Use loops and stock/flow diagrams only to illuminate
As you help people improve their intuition, sometimes you need to use loops and stock/flow diagrams, especially if you are presenting to a more technical audience but always connect it to the simulator. Avoid showing this to policymakers, they are usually not interested in the loops, instead, tell a story about reinforcing or balancing feedback.

9. Make space for feelings and processing

Deliver your presentation with excitement and intensity, but you need to slam on the brakes and let participants compromise with their feelings and do the necessary processing. You may create a scenario of success, and they get to create their vision, something that they would love to see. And it’s time to slam on the brakes and may invite them to 60 seconds of silence. Yes! It is weird but imagine 60 seconds of silence of people sitting with a scenario of success.

“Create the conditions where people are open to changing their minds”

10. Pay attention to three legs of the learning stool
Reflective Conversation – Create the conditions where people are open to changing their minds, surfacing and testing assumptions, and talking to their peers about improving their assumptions. You’ve got to make the space where people are open to being wrong and thinking differently.

Vision – Help people see a future that they fall in love with they just want it so badly that they see the gap between the vision they want and the reality that they feel and experience that tension in between. Orient towards what one genuinely cares about.

Systems Thinking – Explaining how a complex system works where time, cause, and effect are distant in time and space can be difficult, especially when you include stocks, flows, feedback loops, and other inner relationships. You can learn how to facilitate a training that uses systems thinking and System Dynamics for free with Climate Interactive learning resources

10 + 1. Give them the simulator

People need your help as a facilitator, but you must give them something to play with that naturally gives them the mental model improvements that you want and guides them towards committing themselves to action to improve system performance. As Buckminster Fuller states “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

Watch the recording below

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