Flowness + FlowBlocks : uncovering the dynamics of everyday life through playful modeling
Author(s)Zuckerman, Oren, 1970-
Uncovering the dynamics of everyday life through playful modeling
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture. Program In Media Arts and Sciences
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It is not easy to understand the dynamics underlying everyday life. The change around us is so ubiquitous; the processes governing change are invisible; the relationships between cause & effect are usually disconnected in time or space, and probabilistic causation adds uncertainty to the mix. This dissertation is about a new modeling language and a tangible simulation environment that together help children gain an intuitive understanding of the dynamics underlying everyday life phenomena, from fashion trends and financial markets fluctuations to vicious cycles of violence and virtuous cycles of popularity growth. I present the Flowness modeling language, a unique combination of Systems Thinking languages that results in an intuitive-to-understand yet computationally simulate-able language. I present FlowBlocks: a tangible learning technology designed in the spirit of early childhood construction kits (a field pioneered by Friedrich Froebel), with special attention to physical representation of abstract concepts (a field pioneered by Maria Montessori). FlowBlocks are a set of wooden blocks with embedded computation that simulate continuous flow using a moving light signal, making dynamic processes visible and manipulable.(cont.) I provide evidence that playful modeling using FlowBlocks is not only engaging for children but indeed helps them pay attention to the underlying causality of everyday life situations. Moreover, I show that a FlowBlocks workshop helps middle-school aged students understand core Systems Thinking concepts such as Inflows, Stocks, Outflows, Positive Feedback, and Negative Feedback - by generating their own analogies using FlowBlocks as an interactive model. I conclude that Flowness + FlowBlocks can serve as an effective learning aid to introduce children to Systems Thinking concepts in a collaborative playful modeling process, and develop children's intuitive understanding of the dynamics underlying everyday life situations.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 148-157).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture. Program In Media Arts and Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Architecture. Program In Media Arts and Sciences