Giving the head a hand : constructing a microworld to build relationships with ideas in balance control
Author(s)Sipitakiat, Arnan, 1974-
Constructing a microworld to build relationships with ideas in balance control
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture. Program in Media Arts and Sciences.
David P. Cavallo.
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The major promise of computational technology for learning is in making discovery and acquisition of knowledge accessible to a wider range of people. The protean expressive and constructive nature of computational technology facilitates more powerful and effective learning methodologies. Enabling multiple forms of representation through computational approaches to thinking about various phenomena not only potentially opens new domains of knowledge, but also permits a re-structuration of domains by rethinking content and activity. This thesis provides an exemplar of this potential through children learning about Balance Control in Dynamic Systems (BCDS), which adds a particular value given that BCDS is considered too complex for young learners. A Balance Control Microworld was created to help learners think about how to program physical robots to perform balancing acts, such as balancing an inverted pendulum, based on the observations of their own body motions. A Spatial Computing Paradigm (SCP) was developed to allow learners to carry out various control operations using familiar 2D properties of on-screen objects. The physical robots have a dual-mode ability that allowed learners to record and observe motions while controlling the robots manually by hand as well as under program control. The study involved two groups of learners, ages 13 to 15, over twelve months. BCDS concepts that emerged include the role of speed, creating predictions, managing system states, and analyzing system's stability. Moreover, powerful ideas in computational and mathematical thinking helped enable thinking and understanding in BCDS as well as reflection over the whole process. The evolution of the Microworld was guided by a practice of applied epistemological anthropology.(cont.) An iterative process was used to identify important themes as they emerged during the course of the fieldwork. The resulting themes, as reflected in the case studies, come in three flavors: One focuses on ideas in BCDS that were learned by youth and could lead to deeper understanding in that rich field; the second shows how the tools and approach evolved to better support the learner along with the role of the researcher in the learning process; the third discusses the learning implications of a technology-enhanced Microworld by demonstrating common learning assumptions that need careful reconsideration.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, 2007.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Includes bibliographical references (p. 121-124).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture. Program in Media Arts and Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Architecture. Program in Media Arts and Sciences.