STEM in Education Conference 2018 Workshop

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STEM Project: Solar System Modelling


In this workshop, participants will collaboratively create a 3D model (virtual world) of our solar system.



For this modelling of the solar system, we need to set the scales for both distance and time. The appropriate scales may depend on the modelling environments. For example, using a football field to represent the solar system, the sun can be scaled down to a ball with about 17 mm in diameter. This activiy helps students to understand the actual magnitude of our system. The solar system image above often creates misconceptions for young children and even adults to think the scale of our solar system does look like it.

In this workshop, we will be experimenting suitable scales for both distance and time. We will start from using the earth's diameter as 1 (meter) and one hour as one second in our modelling. That is, the scale ratio for distance will be 1/12756 or 0.00007839. (Note: 12,756 km is earth's diameter). 

Example of target virtual worlds:

Below are the Logo programming codes, which will be walked through in the workshop.

Tasks to do:

1. Create an account in VRMath2 community.

2. Practice coding the demo Sun-Earth model. We will do this together in the workshop.

3. Work in groups/pairs but still program individually on your own computer a selected task from below:

  • The Earth and Moon model
  • The Mars and its moons model
  • The Jupiter and its moons model
  • The Saturn and its ring and moons model
  • The Uranus and its ring and moons model
  • The Neptune and its ring and moons model
  • The Pluto and its moons model

4. Write a blog in VRMath2 about your model and modelling. An example of such blog can be found here.

5. If time, a pedagogical discussion about:

  • The role of computer programming in STEM.
  • What knowledge are constructed in coding?
  • What other ideas do we have for integrate computer programming in STEM education and/or education in general?