Extending the Boundaries of High School Physics: Introducing Computational Modeling of Complex Systems

Elon Langbeheim, Haim Edri, Nava Schulman, Samuel Safran, Edit Yerushalmi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter describes a high-school level program in which students use and develop computational models of complex chemical or biological systems. Learning computer programming together with the physics principles that come into play in modeling complex systems, is a challenging undertaking. Thus, the introduction of program-ming in the program was designed gradually; from interpreting the physical mean-ing of a computer code, through modifying a familiar code, to constructing a novel computational model. Our analysis reveals that while most students were capable of interpreting a familiar code, only half of them were able to modify it properly. We also found that prior programming knowledge strongly influences students’ ability to build their own computational models. Drawing on student responses to a feedback survey, we relate students’ attitudes towards learning in the program to their performance in it. Finally, we reflect on our own experience as teachers and curriculum developers who introduce advanced physics topics using computational tools
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhysics Teaching and Learning
Subtitle of host publicationChallenging the Paradigm
EditorsDennis W Sunal
PublisherInformation Age Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781641136563, 9781641136587
StatePublished - 2019


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