Abstract for: Building Slightly More Complex Models: Calculators vs. STELLA

If students are to develop the potential to effectively manage ubiquitous complex systems it is becoming increasing important to develop systems thinking concepts and model building skills formally at the pre-college level. This paper describes an experiment conducted in two secondary school classrooms in the Pacific northwestern United States to determine the importance of access to a relatively new modeling tool for students to enable them to successfully create and analyze simple models that are slight extensions of traditional models, as compared with using graphing calculators to build an analyze the same extended model scenarios. Does the modeling tool make a difference? If it does, access to such tools must be addressed before a broad spectrum of formal curriculum can incorporate the system dynamics method, at the pre-college level.