New physics, chemistry and biology examples in Computational Thinking Lessons Section

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Phil Wagner

Apr 2, 2012, 10:48:10 AM4/2/12
Three new examples are posted to Google's Exploring Computational Thinking Lessons Page.

Last week the Google team was at NSTA 2012 demonstrating how the new examples can be used in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology classrooms allowing students to perform experiments by creating their own models and analyzing data! 

Students love visuals and in these examples they can see how to create pendulums, radioactive decay, perform DNA translation and more. Once inspired, students will come up with their own experiments thereby deepening their understanding and interest in science.

Scott Sinex

Sep 11, 2012, 1:45:07 PM9/11/12
The  radioactive decay visual in  Modeling in Chemistry using Computational Thinking needs to illustrate the production of the daughter nuclide when the parent decays.  When C-14 decays it produces N-14 (a stable atom) plus a beta particle.  The red balls (radioactive atoms) seem to just disappear!  This presents a serious misconception for students. 

Phil Wagner

Sep 11, 2012, 1:53:22 PM9/11/12
Scott, that's a fantastic point and as a former Navy Nuclear Engineer I couldn't agree more.
The goal of the model was to solely illustrate how half life is a result of stochastic processes while keeping the model simple. If you would like to create a version that is more complete please do so and I will include that in the lesson.

Thanks for your feedback!

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Phil Wagner | Instructional Designer EngEDU |

May 5, 2013, 4:15:51 PM5/5/13
Dear Phil,

I came across this thread of conversation about bringing computational thinking into science curriculum. I have been working on this idea to create a chemistry curriculum by engaging students in modelling practices through programming with Scratch. I have created a website to help promote the idea and foster collaboration among students as they create their chemistry models and simulations. I also have written a conceptual paper about how building science models help with their understanding of the concepts as well as programming. I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and this initiative more. I am very interested in this line of work and have spent the past year at Harvard working on this idea.

Thank you so much and looking forward to hearing from you.


On Monday, April 2, 2012 10:48:10 AM UTC-4, Phil Wagner wrote:

Apr 26, 2014, 10:50:49 PM4/26/14
The 3rd example for physics from switches the position-velocity and velocity-acceleration relationships:

"The position of an object is the derivative of its velocity, meaning the position is related to the rate of change of velocity over time. Similarly, velocity is the derivative of acceleration.

    position = Δvelocity/Δtime           and      velocity = Δacceleration/Δtime"


Also, I should note that when trying to access this forum through using Firefox, I get the following error:
"Load denied by X-Frame-Options: does not permit framing by"


Goog Educators

Apr 28, 2014, 1:29:43 PM4/28/14
Thank you for pointing that error out. I have corrected the doc. I will also look into the Firefox embedding issue.
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