[MOSAIC-news] Friday's M-Cast: An Island for Letting Students Experiment and Collect Data

Daniel Kaplan kaplan at macalester.edu
Wed Feb 22 13:20:31 CST 2012

Friday Feb. 24, 4pm EST (3pm CST, 1pm PST)

The Island: Letting Students Experiment and Collect Data
Michael Bulmer, University of Queensland, Australia

It can be a challenge to find settings for teaching modeling that are
compelling to students.  The problem is that students in a mathematics or
statistics class are typically coming from a wide range of disciplines and
do not always share experience in any given area.  As regards the areas
where students do share experience ... well, perhaps best not to say too
much about those in class.

Michael Bulmer, a textbook author and an award-winning educator, faced this
problem in his 800-student statistics class at the University of
Queensland.  He wanted students to be able to collect data and model in
settings that are compelling to them. He wanted them to design and perform
their own experiments.  Students loved this, but often the topics they
chose were too simple and sometimes too dangerous.  (Example: How does your
reaction time change as you consume more and more and more alcohol?)
 Drawing on several years' experience with such projects, Michael
determined to provide a rich, safe, compelling, and ethical arena for
conducting experiments.

Michael has built his own island, populated with about 15,000 human-like,
computer-simulated creatures with detailed physiological processes and
personal-event histories: dating, marriage, illnesses, births, death.  It's
possible to carry out a large set of interventions and measurements (e.g.
blood alcohol) on individual Island inhabitants. His students can now carry
out experiments and conduct observations and surveys on a very broad range
of physiological and sociological quantities.   And so can your own

Join us for Friday's M-Cast and find out more about The Island and how you
can use it in your own classes, be they calculus, statistics, modeling, or
computer science.  Of course, you can always watch the recording that will
be posted soon after the M-Cast, but by joining us live you'll be able to
ask Michael for information to help you evaluate and plan how you to use
The Island in your own teaching.

Instructions for joining the M-Cast are at

M-CASTS are presented using the ReadyTalk computer conferencing system:

   1. Direct your browser to the ReadyTalk web
server<http://www.readytalk.com/> and
   enter access code 2923887. This provides the video component of theM-CAST
   2. For audio, telephone 866-740-1260 and at the voice prompt, enter the
   same access code: 2923887.

The audio is two-way: a conference call that befits the seminar style of
the event.
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