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  1. Learning progressions allow researchers to describe key milestones along a pathway of thinking about a topic or practice that ranges from beginner to advanced. For learning related to science practices, some progressions can be abstracted from specific content; others are connected to specific science understandings. This research centers on the design of a middle school science game to support learning of science practices through simulated immersive experiences in which students engage in science practices of experimentation, modeling, and argumentation. This work-in-progress paper describes the application of current research on learning progressions to the design of the game interface and interactions for Aqualab, a game to teach middle school science practices related to aquatic ecosystems.
  2. Integrating computational thinking and scientific modeling in elementary school is challenging, but provides opportunities to meet important 21st century learning goals. Furthermore, computational modeling deepens the level of understanding of the modeling process and the phenomena being modeled, making science content more accessible. This paper presents findings from EcoMOD, a research project that blends an immersive virtual ecosystem and a 2D modeling environment to support computational modeling and ecosystem science learning in 3rd grade. As part of the study, students filled out pre- and post- surveys about science content understanding, affective measures, and scientific modeling. Findings for the overall student gains across the three dimensions of the surveys suggest that the EcoMOD curriculum was effective in learning ecosystem science content and practice, as well as developing an understanding of the value of computational modeling.