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  1. 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.
  2. EcoMOD uses a design-based research approach to develop and study an elementary curriculum that combines an immersive virtual environment with interactive computer programming interface to support computational modeling, ecosystem science understanding, and causal reasoning. Here we report on changes in students’ perspectives on modeling before and after use of the fifteen day interactive, technology-based curriculum in a 3rd and 4th grade classroom. Pre-post interviews were conducted with ten students, and preliminary results suggest that students demonstrated an increased awareness that models are designed for a purpose, and the purposes students described aligned more closely with scientifically relevant activities like prediction, investigation and explanation. Students also increased in their level of sophistication related to ecosystem science understanding and causal reasoning.