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Interactive Modeling and
Visualization in Undergraduate
Survey Courses
Daniel J. Bramer
M. K. Ramamurthy, R. B. Wilhelmson,
and D. P. Wojtowicz
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 Teacher-centered  student-centered
Encourage students to become more
involved in the learning process – creating a
positive learning environment.
Challenge  Develop constructivist
environments to get the student to not only
comprehend the what, where, and when of a
topic, but also ask how and why.
January 11, 2000
Interactive Learning Environment
 Integrate interactive modeling and
visualization tools into curriculum
 Permit students to discover
relationships on their own
 Compel students to ask why
 Engage both comprehensive and
analytical thought – much like a real
scientist  Role Playing
January 11, 2000
Why Java & Java3D?
 Means to include non-trivial interactive
 Computations performed on local
machine – reducing server demand
 Write once, run everywhere
 Object sharing
 3-D visualization environment
January 11, 2000
 Offers 3D
environments to
Java programming
January 11, 2000
Interdisciplinary Example
Ekman Layer Winds
 Interactive
 Grasp 3D concepts
 Model reacts to
 Questions help with
student analysis
 On the web
http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/guides/mtr/fw/bndy.rxml (not 3D)
January 11, 2000
Extensions / Activities
Pressure gradient force
Surface and Geostrophic wind
Combined 3D atmosphere/ocean view
 Goal-Oriented (instructor / self led)
 Discovery-Oriented (self discovery)
January 11, 2000
Other Multidisciplinary Examples
 Convection
 Atmosphere
 Ocean
 Mantle
 Currents
 Atmosphere
 Ocean
 Land/Sea Breezes
 Kinetic Gas Theory
January 11, 2000
Topics general to
multiple ESS
Why such topics?
 Building Block to many more advanced
levels of understanding
 Benefits from interactive elements
 Difficult to explain in static textbook
 Already being done (Iowa St., U. of
 more needed  esp. in lower level ideas
January 11, 2000
Framework / Implementation
 Supplement interactive modeling with
curricula and activities
 Allow students to discover relationships
 Initially on existing framework (WW2010)
 Ultimately on new framework geared to
allow students to ‘do science’ (Virtual
Exploratorium – Pandya et al., 2000)
January 11, 2000
Concluding Remarks
 Compelling the student to ask why fosters
analytical, more scientific thought
Interactivity enables for learning by doing
A consistent framework of content and
inquiries are as important (if not more) than
the interactive elements themselves
January 11, 2000
 This project is funded in part by
 National Science Foundation Division of
Undergraduate Education Grant #DUE-9972491
 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Education Technology Board Grant entitled
"Interactive Simulations to Aid Student-Centered
Learning in Introductory Courses"
January 11, 2000