Model-It™ is a computer modeling tool that is used for simulating complex systems and scientific phenomena through the development of models. Students build their understanding around scientific concepts while analyzing qualitative data, and building, testing and evaluating their own models (Metcalf, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2000, in Jacobson, & Kozma, 2000). The goal of the Model-It™ software is to facilitate building dynamic models of scientific phenomena, as well as simulations through which to test, verify and analyze results. The process of dynamic modeling is challenging for the researchers in the sense that there needs to be a context adjusted to the learning needs, the appropriate level of knowledge, and with the adequate flexibility for understanding complex scientific phenomena.
The idea of scaffolding as a strategy to facilitate learners solve complex problems has led to the development of theories, tools and designs that attempt to address issues for improving learning. Scaffolding is defined as "the process by which a teacher or a more knowledgeable peer provides assistance that enables the learners to succeed in problems that would otherwise be too difficult" (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976; Palinscar, 1998; Stone, 1998; in Quintana et al., 2004, p.338). With Model-It™ students experience scientific inquiry by engaging in investigating complex and sophisticated concepts. They identify patterns, provide argumentation around scientific processes, and envision dynamic systems. The software can successfully scaffold scientific understanding through the overall process of designing, developing and running the scientific models.
Students’ scientific understanding is being scaffolded in the following ways (as listed on goknow):
• building, testing, and evaluating qualitative models, without needing to know the underlying calculus
• creating models that represent their theories about the scientific phenomena studied in class
• running simulations to test and analyze their models
• improving communication, decision making, critical thinking, and listening skills through discussion and analysis• using supplemental curriculum units covering several content areas to integrate standards-based content with Model-It™ technology