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Creating and Experimenting with Models

Presenters: Joseph Krajcik, James Lester, Robert Taylor

Creating models is an essential aspect of doing science. Three presenters, working in two different locales and grade levels, will share their current work, building upon past research and development projects. Krajcik will share experiences using a Web-based tool to create dynamic system models for making sense of phenomena. Lester and Taylor will focus on an intelligent cyberlearning system for interactive scientific modeling with multimedia interfaces, allowing students to create and experiment with interactive models of physical phenomena.


Joseph Krajcik, Director, CREATE for STEM Institute, Michigan State University
Joseph Krajcik is director of the CREATE for STEM Institute and a faculty member in science education at Michigan State University. A former high school chemistry and physical science teacher, he spent 21 years at the University of Michigan before coming to Michigan State in 2011. During his career, he has focused on working with science teachers to reform science teaching practices to promote students’ engagement in and learning of science. He was PI on an NSF project that aims to design, develop, and test the next generation of middle school curriculum materials to engage students in obtaining deep understandings of science content and practices. He also served as head of the Physical Science Design Team to develop the NGSS. Krajcik serves as co-editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. He has authored and co-authored curriculum materials, books, software, and over 100 manuscripts, and makes frequent presentations at international, national, and regional conferences. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served as president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, from which he received the Distinguished Contributions to Science Education Through Research Award in 2010. Krajcik has a PhD from the University of Iowa. 

James C. Lester, Distinguished Professor, North Carolina State University
James C. Lester is a distinguished professor of computer science and director of the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). His research centers on personalized learning technologies that utilize artificial intelligence to create learning experiences that are designed to be both highly effective and highly engaging. Over the past decade his work has focused on adaptive learning environments for K–12 STEM education that feature scientific modeling, game-based learning, and intelligent virtual agents. His lab also creates next-generation AI-based learning technologies spanning immersive narrative-centered learning, affective computing, and natural language tutorial dialogue systems. Lester has served as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, as conference co-chair for the International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, and as program chair for the ACM Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and the International Conference on Foundations of Digital Games. The adaptive learning environments he and his colleagues develop have been used by thousands of students in K–12 classrooms. 

Robert Taylor, Senior Research Software Engineer, North Carolina State University
Robert Taylor is a senior research software engineer in the Center for Educational Informatics at North Carolina State University. His primary responsibilities center on designing and developing intelligent learning environments and game-based learning environments that leverage artificial intelligence algorithms and techniques, game technologies, and cloud-based computing. This work includes creating cutting-edge artificial intelligence research platforms while deploying scalable software systems. Most recently, he led software design and development for the Leonardo Project, an interactive scientific modeling environment for elementary science education. Students in grades 4 and 5 use Leonardo’s intelligent virtual science notebooks to create and experiment with interactive models of physical phenomena. As students interact with the digital notebook, Leonardo’s intelligent virtual tutors engage them in meaning-­making exchanges in which students interactively devise explanations and make predictions. Leonardo and other adaptive learning environments that Taylor has built have been used by thousands of students in elementary STEM classrooms across the United States. He earned a BS and an ME in Engineering Mathematics and Computer Science from University of Louisville.