Supporting the Learning of Evolution Theory Using an Educational Simulator

Students: Diego Vaz Caetano, Josué Dias Cardoso and Luana Guimarães Piani Ferreira
Collaborators: Raphael Abreu, João Quadros, Joel Santos
Advisors: Leonardo Lignani, Eduardo Ogasawara

Abstract

The use of simulators as educational tools aims to increase students’ engagement in classes and seems to help them to understand difficult concepts. They can be used in natural science classes as an alternative for practical or experimental approaches when the time and space scales required are not compatible with the scholar environment. Through interactive simulators, students can explore the topic under study. Discoveries are made, predictions are confirmed or refuted by subsequent simulations, enhancing the comprehension of the phenomenon. This article presents Sim-Evolution, an educational simulator to help teachers presenting Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (TENS). Our intention with Sim-Evolution is to enable students to practice and comprehend TENS as a process that occurs at the population level. Given that it focuses on High School level, its interface was designed to be joyful, helping to engage students. We developed Sim-Evolution focusing on three basic biological principles that structure TENS: (i) variation, (ii) heredity and (iii) selection. Also, simulation design is based on Mendelian Genetics and population genetics. However, we intended that knowledge of these areas should not be a requisite for using Sim-Evolution. Therefore, students can observe laws of evolution and the genetic properties (genotypes) by analyzing species phenotypes and surviving populations. Sim-Evolution was evaluated by High-School students in a Biology class. Experiments indicate that students could observe TENS as a population process and were able to identify the principles of variation, heredity, and selection by indirect analysis from living species phenotypes.

App

Sim-Evolution at Google Play store
User manual

 

Experimental Evaluation

Evaluation Procedure

Evaluation Form

Source code at GitHub


Privacy policy

We understand that user privacy must be protected and, while our application does not collect any personal information from the user or device, we are committed to transparency and therefore feel obligated to develop this Privacy Policy, the To help the user understand what data we collect, why we collect them, and what we do with them.

Information we collect and how we use it

Our application has educational purposes and was developed under the coordination of the Computer Science Departament of CEFET/RJ (http://eic.cefet-rj.br). We collect the following application information for statistical research purposes:

  • Application Name
  • Application version
  • Date / Time of application usage
  • Simulation duration time (reported in simulation time counter)
  • Type of environment used for the simulation (Forest, Savannah or Custom)
  • Types of birds selected for the beginning of the simulation
  • Types of birds existing at the close of the simulation, with their respective quantities

The information is collected and transmitted automatically at the end of each simulation when the user exits the simulation screen.

We use this information for application usage search purposes and also for possible application feature enhancements.

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Our Privacy Policy applies to Sim-Evolution and its built-in features but excludes services that Google offers on Android devices.

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About Eduardo Ogasawara
I am a Professor of the Computer Science Department of the Federal Center for Technological Education of Rio de Janeiro (CEFET / RJ) since 2010. I hold a PhD in Systems Engineering and Computer Science at COPPE / UFRJ. Between 2000 and 2007 I worked in the Information Technology (IT) field where I acquired extensive experience in workflows and project management. I have solid background in the Databases and my primary interest is Data Science. He currently studies space-time series, parallel and distributed processing, and data preprocessing methods. I am a member of the IEEE, ACM, INNS, and SBC. Throughout my career I have been presenting consistent number of published articles and projects approved by the funding agencies, such as CNPq and FAPERJ. I am also reviewer of several international journals, such as VLDB Journal, IEEE Transactions on Service Computing and The Journal of Systems and Software. Currently, I am heading the Post-Graduate Program in Computer Science (PPCIC) of CEFET / RJ.

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