The programs below are not intended for one-stop learning, but rather as a vehicle to spark imagination and ideas as well as a platform to test and expand ideas. Each program starts with fundamental concepts and processes and builds into exploring how they relate and/or interact to create more complex phenomena. Because complex behavior are difficult to study, use the simulations to explore systems through controlled experiments. Systematically change one variable to analyze the behavior while keeping the other variables set. Then move onto changing two or more variables at once. Explore "What if...?" ideas!
Considerable text is available within the software for each topic, ranging from overviews, summaries of big ideas, challenge questions, and their answers. There are also dedicated webpages with information, illustrations, additional supporting articles, videos, data, and experiments.
Learning Through SWAGs rather than WAGs
Being a meteorologist in the Air Force and dealing with pilots helped me realize that even though I didn't actually know the weather in the future (no one ever will with 100% certainty), I had to consistently build my understanding through applying fundamentals while also conveying my thought process to those using my forecast. Pilots would frequently ask "Is that your WAG or SWAG?". Wild-Ass Guess versus Scientific Wild-Ass Guess!
We all need practice applying what we already know to situations we've never seen before (to SWAG!), and there is a positive feedback (feedback that amplifies the response to a change) to our learning when we try. The open endedness to many of the software activities allows you to test your SWAG. Built-in challenge questions support and model this type of thinking, and the simulations' complex responses create a need to explore what one does know in order to work through the "why" and "how" questions that arise when surprised with the results.
The bottom line is the software activities are intended to support rich, deep learning experiences found in one or more of the learning arcs at Science Pickle.
To me, tree roots symbolize the complex strength gained from interconnected learning.
Study complex spatial relationships through self-generated visuals.
Turn visual information on and off or change its appearance to see new patterns and integrate layers of information into your analyses.
Change variables to your heart's content to explore complex processes and systems. Okay, not as many variables as found in nature, but there are a good number to get you started.
View data trends of scenarios you created to help answer your questions.
Science has so many unanswered questions, and they are often discovered by starting with "What if?"
Teachers, save high resolution graphics to create homework questions, solutions, answer keys, and test questions. Students, save your work to include in research papers, homework responses, or a notebook of ideas.
I will be keeping the software to be run through stand alone executables downloaded from the website. If you would like the software to be web-based and would be willing to pay a subscription fee, please send me an e-mail using the contact section on the home page.
Add / hide information to focus on patterns and trends in emitted thermal radiation.
Compare thermal radiation emitted from common objects.
How would Earth responded as our energy source changed?
As the Sun changes angle above the horizon throughout the day, the energy absorbed by the Earth's surface changes. The amount of radiation emitted and absorbed from objects results in changing temperature.
Radiation budgets may be a bit easier to think about when the intensity of the incoming light is constant when on and change instantly to completely off.
Example fabrics for the Heating/Cooling of Black Fabrics. The top image is in visible light, and the bottom is in near infrared. Data are included in the software.
View how the illumination of the Earth changes as it orbits the Sun. Change perspective to see what happens in the northern and southern hemisphere during the year.
Explore how the illumination at sunrise, local noon and sunset; hours of daylight; sun angle above the horizon at local noon; and total daily solar energy hitting the ground change at different locations throughout the year.
In addition to explaining Earth's seasons, climate regimes, and diurnal heating patterns, humans have used the apparent motion of the Sun in the sky to navigate and keep track of time and day of the year.
Compare how different latitudes are affected by the Sun's illumination throughout the year.
Use your understanding of the Sun's apparent motion to design awnings that will work at different latitudes to keep the summer sunlight from entering windows while allowing winter sunlight to enter and warm the room for free.
Explore shadows throughout the year to understand sun dials and how to design gardens and more energy efficient buildings.
Download Sun-Earth Connection software.
Change the obliquity, eccentricity, and precession to visualize how the illumination of the planet changes during its orbit.
Explore how the illumination at sunrise, local noon and sunset; hours of daylight; star angle above the horizon at local noon; and total daily solar energy hitting the ground change at different locations as orbital parameters change.
Viewing from the planet's surface, explore how the star's apparent motion across the sky create the planet's seasons, climate regimes, and diurnal heating patterns.
Compare how different latitudes are affected by the star's illumination throughout the year.
Explore the range of change of an illumination variable for latitudes on the planet.
Explore how the planet would differ from Earth - will it be hotter, colder, more extreme, milder, and will it support life the same way Earth does?
Download Star-Planet Connection software.
Graphically and mathematically explore quantities that have both magnitude and direction.
Navigate the world of color using vectors.
Explore the two most common ways to add vectors: graphically and mathematically.
Analyze sets of interacting forces to see if they are balanced or not.
Change pressure gradient, Coriolis, friction, and centrifugal forces to see how wind changes when pushed by straight isobars or those around high and low pressure centers.
Explore global wind patterns throughout the year - and at different times during Earth's history.