System Blocks: A Physical Interface for System Dynamics Learning

Oren Zuckerman, Mitchel Resnick


We present System Blocks, a physical interface that makes it easier for children to model and explore dynamic systems. A set of computationally enhanced blocks, made of wood and electronics, System Blocks can assist K-6 educators to teach the complex concepts of system dynamics and causalities. Learning to understand dynamic systems is an essential step in understanding the world around us. However, learning it at university, high school or even middle school level might be too late. By this age children have already developed their own models of how the world works. In this paper we will show how a set of physical objects can be used as a modeling and simulation tool, merging hands-on tinkering with computer simulation. Using blocks that behave as stocks, flows, variables and constants, our hope is that System Blocks will enable children younger than sixth grade to model, simulate and analyze systems that are meaningful to them.

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