Coding in scientific modeling lessons (CS-ModeL)

  • Lucas VasconcelosEmail author
  • ChanMin Kim
Development Article


Learning standards for K-12 science education emphasize the importance of engaging students in practices that scientists perform in their profession. K-12 teachers are expected to engage students in scientific modeling, which entails constructing, testing, evaluating, and revising their own models of science phenomena while pursuing an epistemic goal. However, conceptualizing models of unobservable science phenomena without support is daunting for students. We propose that creating science simulations with block-based coding in Scratch is a promising approach to support student’s scientific modeling and learning to code. However, research indicates that preservice and in-service science teachers often hold a deficient understanding of scientific modeling instruction, and lack experience teaching with coding. Professional learning on use of block-based coding in scientific modeling instruction is needed though such interdisciplinary research is scarce. In this paper, we review pertinent literature and propose five guidelines for teacher educators striving to offer such professional learning. The guidelines informed the design and development of coding in scientific modeling lessons (CS-ModeL), which is a module and an online tool for scaffolding teachers’ learning to code science simulations, and to integrate simulation coding activities into scientific modeling lessons, respectively. We discuss how guidelines informed the design and development of CS-ModeL, as well as plans for future research.


Scientific modeling Epistemic agency Block-based coding Simulations STEM teaching 



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Penn State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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