# NetLogo_Wolf Sheep Predation Model

Contributor
Uri Wilensky
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Simulation
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

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## Description

This NetLogo simulation, developed by Uri Wilensky at Northwestern University, models three populations (wolf, sheep, grass) within an ecosystem over time. Settings within the simulation help students to make sense of the phenomenon of carrying capacity by allowing them to mimic changes in initial population sizes, reproduction rates, and energy gain from food. By manipulating these settings, students can ask questions and then look for evidence to support their thinking about what factors affect carrying capacity and cause populations to be either stable or unstable over time. Instructional supports include background information, instructions for using the simulation, and suggestions for extending the simulation. In addition, two papers written by Wilensky are referenced. One is available online at: http://ccl.northwestern.edu/papers/wolfsheep.pdf.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
• High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

#### Performance Expectations

HS-LS2-1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on quantitative analysis and comparison of the relationships among interdependent factors including boundaries, resources, climate, and competition. Examples of mathematical comparisons could include graphs, charts, histograms, and population changes gathered from simulations or historical data sets.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include deriving mathematical equations to make comparisons.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Students engage in three-dimensional learning by manipulating values for three different factors that impact the stability of three different populations within an ecosystem. When the simulation is run, a graph of each population over time is shown. The size of the initial population may be set, allowing students to see the impact of different scales. Teachers may want to allow students to first familiarize themselves with the instructions and the simulation. Once students are comfortable with using the simulation, one suggestion is for students to ask a specific question, develop a hypothesis based on their question, and then design and execute an experiment that will provide evidence to either support or refute their hypothesis. Additional opportunities to support and defend their explanations with peers would increase the engagement and learning of this exercise.

#### Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Each place in this activity where students make decisions about settings within the simulation are natural places for peer discussion, review, and defense. Teachers may want to provide students with opportunities to construct explanations as well as to review and revise their explanations; extensions of individual responses would include working as teams or sharing their thoughts in other ways with their peers. Making their thinking explicit and sharing their thinking with others will help to deepen their understanding and their engagement. Taking snapshots of their graphs at the end of each run and including these graphs in their results will help to anchor their understanding of the phenomenon of carrying capacity and the factors that affect it.

#### Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Peer discussion/explanation/defense of ideas about limiting factors of all three populations are all natural extensions of this activity. If students manipulate the different settings within the simulation to see how they can achieve stability within this model ecosystem, they will gain an understanding of how these factors impact carrying capacity.

#### Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.