Teach the Earth > Complex Systems > Teaching with Computer Models > NetLogo

Teaching Complex Systems with NetLogo

NetLogo Aquarium Macro-Level Model. Image courtesy of Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Rutgers University, from NetLogo software created by Wilensky, U., 1999. Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Click image to enlarge.

NetLogo is a programmable modeling environment for modeling complex systems of natural and social phenomena that develop over time. It allows the user to control variables and observe micro and macro level patterns of behavior. NetLogo has a Models Library of simulations that can be run as they are or modified to satisfy the user's inquiry. It is a standalone application written in Java so it can run on all major platforms. From the NetLogo website , the user can download NetLogo, including the Models Library, for free, and can sign up for various mailing lists.

Teaching Activities

  • Global Climate Change - This activity explores the role of energy in global climate change. Students explore NetLogo models of climate and learn about cumulative effects.
  • The Standing Ovation Problem for NetLogo - The assignment asks students to construct an agent-based model of a standing ovation. It provides some basic code that allows them to initialize a population of seated event attendees and asks them to consider how a standing ovation might propagate through the crowd.
  • Zero-Intelligence Trading in Markets - In the Zero-Intelligence Trader lab, students run computerized experiments based on the work of Gode and Sunder (1993). The agent-based simulation model involves zero-inteligence buyers and sellers trading in a simple order-book market by placing randomly determined bids and asks. The students look for how the structural parameters of the market affect market efficiency. The model is designed to serve as either a follow-up to the students participating in a classroom experiment or as a stand-alone.
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