Workshop Overview

Note: this workshop has already taken place. See the workshop program page for presentations.

This one-day workshop is a follow-up to the Cutting Edge workshop Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences held in April 2010 at Carleton College. It is designed for instructors who are interested in incorporating numerical modeling exercises into their courses in order to:

  • Facilitate student understanding of complex systems
  • Develop students' quantitative and problem solving skills
  • Develop students' abilities to apply the scientific method

Workshop Goals

  • Introduce participants to STELLA, an iconographical box modeling software package particularly accessible to beginning modeling students
  • Give participants working STELLA models and exercises on a wide range of Earth and Environmental Science topics (radiometric decay, heat flow in permafrost, biogeochemical cycles, thermohaline circulation, basic climate models, and many others) that they can use in a variety of courses
  • Discuss how best to teach with these models
  • Develop additional modeling exercises on topics of interest to workshop participants

Workshop activities will include presentations, discussions, and opportunities to construct and experiment with simple numerical models in STELLA.

Modeling exercises produced at the workshop will be compiled into a collection to be housed on the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) website at Carleton College, from which they will be available to the entire Geoscience education community.



The workshop will be held on December 12, 2010 from 9:00 – 5:30. Participants must attend the entire workshop.


Participants are expected to:

  • Submit an idea for a modeling exercise to be developed, potentially, at the workshop
  • Be willing to work with other members of the workshop to develop this exercise to fruition, either at the workshop or in the weeks following
  • Bring a laptop to the workshop on which they have loaded a 30-day free trial version of STELLA (see


The cost for the workshop is $50 and will cover workshop materials, coffee breaks, and a catered lunch.


This workshop is open to undergraduate and graduate faculty. We encourage participants representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties. The workshop is limited to 25 participants.



The workshop is limited to the first 25 participants who register. Registrants who do not also submit a modeling exercise idea and pay the registration fee by December 1 may forfeit their place if there is a waiting list.

  1. Complete the registration form, which will help us tailor the workshop to the background and expectations of the audience. The registration deadline is November 22, 2010.
  2. Share an idea for a modeling exercise by December 1, 2010. We will choose some of the ideas submitted to be developed, during the workshop, into full-fledged teaching activities, ready to use in a classroom.
  3. Pay the registration fee by December 1, 2010.


The workshop will be held at the City College of San Francisco Ocean Campus. More information will be provided prior to the workshop.

For More Information

Please contact Kirsten Menking (kimenking at or David Bice (