Here’s a definition of modeling I’ve offered in a couple of conference sessions:
Describing the world with mathematics, in order to make reasoned predictions and decisions.
That I borrow heavily from Dan Meyer is readily apparent, especially when considering some of the activities I’ve created over the last couple of years (e.g., Charge!, LEGO Prices, Predicting Movie Ticket Prices, Mocha Modeling).
In each of those activities, students build a model in order to make a prediction, ideally a more precise one than the wild estimate I typically call for at the beginning.
A couple weeks ago, a colleague of mine (Jason Merrill) invited me to expand my definition a bit by considering how modeling often plays out in physics. Rather than a method for making precise predictions, modeling in the physics classroom (or laboratory) may sometimes offer a process for inferring material properties and physical constants.
Physics Teachers, Help Me Out
Do Jason’s comments resonate with your experience? If so, can you share any exemplar activities in that inferring properties and constants vein?
Math Teachers, What Say You?
How often does your modeling work serve as a means for making predictions? How often does it serve as a means for something else? How would you expand (or revise) the definition of modeling I’ve offered above?