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Research has revealed that young students can reason and understand complex science concepts and can engage at relatively sophisticated levels in computer programming. Developing scientific and computational understanding depends upon a strong foundation in elementary school, thus, this project will introduce third grade students to computational thinking (abstraction, data representation, and algorithms), computer modeling, and environmental systems thinking through an interdisciplinary, virtual reality curriculum on ecosystems. The curriculum will scaffold student understanding of computational modeling as a core practice used to explore and understand ecosystem interactions, such as the interconnection of habitats within an ecosystem and species survival. Integrating computer modeling in the elementary science curriculum advances important 21st century learning goals regarding computational thinking within disciplinary contexts.

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