Professor Uri Wilensky's NetLogo Software Selected for National Science Olympiad

Professor Uri Wilensky's NetLogo Software Selected for National Science Olympiad

As top science students competing in the National Science Olympiad tournament created computer models for their event, they relied on software created by School of Education and Social Policy professor Uri Wilensky.

NetLogo is a multi-agent programmable modeling environment used by tens of thousands of students, teachers and researchers worldwide. It is authored by Wilensky and developed at the Center for Connected Learning to be useful for everyone from elementary school students to graduate students.

The 2010 National Science Olympiad tournament was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from May 20 to 22. At this prestigious event, 120 of the nation's most competitive Science Olympiad 15-member teams competed in 46 events in science fields ranging from biology, chemistry and physics to computer science, engineering and astronomy. The goal of Science Olympiad is to increase interest in science among students in grades K-12.

Students in the Epidemic Challenge event for the "Model This!" division of the Science Olympiad used NetLogo to model a disease outbreak. Students were asked to imagine that a recent outbreak of swine flu exposed several weaknesses in the world's ability to respond to the sudden emergence of a widespread illness. They used NetLogo for computer modeling to test prevention and treatment strategies with normal and at-risk populations.

Students were able to download the free NetLogo software at The Center for Connected Learning offers a collection of computer models has a variety of disease models that helped the students prepare for the competition.

Image caption:
A NetLogo computer model predicts the spread of a forest fire. 

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/21/10