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DEWI BT SALAM D20151070973

Recently, technology has play an important role in enhancing the way teaching and
learning take place. As integration of technology evolves in the classroom, teachers now have
a wide variety of teaching tools available to help facilitate in students learning. One such tool
is simulation.

A simulation is actually a technique of imitating the behaviour of some situation or

system by means of an analogous model, situation, or apparatus, either to gain information
more conveniently or to train personnel. It can also be defined as the representation of a model
such as an object, system, or idea, where users can control or manipulate the parameter in the
simulation and get results. In general, simulation delivers virtual replication of products,
systems and processes in operationally valid environments. It can bring a model to life and
shows how a particular object or phenomenon will behave. Thus, simulation can be used as
analysis tool for predicting the effect of changes, and as a design tool to predict the performance
of new system.

Nowadays, simulation is used in many fields such as in health care, military application,
semiconductor manufacturing, safety engineering, business process simulation, risk analysis,
training, performance optimization, video games, and also education. Focusing on education,
simulation becomes one of the teaching and learning method used to conduct science
experiments and predict results.
STELLA Software As A Simulation Program

STELLA is one example of a simulation software that allows user to communicate with
the simulation to understand how a system works, its impacts and the outcomes. It is a short
form for Systems Thinking Experimental Learning Laboratory with Animation. One of the
goals of the development of STELLA is to enhance the learning process. STELLA has been
used in the education field as a teaching tool and has been utilized in a variety of research and
business applications. This software is easy to use as it has been used widely in Physics,
Chemistry to Public Policy, Literature and Calculus.

Using this software, users create a diagram of the interrelationships between the
components of a model or system. In effect, STELLA provides graphical representation of the
variables or differential equations that describe the problem of interest, and then solves it.
STELLA can also produce graphs and tables of data for any system modelled in the diagram.
How Simulation Motivates Students’ Learning

Simulations are a proven and useful tool to improve learning as well as a tool that
creates a safe and enjoyable learning environment, where experimentation and failure are
possible. Knowledge is not in knowing the theory only, but in the chance to apply the theory
in real situation. By adding a simulation to the learning process, it allows for experiment
exploration especially in science learning. As most simulators are designed with a flexible
variables that can be changed according to user’s needs, students will have the chance to
explore and experiment on their own by changing any parameters in the simulation program
and observe the outcomes. This will also help to train the students in inquiry-based learning
where they need to explore knowledge and make decision by themselves.

An educational simulation can also motivate students to engage in problem solving,

hypothesis testing, experiential learning, schema construction, and development of mental
models (Winn & Snyder, 1996; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). With better illustration of results
in the form of graphs, charts, and diagrams, students will have a better view of the process,
thus, increasing their interest in learning.

Another advantage of using simulation is that it allows user to analyse data and predict
outcomes easier. For instance, in the experiment simple population dynamics, we can
manipulate the variable by varying the value of the number of rats and owls in a palm oil plant.
Because of this, we can see the relationship between both variables and how they affect each
other. After that, we are able to predict what will happen next and be ready to face any
challenges or overcome any bad consequence in our experiment.

The use of simulation in teaching and learning will make it more interesting and
exciting as the learners can explore everything in various type of experiments. By having a
simulation software like Stella, students can explore it early before entering the class or when
they are not in the class. This can trigger students to be more inspired to study and discover a
new thing.

Another advantage of simulation teaching and learning is it can help the students to
learn the abstract content from the teachers effectively. From here, students are able to
understand the learning easily as the can use the simulation and not just imagine what they
have been taught by the teachers. Usually, if students only listen to the teachers or read notes,
they tend to forget what they have learned as it will be kept under short-term memory. By using
simulation, they will feel excited and eager to learn new things thus the learning will be more
meaningful and kept as long-term memory.

In analysing a case study or a system, students’ motivation increase as they try to play
with the parameters and explore until they get the actual requirement of the experiment. While
they explore new things; they will improve themselves. Students will know something more
than they know already. They will feel more curious to know the things in more detail and
makes them to be creative and innovative.

Last but not least, the last advantage of using simulation is the chance of errors is
minimal because of the short learning cycles, no programming is needed and very quick
development of complex models.

Drawbacks Of Simulation

Nevertheless, simulation also can give disadvantages due to certain reasons. First and
foremost, students that do not possess their own computer or limited availability of computers
cannot use simulation to help them in teaching and learning process. This is because they will
not the opportunity to explore again what they have learned in class compare to other students
who possess their own computer at home.

Besides that, the use of simulation can give a troubles to the users who do not know
how to use a computer. There are two major problems. firstly, they need to learn how to use
computer. Next, they will also need to learn about the simulation too. This can be a burden for
students as if they do not have much skills in computer and simulation. They will feel
unmotivated as they might be lag behind the others.

On top of that, many simulations require pre simulation lesson preparation. Due to this
reason, the time taken for users to use the simulation in a short period will be longer. Next, the
cost of software is quite expensive. There a trial version of some software but it will last only
for 30 days. Because of this, students cannot explore the software deeply because of the
limitation of time. In addition, limited scope of applicability and also limited flexibility. This
is because the variation of the topics in software is not too many. Some of the may not suit with
the users’ requirement.

The Experiment

STELLA is used in the experiment simple population dynamics. In this experiment, palm oil
planter use owls to combat the menace of rodent pests. Owls are used so that they can control
the rat population that damaging palm oil. The relationship between palm oil, owls and rats can
be seen using STELLA.

Result And Discussion

Diagram 1 : Normal condition of population

Based on Diagram 1, the graph shows about the ecosystem in palm oil plantation which
contains of the interaction between the population of rat, owl and oil palm fruit. In this
experiment, both population of rat and owl are the manipulated variable while the population
of oil palm is the responding variable. The population of rat was 2000 while the owl was 12 at
the beginning.
After running the simulation in normal condition, in the first few years, both population
of owl and rat decreased since it was the time for the rat and owl to adapt with the new
environment. But then, both population started to increase back. The rate growth of rat was
doubled compared the owl. We can simply said that, the rate growth of rat was higher that the
owl. But, until one stage, the population of rat started to decrease because the population of
owl was enough to control the rat with the prey and predator relationship. In this condition, the
population of oil palm was found to rise without any problem due to the balance of population
owl and rat. The total of rotten fruits that cause by the rat was smaller than the production of
good quality fruits.

Diagram 2 : Increasing both population of rat and owl

In Diagram 2, the population for both rat and owl were increased by changing the
parameters to 2800 for rat and 18 for owl. The result showed that, after a few years, both
population became zero due to the high competition between the animals in same species. Since
the rate growth of rat was higher, their population increased faster by the time. Hence, even
when the owl population was also increased, it was not enough to cover all the rat population.
During this time, the production of oil palm fruit decreased. This means that increasing the
population of rat affect the production of oil palm. The total of rotten fruits produced was higher
than the good quality fruits. The conclusion from this simulation, increasing both population
of rat and owl was actually did not help in increasing the production of oil palm but only
decreasing the production.

Diagram 3 : Changing population of owl only

For this diagram, the population of rat was set back to 2000 (like in the normal
condition) while the population of owl was decreased slightly to 16. The result showed that the
population of rat became reduced and approaching to zero due to the optimum population of
owl. For the population of owl, the population increased during the first few years but suddenly
there was an extreme declination because of the limited source of food (rat) and competition
among them. At some point, the rate growth of owl became zero due to the total of birth rates
and mortality rates became the same. When the population of owl at fixed state, the population
of rat started to increase back. During this time, the production of oil palm fruit became
decreased as the rat population was increased.

From this simulation other factor such as the ratio between pre and predator should be
considered too as they play an important role in this simulation.

Simulation requires students do by their own exploration and experiment-like modelling.

Simulation can be a powerful tool to help them understand the scientific concept better. This
method can help students to master certain concept in a lesser time compare to old method
teaching which is by ‘chalk and talk’. The learning experience will become more meaningful
as they learn something in an interesting way.