About Us


The Learning Sciences and Biology, working in collaboration

Complex systems are widespread and the conceptual ability to describe and examine complex-systems-related concepts is generative, supporting youth in potentially understanding a wide range of issues across domains. The BioSim project takes a two-pronged approach to providing young students (grades K-3) with the tools to begin that journey of understanding, utilizing both participatory and computer-based simulations.

BeeSim is a participatory simulation where children enact the roles of honeybees and biological systems through the assistance of electronically-enhanced e-puppets. It is designed to enhance youths’ understanding of complex systems though novel combinations of play, reflection, interaction, and exploration.

Complementing youths’ participatory simulation is the BeeSign software, which was designed to support children in learning from a

third-person perspective. In the program, children are able to change variables affecting two honeybee hives displayed on an interactive whiteboard in side-by-side simulations windows. It encourages both systems thinking and group collaborations, allowing students to work together to construct understandings about how the challenges faced by individual bees relate to the aggregate behavior of the hive.

The world is filled with complex biological systems like honeybee hives and aquatic ecosystems. Systems like this are made up of many different components whose interactions make them successful. Understanding how they interact is challenging but powerful for understanding the world around us. BioSim capitalizes upon the alignment between participatory simulations and the play activities of young children, who are already apt to explore topics of interest to them through play-acting and games.

Meet the BioSim Team

The project is a collaboration of Drs. Kylie Peppler’s Creativity Labs and Joshua Danish’s Representations Activity Play and Technology (RAPT) lab, along with Dr. Armin Moczek of the Biology Department, all at Indiana University in Bloomington. 

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Dr. Kylie Peppler


Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences
An artist by training, Dr. Peppler engages in research that takes a constructionist orientation to learning and focuses on the intersection of arts, design, and new media.
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Dr. Joshua Danish


Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences
Dr. Danish’s research examines how people learn through interactions with other people, physical objects, and ideas, and how youth create representations while learning complex science concepts.
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Dr. Armin Moczek


Professor of Biology
Dr. Moczek appreciates all types of organismal diversity, but insects have always been especially fascinating to him. His research explores innovation and diversification in the natural world.

The following staff and graduate research assistants work on various aspects of the BioSim project.

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Shenshen Han


Programmer & Computation Specialist
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Janis Watson


Curriculum Specialist and Implementation Manager
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Naomi Thompson


Graduate Research Assistant
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Larice Thoroughgood


Graduate Research Assistant
The following undergraduates and schoolteachers worked the BioSim project on two NSF supplementary grants: Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience for Teachers (RET).
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Alex Dailey


Undergraduate
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Sam Lorentz


Undergraduate
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Em Jalkanen


Schoolteacher
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Tabitha Bow


Schoolteacher