There are several options available to you when conducting your Internal Assessment as part of the Biology diploma. These include:

1.Hands-on experiment

2.Use of database for analysis and modelling

3.Extraction and graphical analysis from a database

4.Simulation (interactive/open-ended)

5.Hybrid hands-on + spreadsheet/database

6.(Qualitative and quantitative data are valid).

This posting is focussing on computer simulations.

To explain what a computer simulation is and how they can be used take a look at the following video from the lawrence Livermore national Laboratory. You may not wish to watch all of it, and you may wish to jump to 3min. 24 seconds. The video refers to NetLogo (see below) at 18 minutes 49 seconds. If you move on to 26 minutes 45 seconds you will meet Luke who is in 9th grade and has created his own model through NetLogo that explores the light dependent reactions of photosynthesis. If the video fires your imagination then there are many videos on YouTube to take you further. However, many are are rather dated.


[youtube id=”QqUSJZ0HnaU”]


I would like to show you a website that will allow you to carry out a simulation, which is produced through Northwestern University. First you need to go HERE to download the software or run online. I found that Downloading the program was much more straight forward and provided me with greater support. You can also find the user manual HERE

Download NetLogo 
When you download the program you can go to file>models library>   and pop up will explain that the sample models are the most reliable. So when you open up >sample models> from the left panel of the pop-up, you will find a variety of simulations.   I chose BeeSmart-Hive Finding.
The beeSmart Master model shows the swarm intelligence of honeybees during their hive-finding process. A swarm of tens of thousands of honeybees can accurately pick the best new hive site available among dozens of potential choices through self-organizing behaviour (taken from the pop-up).
Unsure exactly what I was supposed to do, I then noted on the variable page there were some tabs at the top left / interface / Info / Code /.  Choosing >Info I was then taken to an explanatory page that explained the model and gave me suggestions as to how to use it. Once I had read that I was able to then try out the simulation.
The simulation produces large amounts of data (which I was unable to locate) however the graphs can be copy>pasted and by zooming the screen you are able to analyze yourself.