Bio Education Software FAQ (1 of 3)

Eli Meir meir at zoology.washington.edu
Thu Sep 21 18:17:52 EST 1995


Biology Education Software FAQ
©Copyright 1995 by Eli Meir and the Biology Education Software
Taskforce of the 
					University of Washington
All Rights Reserved

This document is freely redistributable as long as absolutely no money
is charged and no 
changes are made to the document.


(1)  What is in this FAQ?
	(1a)	Who is B.E.S.T. ?
	(1b)	Where to address comments, queries, etc..
	(1c)	How we picked software to include here
	(1d) 	What information we include about each piece of software we
review
	(1e)	How to submit software for inclusion on this list

(2)  Resources for information on biology education software
	(2a)	BioQuest
	(2b)	CTI Centre for Biology
	(2c)	NECUSE Biology Software Reviews
	(2d)	Quarterly Review of Biology

(3)  Ecology and Evolution Software
	(3a)	Biota
	(3b)	Environmental Decision Making
	(3c)	Evolve
	(3d)	PopGen
	(3e)	Energy Flow Stella Stack
	(3f)	Island Biogeography StellaStack
	(3g)	Max. Sustainable Yield Stella Stack
	(3h)	Carbon Cycle Stella Stack
	(3i)	Population Momentum Stella Stack
	(3j)	Blind Watchmaker
	(3k)	Simlife
	(3l)	Populus
	(3m)	PopDyn
	(3n)	Fish Farm

(4)  Physiology and Neurobiology
	(4a)	Neuro 140
	(4b)	Axon
	(4c)	Isolated Heart Laboratories
	(4d)	Neurosim II
	(4e)	Frog Dissection and other dissection tutorials
	(4f)	Interactive Frog Dissection
	(4g)	NeuroLab
	(4h)	SymBioSys
	(4i)	Quantitative Circulatory Physiology
	(4j)	Brainiac

(5)  Cell, Molecular Biology and Genetics
	(5a)	Genetics Construction Kit
	(5b)	Virtual Fly Lab
	(5c)	SequenceIt!
	(5d)	PurifyIt!
	(5e)	RateIt!
	(5f)	Enzyme
	(5g)	MacMolecule
	(5h)	Visual Genetics
	(5i)	Virtual Genetics Laboratory
	(5j)	Photosynthesis Multimedia Textbook
	(5k)	Enzyme Kinetics Stella Stack

(6)  General purpose software useful in education
	(6a)	Stella
	(6b)	Extend
	(6c)	Mathematica
	(6d)	Maple
	(6e)	Matlab
	(6f)	LabView
	(6g)	SuperScope
	(6h)	Spike Studio

(7)  Textbooks on CD

(8)  Mosaic sites and other random stuff
	(8a)	Institute for Molecular Virology 
	(8b)	BioCatalog
	(8c)	Neurosciences on the Internet
	(8d)	Quantitative Training for Life Sciences

(9)  Acknowledments

-----------------------------------------------

(1a)  Who is B.E.S.T.

B.E.S.T.  stands for Biology Education Software Taskforce of the
University of 
Washington.  We are not quite as official as that title makes us sound,
but have done quite 
a bit of work looking at educational software for use in the biology
classes here at UW.  
The group is composed of several graduate students and PhDs from the
Department of 
Zoology at the UW.  In addition to gathering software, we have run
classes here 
examining biology education software, have invited notable people in
the field to come 
and speak at our departmental seminars, and some of us are authors of
educational and 
other software.  Among the primary people involved in the group are
Adrian Sun, George 
Gilchrist, Tarif Awad, Creagh Bruener, David Baldwin,  Kevin Obrien,
and Eli Meir (the 
author of this FAQ).  

We are not claiming to be especially knowledgable or gifted when it
comes to educational 
software, nor are we claiming to be teachers who are speaking from
years of experience 
in using computers in education.  We have provided some references to
articles and 
reviews by people who are much more knowledgable than we are.  Rather,
based on our 
experience as students, teachers, and authors of materials for
undergraduate education, we 
aim to present what we think are the most useful pieces of software for
undergraduate 
education in various branches of biology.  We hope this will provide a
starting point for 
instructors in other universities who are looking for good software to
use in their classes.

(1b)  Where to address comments, queries, etc..
You can get in touch with us by emailing to
best at zoology.washington.edu, or by 
emailing the author of this document at meir at zoology.washington.edu. 
You can also get 
us through snail mail by sending to 
Eli Meir
B.E.S.T.
Dept. of Zoology, NJ-15
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

(1c)  How we picked software to include here

In searching for educational software, we quickly realized that there
is lot of stuff out 
there which is not very interesting.  We did not want to include all of
that in our list, so 
we have weeded out a lot of software.  This weeding is obviously
subjective.  What one 
person considers junk might be exactly what another person is
interested in.  Originally I 
was going to spell out these biases in this FAQ, but due to lack of
time, here is a quick 
summary.

First of all, anything that did not work on a reasonably new computer
and operating 
system was excluded.  We also excluded most software which did not run
on a Macintosh 
or IBM machine, since that is what most students and teachers have
access to.  There is 
some bias towards Macintosh software, since that is the computer which
most of us have 
sitting on our desks, but we included any good IBM software we came
across as well, and 
have also included a small amount of UNIX software.

Secondly, we have a bias against software which puts a textbook or a
study guide onto 
the computer and claims that just the fact its on a computer screen
makes it somehow 
superior.  We also did not particularly like most software whose only
innovation was a bit 
of hypertext capability (ie - click on a word, it gives you a
definition of the word or takes 
you somewhere else in the document).  We do like software that uses the
computer to do 
things which would be hard or impossible to do on paper.  We especially
like simulations 
and other programs which let a student perform experiments.

(1d)  What information we include about each piece of software we
review

We have tried to write three paragraphs about each piece of software we
have seen.  The 
first paragraph gives our description of what the software does.  The
second paragraph is 
a short review of the software.  The third paragraph gives information
on how to get the 
software, and approximate price range if we know it.  In the price
range, Free means free, 
Low means $100 or less, and High means more than $100.  These are by no
means 
gauranteed to be accurate.

We have NOT class tested most of this software, so the reviews are
based on our 
impressions as students and teachers.  In general, only one or two
people have looked at 
each piece of software, and most titles have only been looked at by the
author of this 
FAQ.  Because of this lack of class testing and the small number of
reviewers, we have 
limited each review to a single short paragraph which states what we
see as the strengths 
and weaknesses of the package, and our gut feeling about how useful we
think it is.  We 
hope that this short review will help users of this document to decide
what software they 
are interesting in looking for on their own, but do not intend it as an
authoritative 
statement on the value of the software.  Also note that we have in
essence given favorable 
reviews to all software included here, since quite a bit of software
was left off this list 
(well over 50% of what we looked at is not on here).

If someone other than the author of this FAQ contributed to a review,
their initials are 
given next to the software title.

(1e)  How to submit software for inclusion on this list

We welcome new software, and will be happy to include it in the list if
it meets our 
criteria as discussed above in (1c).  However, there are a couple
conditions.

(I)  We will only accept software for review from the authors or
publishers of the 
software, or on an original store-bought disk with the manual.  This
does not mean that 
others cannot tell us about software they have used and liked.  We
really want to hear 
about software from everyone, and if you inform us of a piece of
software and tell us how 
to get ahold of it, we will do our best to get a copy and look at it. 
However, to protect us 
from copyright problems, virus problems, etc., we would rather only
receive software 
from the actual authors, or from anonymous ftp sites if the software is
in the public 
domain.  When cost is a factor, we may review demo versions of software
instead of the 
full package.

(II)  We prefer reviewing real copies of a piece of software, rather
than a demo version, 
and if we have only seen a demo version then we will mention this in
our review.

(III)  We prefer receiving software on a diskette.  We also would like
to see a manual, or 
any other documentation which exists.  The documentation can be
included as a file on 
the disk, if you prefer, in either ASCII, Microsoft Word, or
Wordperfect formats (UNIX 
software can have documentation in standard unix formats).  If you want
to send software 
to us via the network, please inform us beforehand that you plan to
send us something.  
For our protection, we may still request something in writing stating
that you are the 
author (or at least a phone number).

(IV)  We would also welcome contributions from people outside the group
here at UW.  
If you would like to submit a review for this FAQ, please write it in
the form of the other 
descriptions here, and send it to us with some indication of how you
have used the 
software and what your qualification is to review it (it does not have
to be very high, but 
we would like to know).  If we are satisfied that it is a fair
description of the program, 
then we will include it in the next release of the FAQ.  We will also
try to get ahold of a 
copy of the program ourselves to look at.


(2)  Resources for information on biology education software

(2a)  BioQuest

This is a consortium of software developers and educators which have
gotten together to 
produce a CD full of really good biology education software.  Many of
their programs are 
described in this document, and you can get fuller descriptions of
their programs by 
getting their Intro_to_BioQuest hypercard stack off of the internet. 
Before putting a piece 
of software on their CD, they subject it to a pretty rigorous peer
review process, and make 
sure its been tested in many classrooms.  I think that this is some of
the best stuff out 
there, and well worth the price (which is quite cheap - under $100 last
time I checked for 
all of their programs for a single user, more expensive for a site
license).

In addition to software, the BioQuest group has developed a whole
philosophy of 
education, which they use to guide their development and selection of
educational 
software.  This philosophy revolves around the three Ps -
Problem-posing, Problem-
solving, and peer-Pursuasion.  They describe this philosophy better
than I can here, so I 
will let you get ahold of it yourself.  It is well worth reading their
material, even if you do 
not end up using their software.

To get the Intro_to_BioQuest hypercard stack, look in:
	http://www.biology.iupui.edu/BioQUEST/./
of in one of the macintosh anonymous ftp sites (info_mac, etc.).

To order the BioQuest CD, send email to asdg at umdd.umd.edu, or write to
		Academic Software Development Group
		Computer Science Center
		University of Maryland
		College Park, MD 20742
For information, you can write to BioQuest at beloit.edu

(2b)  CTI Centre for Biology

This is a gopher site which you can access with mosaic that includes
reviews of some 650 
pieces of software for teaching biology.  The reviews are pretty short,
saying the name of 
the software, the distrributor, what types of computer it works on, and
giving a short 
paragraph of description.  There is also a warning at the beginning
that the information 
has not been kept up to date since 1991, although there are reviews of
software that have 
come out since then.  The big advantage to this database is that it is
the most 
comprehensive of any we have seen - over 650 products are listed - so
it might be a good 
place to start a search.

Get there using Mosaic - http://www.liv.ac.uk/ctibiol.html

(2c)  NECUSE Biology Software Reviews

This is a book of biology software descriptions and reviews, with more
information than 
what is included here.  The 1994 version covers almost 50 titles.  The
reviews are 
organized by topic, with various indexes in the back.  Along with
information such as 
author, supplier, cost, computer system, etc., is a short description
of the program, a set of 
poor/good/excellent grades for a number of criteria, and a synopsis of
the programs 
strengths and weaknesses.  There is also an extensive list of
videodisks in the back, with 
just one line of description and a price and supplier.

To get this book, write to Carol Ann Paul at Wellesley College, or
Graham Kent at Smith 
College (Dept. of Biological Sciences, Smith College, Northampton, MA
01063).

(2d)  Quarterly Review of Biology

The Quarterly Review of Biology is one of the few sources for academic
reviews of 
software interesting to biologists.  Each issue includes a few software
reviews, not all of 
educational software, but quite a few are.  The reviews are generally
written by an expert 
in the field, and are pretty good (much more thorough than those here).




(3)  Ecology and Evolution Software


(3a)  Biota

This program lets you play around with differential equation models in
ecology.  It is 
very different, however, than some of the other ecology programs listed
here in that it lets 
you mix and match classical ecological equations with each other to
make systems of 
equations.  This works as follows.  You can have up to 10 different
species and/or 
ecosystem components.  Each species has an equation which governs its
growth and 
death, for instance exponential, logistic, lotka-volterra, and so on. 
You may also add in 
interactions between the species, such as specifying one of the species
as a predator on 
another one, again governed by classical differential or differencce
equations.  Each 
equation has a set of parameters that you can set.  You then run the
models and watch 
population sizes over time of each species.  You can also sample the
populations using a 
couple of sampling techniques, and you can specify that the sampling
include error to 
simulate real life sampling.

In addition, the program lets you add in a spatial component to the
models, by having 
separate populations of each species in distinct spatial areas.  You
can have up to 200+ 
spatial areas, and in each one you can independently specify starting
conditions.  You can 
then specify how migration will occur between each pair of cells for
each species cells.  
The program will give you separate population size graphs for each area
when you run 
the model, so you can look at metapopulation dynamics, island
biogeography, etc..

The user interface for Biota is particularly well-designed, given the
complexity of the 
program, and lets you easily change equations and parameters through
pop-up menus, 
dialogs, and maps of the different areas.  Because of the ability to
mix and match 
equations, species, and areas, you should be able to use this program
to design and play 
with models demonstrating many concepts, from simple population growth
models to 
moresophisticated concepts involving space and several interacting
species.  
Nevertheless, I would be hesitant to use this in an introductory class,
because despite the 
nice user interface the level of understanding you need to figure out
what is going on is 
still fairly high.  There are a lot of equations and interactions to
keep track of, and you 
need to understand these at least superficially to be able to play with
parameters, and 
interpret the graphs of population size in light of those parameters. 
Building new models 
that are stable is also not trivial.  So I think this program would
best be used in more 
advanced ecology courses, where either you want students to be able to
play with models 
but do not want to use a full-blown modelling program such as Stella or
Mathematica, or 
you want to be able to play with spatially-explicit models.

Computer:  Macintosh

Source:  BioQuest     asdg at umdd.umd.edu    or see address above under
Resources.

Cost:  Low (single user) / High (site license)

(3b)  Environmental Decision Making

These are a series of three modules built around a crippled version of
a program called 
Extend.  Extend seems to be a program somewhat like Stella (see
review).  Using the 
version of Extend included, you can run three different models, one of
a grasslands 
ecosystems with fires, a second looking at logging, and a third looking
at fishing.  Each 
model has functional blocks representing things like trees, fire,
logging effort, and cash.  
You are asked to connect the blocks together to make ecosystems, and
then to connect 
these ecosystems to human management systems.  The manual takes you
through this 
process step-by-step.  You can then play with changing selected
parameters of each 
block, and running the model to see what happens to population sizes
(or the equivelant 
variable) in each component of the system over time.  The authors of
these models want 
students to focus on the process of model building, and how you
calibrate and use 
models, rather than on the models themselves, so all the parameters for
each block are 
easily available to be played with, and the equations connecting the
blocks are not shown 
from within the program.

The models which the authors have developed are nice, and should be
useful in a course 
looking at the interactions between people and ecosystems.  The
software makes it fairly 
easy to change parameters and add and remove links between things,
though there are a 
lot of extraneous tools and commands that could potentially confuse
non-computer 
literate students.  However, in more than an introductory class, or if
the instructor would 
like to modify these models instead of using them as is, then I think
it would be better to 
go with a full-blown modelling program such as Stella, or perhaps the
full version of 
Extend.

Computer:  Macintosh

Source:  BioQuest     asdg at umdd.umd.edu    or see address above under
Resources.

Cost:  Low (single user) / High (site license)

(3c)  Evolve

This is a population genetics simulator.  It simulates evolution in a
two-allele system, 
with natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow.  You can set
separate survival and 
reproductive rates for each genotype per generation, number of
immigrants of each 
genotype, percentage of each genotype which emigrates,  and to simulate
evolutionary 
bottlenecks and genetic drift you can set a maximum population size,
after which the 
population crashes down to a lower population size (by randomly killing
individuals of 
all genotypes).  You can also use one set of parameters for a certain
number of 
generations, then change the parameters and continue running the model,
simulating 
environmental variability.  The main interface to the program is a
graph window where 
you can choose to plot the frequencies of each of the genotypes in the
population, the 
allele frequencies, the population sizes of each genotype, and/or the
total population size.  
All of these results and more are also shown in a table at the bottom
of the window.  To 
facilitate comparisons between the results from different parameters
settings, you can run 
multiple trials and plot one trial on top of another.  All the
parameters are set within a 
single dialog box.

This program is quite nicely laid out, with a lot of information and
controls put into a 
single window and a single dialog box in a way that makes them both
easy to access and 
not too confusing.  I expect that students would need a few minutes to
figure out the what 
they were looking at, but once you get comfortable with it then the
program is very easy 
to use.  The program is flexible enough to do a most evolution
experiments you could 
think of doing with a two alleles at a single locus.  The manual is
clear and well written, 
and includes exercises to get students started.  This program should be
useful from 
introductory through advanced undergraduate genetics and evolution
courses, especially 
in courses which plan to make somewhat extensive use of computer
simulations (say 
more than one or two hours).

Computer:  Macintosh

Source:  BioQuest     asdg at umdd.umd.edu    or see address above under
Resources.

Cost:  Low (single user) / High (site license)


(3d)	PopGen

This is a simple population genetics simulation.  There are two modes,
one a simulation 
of evolution at a single locus, and one a quantitative simulation mode.
 In each mode, the 
program puts up two windows, one containing a graph and the other with
a series of slide 
bars controlling the parameters of the model.  For the single locus
mode, the graph shows 
the percentage of the alleles which are of type A (there are only two
alleles) over time.  
Parameters include the size of the starting population, the initial
percentage of A alleles, 
the selective fitness of each allele combination, the mutation rates
between alleles, and 
various types of migration between populations (up to eight populations
can be run 
simultaneously).  The quantitative mode shows the changes in mean
values of two 
quantitative characters over time, also with a set of parameters that
you can change.

This program is simple and straightforward to use.  The only complaints
I had were that 
the slide bars are a little clumsier than most macintosh slide bars,
and the parameters are 
sometimes not erased and redrawn properly.  You should also know some
population 
genetics before sitting down with this program, as there is no help
onscreen and the 
manual is very short and does not provide any sort of tutorial.  But
these are not fatal 
flaws, and this program should be quite useful for students to play
with these simple 
population genetics models and see how changing different parameters
changes the 
outcome.  You might also look at Evolve, which has similar goals but is
a little more 
extensive (though it does not include the quantitative mode).

Computer:  Macintosh

Source:  evolution.genetics.washington.edu (128.95.12.41),  in 
/pub/popgen

Cost:  Free


(3e)  Energy Flow Stella Stack

This program puts you in charge of managing Silver Springs, an
ecosystem which 
includes primary producers, herbivores, predators, top predators and
decomposers, as 
well as tourists which throw scraps of bread to the herbivores.  Your
job is to keep the 
population of top predators at a certain value for 5 years, by
regulating the number of 
tourists who are allowed in per year.  You are first introduced to the
model by watching it 
get built on the screen.  You are then told your goal of regulating top
predators, and asked 
to make a predication about the population size of the top predators
over the next five 
years (you both draw a graph of what you think population size / time
will look like, and 
write down how you intend to accomplish this).  You can adjust the
starting populations 
of each component in the ecosystem, and the number of tourists.  As the
model runs, it 
gives you feedback about how well you are doing, and you can
continually adjust the 
number of tourists to try to regulate the population.  At the end, you
get plots of 
population size over time for each component of the model, and the top
predator plot is 
overlayed on your prediction, so you can see both how well you did and
how well you 
predicted what would happen.  

This program was designed to be simple to use, and takes students
step-by step through 
the exercise.  It shares a common interface with all of Keslers
programs (see Enzyme 
Kinetics for a more complete description).  It has the problem of
running a little too fast 
on a fast computer, but other than that works quite well.  The exercise
is a little 
simplistic, and will not challenge more advanced students.  However,
for introductory 
ecology or conservation biology classes, this program should be quite
useful, and should 
easily work in a one hour lab or discussion period.

Computer:  Macintosh, also needs Hypercard 2.2 (will not work with
Hypercard player).

Source:  David Kesler, Rhodes College.   email:  KESLER at ns.rhodes.edu

Cost:  Free

(3f)  Island Biogeography StellaStack

This is a simple demonstration of the theory of island biogeography. 
It gives a short 
introduction to the theory with the requisite three graphs showing
effects of distance from 
mainland and size of islands, then lets the student play with a simple
model of species 
colonization and extinction, where you can adjust the distance of an
island from the 
mainland and the size of the island, let the model run for some preset
amount of time, 
then look at graphs of number of species, colonization, extinction and
turnover rates over 
time.  At the end are a series of questions about the results from the
model, with the 
option to go back and rerun the model to check your answers.

This program is very simple to use, and takes you step-by-step through
the whole 
exercise.  It shares a common interface with all of Keslers programs
(see Enzyme 
Kinetics for a more complete description).  The program does not
contain a full 
description of island biogeography and its implications, and so would
be most useful as a 
supplement to a lecture or reading on the topic.  In addition, it is
very simplistic, and 
would not be useful as more than a reinforcement of the concept. for
introductory 
students.

Computer:  Macintosh, also needs Hypercard 2.2 (will not work with
Hypercard player).

Source:  David Kesler, Rhodes College.   email:  KESLER at ns.rhodes.edu

Cost:  Free

(3g)  Max. Sustainable Yield Stella Stack

This program lets students try to harvest fish using two different
harvesting strategies, 
fixed quotas, and variable effort, using a very simplistic model. 
There are several screens 
of introductory material which discuss fixed quota and variable effort
harvesting 
strategies, using graphs of population size vs. recruitment to show how
each of these 
work.  You can then try each of these strategies out on a model of a
fish population.  The 
model is of logistic growth, with the parameters of the growth fixed. 
Before running the 
model, you can set the initial population size, and either the amount
harvested per year 
(fixed quota) or the rate of harvesting (variable effort).  You are
asked to make a 
graphical prediction of the population size over time, given your
initial conditions.  After 
running the model, you can see the simulated population size over time
superimposed on 
top of your prediction.  When you are done playing with the model, you
can read several 
questions about the resource management strategies you just played
with.

This program would work best after students have been introduced to
some theory on 
population growth (ie. what a population size vs. recruitment rate
graph shows) and 
harvesting strategies.  The program itself is simple to use, and shares
a common interface 
with Keslers other programs (see Enzyme Kinetics for a description). 
One problem with 
this program is that the model has no probabalistic elements in it, and
so if you pick the 
right values, both harvesting strategies work just as well.  Without
chance, you have to 
play around and imagine for yourself that chance was acting to see the
greater risk 
inherant in harvesting by quota than by a variable effort strategy. 
There is also no graph 
of amount harvested per year, so you cannot look at how efficient your
harvesting 
strategy is.  However, the program works as a very basic introduction
to these concepts, 
and may be useful in introductory ecology or conservation biology
classes which discuss 
management.

Computer:  Macintosh, also needs Hypercard 2.2 (will not work with
Hypercard player).

Source:  David Kesler, Rhodes College.   email:  KESLER at ns.rhodes.edu

Cost:  Free

(3h)  Carbon Cycle Stella Stack

This program demonstrates the basic parts of the global carbon cycle
through the use of a 
simple model.  The model includes five sources, and two sinks of
carbon.  The sources 
are burning fossil fuels, decomposing of organic matter, respiration,
net destruction of 
vegetation, and carbon escaping from the oceans.  The sinks are gross
primary 
productivity and the oceans.  The student is introduced to these
through a picture of all 
the sources and sinks, with small explanations of each.  The student is
given the mission 
of keeping global atmospheric carbon dioxide below 720 e15 grams, by
adjusting each of 
the sinks and sources.  Before running the model, you are asked to make
a graphical 
description of what you think the CO2 level will be over the 5 years
that the model is run.  
You can then run the model, and at the end of each run look at a graph
of the CO2 level 
over time in the simulation, and see how this compares to your
prediction.  There are also 
a series of short explanation of the effects of changing each of the
variables.

This program works nicely as a simple introduction to the sources and
sinks of carbon 
dioxide in the world, and their relative magnitudes.  It is also a nice
introduction to how 
modelling of this sort is done.  The user is guided through the steps
in the exercise using 
an easy to understand interface that is the same as that in Keslers
other programs (see 
Enzyme kinetics for description).  Since these C02 models are in the
news a lot as part of 
the debate on the greenhouse effect,  the content of the program should
be interesting to 
students in a variety of introductory classes.  I see a potential
problem, however, if the 
teacher does not make it clear that this is only a caricature of how
the real world works 
(especially since the model is so simple, and does not include
connections even between 
the variables which exist such as vegetation destruction and GPP), and
would also want 
to make clear that while you can change things in the model such as CO2
flux into and 
out of the oceans, GPP, etc., in real life there are no slide bars on
these things.  Still, if the 
teacher makes these points, the program should serve as a good
integrater and solidifier 
of both how a nutrient cycles on a global basis, and some of the
variables involved in the 
debate on the greenhouse effect.

Computer:  Macintosh, also needs Hypercard 2.2 (will not work with
Hypercard player).

Source:  David Kesler, Rhodes College.   email:  KESLER at ns.rhodes.edu

Cost:  Free

(3i)  Population Momentum Stella Stack

This program explores how the worlds human population grows.  After a
short 
introduction on population growth and U.N. predictions of this growth,
the program 
presents you with a model of an age-structured population.  The
population has 11 
categories, including three pre-reproductive ages, four reproductive
ages, and four post-
reproductive ages.  You can set the number of individuals in each
class, and an overall 
reproductive rate for the population.  You are asked to predict how the
population will 
grow over time by drawing a graph of this growth, which you can then
compare to the 
output you get after running the model.  As you run the model the
population structure is 
shown changing in a horizontal bar graph (the classical representation
of population 
structure).  At the end are several questions about the results of the
model, with the option 
of going back and rerunning the simulation to answer them.  The thrust
of the 
introductory text and the questions is that even with just a
replacement rate of 
reproduction, the human population can grow quite a bit before reaching
equilibrium.

The program is very simple to use, and takes you step-by-step through
the exercise.  The 
interface is similar to the other programs by this author (see Enzyme
Kinetics for a 
description), and works well.  This program would make a good one hour
lab in an 
introductory course which talks about human population growth.  You
may, however, 
want to look at the BioQuest program Demography, which is a more
flexible program 
also looking at human population dynamics.


Computer:  Macintosh, also needs Hypercard 2.2 (will not work with
Hypercard player).

Source:  David Kesler, Rhodes College.   email:  KESLER at ns.rhodes.edu

Cost:  Free



Eli Meir
Dept of Zoology, Univ of Washington
meir at zoology.washington.edu




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