I'm usually an underachiever, but since I have three screen shots, I guess for at least 'one moment in time', I am an over achiever. :)
I did the 'things to try' on the flock of birds program, and came up with some interesting results. It first asked to try to get the flocking patterns tight. I came up with this result.
Linearly that's pretty dang tight.
It then asked for 'loose' patterns. I came up with this:
Not only are they loose, but all they did was circle around. I thought that was pretty fun.
Then I decided that maybe I could get an even tighter flocking pattern that the linear thing I had, and with a little bit of work came up with this:
I figured that was about as tight as I was going to get it. 124 birds on top of each other.
A few thoughts about this kind of 'learning'. I don't think I played with this enough to really understand it (maybe I'm an underachiever after all!). Through trial and error I could come up with the above images, but if I were going to sit down and try to replicate the images, I would have to engage in the same kind of trial and error activity. To me this is interesting because if these images were used to determine whether or not I understood the workings of this simulation, well then, it would be a bad measurement.
But I like this kind of learning. I like the discovery nature of it. You could talk about birds having a low level of intelligence, but engaging in activity that would make it appear they had a high level of intelligence, and the point would never be made to a large number of 'students'. But give them a toy like this, and then explain that with a few simple 'commands', the birds can look as if they are participating in advanced flight patterns. I think if a student were given a myriad of goals, and then some guided questions, more would be learned than by simply reading, lecturing, etc.
This is a fun little tool that needs some more exploring. The biggest question in my mind is can I use this as a strategic advantage in any of the many board games my family will be playing over the holidays.