Children begin to understand that computer simulations can represent real and imaginary situations. They learn how to explore simulations, explore options and to test their predictions. They evaluate simulations by comparing them with real situations and considering their usefulness.
So What Is A Simulation Anyway?
Very simply a simulation is just an imitation of a situation or a process.
Many of the computer games you play are simulations, they let you make choices that affect what happens (The Sims, Theme Park, Nintendogs and countless others). Adventures are a special kind of simulation designed for entertainment.
Are simulations used in real life?
Yes: Flight simulators for pilots, patient simulators for doctors, car simulators for designers and drivers. The list of simulations in real life is endless.
So are all simulations on the computer?
Actually children have been role-playing real life situations in their games and play since the earliest civilizations.
When children play families or cops and robbers they are simulating imaginary situations based on real life.
Many board games are simulations of real life situations? (e.g. Monopoly, Game of Life).
Even some toy figures seek to imitate real life, (farmyard animals, babies) however what they lack are any rules to go with them. We create the rules ourselves.
So what do you need for a simulation?
You need some rules (the constructs).
You need a way to interact with the simulation (the model)
You need to be able to change things (the variables) that affect the outcome.
Whether the situation is real or imaginary does not matter.
Computers are good for simulations as programs are ideal for having rules and can react quickly.