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Sample Lessons
Thousands of educators and researchers are using STELLA modeling and simulation software to study everything from economics to physics, literature to calculus, chemistry to public policy. Below are just a few examples of how Systems Thinking and STELLA software can be used in the classroom to help stimulate learning.

Visualizing Math with STELLA


A behavior over time graph (BOTG) is used to show what happens to something over time. Whether it is changes in the stock market or changes in the sea level, every graph tells a story. This lesson helps students understand BOTGs. STELLA modeling and simulation software, allows students to create models and run simulations of systems over time. The results of simulations are displayed using visual representations such as BOTGs.


Word problems typically give students a lot of trouble. They have difficulty understanding what is important in the problem and in translating the words into mathematical equations. In this lesson, students use STELLA modeling and simulation software to create a visual representation of a problem involving a class trying to raise money by making school T-shirts.


In this lesson, students use the basic building blocks of STELLA modeling and simulation software to create a visual representation of a problem whereby two boys are trying to save money for an iPod. Graphs showing different saving and spending patterns help students understand the structure of linear functions.


This lesson expands upon the Linear Functions lesson by introducing interest rates into an iPod savings plan. Using STELLA modeling and simulation software, students create a visual representation of the population dynamics of Malawi to better understand the differences between linear and exponential functions.

Visualizing Physics with STELLA

This lesson introduces students to Newton's Law of Cooling through a scenario driven model titled "Coffee with the President and the Prime Minister". Students are able to explore Newton's Law by manipulating temperature differentials and container insulating capacity.


This lesson explores the concepts behind a simple pendulum. Investigate what effect, if any, string length, initial displacement, and pendulum ball mass have on the amplitude, period, and frequency of the pendulum's motion. Students can also see how the variables of simple harmonic motion are related


This lesson uses the "Virtual Bungee Jumping" model to explore the physics of a mass-spring system. Students can manipulate mass and spring constant (number of bungee cords) and see the resulting graphs of position vs. time, position vs. velocity, and restoring force vs. position. In the extended experiments section, initial displacement and force of gravity can also be manipulated.

Rain Barrel Activities with STELLA

The following activities use STELLA to simulate filling or emptying a rain barrel with water. They were written by Dr. Edward Gallaher and Diana M. Fisher, author of Modeling Dynamic Systems: Lessons for a First Course to prepare students for understanding a model used by medical researchers to study drug assimilation in the human body.


This lesson uses the STEP function in STELLA to explore what happens to the volume of water in a rain barrel if you increase/decrease the rate of water flowing into it. Similarly, the PULSE function is used to simulate the impact of dumping a bucket of water into a barrel at a specific time.


This lesson focuses on how water drains out of a rain barrel. Students explore the use of different-sized spigots to see the impact on the time it takes to drain the barrel.


Combining concepts from the previous two activities, this lesson guides students to understanding the dynamics of steady state. What impact does increasing or decreasing the flows have on the time it takes for the level of water in a rain barrel to remain constant?


Building on the previous activity, this lesson explores what happens when the outflow of one rain barrel flows into a second barrel. How does the volume of water in the first barrel affect the volume in the second?


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