Earlier today I had the opportunity to participate in a summer camp for American Indian high school students (Safeguarding our Natural and Tribal Heritage Youth Program funded by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). I was particularly excited because it allowed me a chance to do a workshop called Trickster Modeling. The basic idea of the workshop is to use storytelling to motivate interest in mathematical/computational biology (click here for Learning Objectives).
After some introductions, I told the story “Giddy Up, Wolfie” about a rabbit (chokfi) who tries to steal a wolf’s (nashoba) girlfriend. From there, we talked about rabbit-wolf (chokfi-nashoba) dynamics in the wild. We then used a modified agent-based predator-prey model implemented in NetLogo that uses Chickasaw words for the model variables (feel free to email me for the code). Using NetLogo simulations, students also completed a Nashoba Chokfi Worksheet, which is based off of a NIMBioS worksheet (a terrific institute that has some great resources for educators). All and all I think it went pretty well and hope to have a chance to do more workshops like these in the future.