Erez Kikin-Gil 's Power Eco Pod project is a TUI-controlled system that mimics the growth of a plant and allows children to keep track of their class garden and learn how the different natural elements influence it, and each other, over time.
One pod represents the wind, another the sun's heat, a third one the light and the last one represents the rain. Each pod can be manipulated with a movement or action characteristic of the natural element it represents. If you blow on the "wind" pod, you'll see on the computer screen the effect wind can have on a flower, if you pour water onto the "rain" pod, the flower will be watered as well, etc.
The Eco Pod keeps track of daily changes in the plant environment, by employing environmental sensors, they monitor the water level in the soil, the amount of light, the temperature, and the wind. The system also captures daily images of the plant.
Every now and then, the child can take the Eco-Pods to the information retrieval system and transfer the data to the "plant diary" software. This way, the kid can see the changes of the different elements over time, draw conclusions about their impact on the growth of the plant, but also internalize Systems Thinking concepts, such as feedback loops, stocks and flows, and changes over time.
How would you compare the learning available from this "Eco Pod" to what kids would learn by raising an actual flower, planter box, or plot of vegetables?
The aim of the Eco Pods is to use nature to teach children to look at the world around them as a complex network of interrelationships.
Nature provides a solid base for learning, as elements, which consist it, are approachable to children. However, for learning complex interrelationship between several elements at an early age there is a need for a different approach.
This approach takes the advantages that nature offers but enhanced it by allowing children to see how their actions as one element, like rain, influence and being influenced by the other elements in a condensed period.