Stella® Research Software for Teaching Concepts of Nutrient Dynamics in the Undergraduate Classroom

  • James L. Hargrove
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 537)


STELLA® Research software is widely used in secondary schools and colleges. It was designed to teach elements of systems thinking that include concepts of dynamic change and feedback. Modeling such responses requires the use of built-in functions that may be algebraic, logical, probabilistic, or trigonometric. Unlike programs developed by the professional modeling community, STELLA software does not perform statistical analysis or derive parameters that provide the best fit between data and a proposed model. However, its advantages as a presentation tool include ease of use, ability to design and share kinetic models for special purposes, and availability of tools that allow for importing sounds, images, and video files. STELLA software is most appropriate for students who have not been trained in mathematics but who should understand the implications of models that deal with growth, accumulation of fat- vs. water-soluble vitamins, feedback controls, tissue effects, and issues related to metabolic regulation. The software is ideal for introducing the concept of hypothesis testing, and it can facilitate learning about complex processes such as transport across the placenta or blood-brain barrier. Whereas traditional educational methods lack a dynamic aspect, modeling programs allow the temporal dimension of cause and consequence to be explored. Because foods are widely considered to be medicinal, it would be useful for students in nutrition to learn about the plateau principle, models of effect, and the rationale for achieving therapeutic levels of nutrients and nutritional supplements.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • James L. Hargrove
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Foods and NutritionThe University of GeorgiaAthens

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