Using Analogical Mapping to Assess the Affordances of Scale Models Used in Earth and Environmental Science Education

  • Kim A. Kastens
  • Ann Rivet
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6222)


Physical analog models are a common pedagogical device in Earth and Environmental Science education for helping students bridge the vast scale difference between the Earth and the classroom. Gentner’s structural framework for analogical reasoning has been used to map the correspondences and non-correspondences between two widely-used analog models and the relevant portions of the Earth System. A classroom model of convection in an aquarium has important correspondences to the atmospheric Hadley cell at the levels of attributes, simple relations, higher order relations and systematicity. A volcano eruption model lacks the relations among lava flow temperature, viscosity, and distance that result in construction of the distinctive conical shape of real volcanoes. Analogical mappings of classroom models can be used to guide the design of instruction and assessment so as to increase the chances that students will understand the Earth system at the level of higher-order relations rather than superficial attributes.


spatial cognition analog model science education earth science environmental science 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim A. Kastens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ann Rivet
    • 3
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University 
  2. 2.Department of Earth & Environmental SciencesColumbia University 
  3. 3.Teachers CollegeColumbia University 

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