Complex or Complicated?

Posted July 27, 2018 by turtle
Fish schooling from National Geographic video

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Project GUTS

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"Complex or Complicated?"

Use the attached power point activity to review concepts of Complex Adaptive Systems. Before showing slides, review the 4 essential components of a Complex Adaptive System: 

  • Many agents following simple rules (interacting with the environment and/or with each other)
  • Leaderless
  • Self-organizing forming emergent patterns
  • Difficult to predict

Review common misconceptions:  

  • Having one or two of the four characteristic is enough
  • Complicated = complex

If you are using the red/yellow/green cup system, have students hold up a red cup if they believe the image you are discussing from the slide represents a complex adaptive system, or a green cup if it is complicated (and if not simply ask students to raise their hand or otherwise indicate their vote).  Ask students to support their reasoning, although for many images, the answer can be debated (sometimes, a system is complicated when examined on one scale or level, and complex if examined on a different scale).  Have fun playing "complex or complicated"!


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