This unit engages students in the use of agent-based modeling to look into why we have traffic jams and test ideas to try to improve traffic flow, and demonstrates the use of simulation to solve difficult engineering problems. Specifically we focus on the problem of traffic bottleneck congestion. A secondary goal is to further students’ understanding of the network concept as a way to model real world flows of data and matter. An alternative pacing guide, using most of the same off-line activities but different coding challenges, is also attached below.
Link to Weekly Progress Monitors (instructions for students to help with programming)
Lesson 1: Introduction to Traffic Simulation
- Use CAST diagram to think about roads as complex systems (attached below).
- Decode the Base Model with Road and add and scatter cars. Discuss abstractions of the model.
Lesson 2: Cars moving without passing
- Ants on a trail activity and discussion
- Programming activity - see Progress Monitor for week 2. Possible solution.
Lesson 3: Cars moving without passing (cont.) and Roadblock/Traffic light
- Human Boolean activity
- Programming activity: Follow Progress Monitor to make a car stop due to a road block or a red traffic light. What happens to the cars behind it? Possible solution.
Lesson 4: Car Breakdown causing a traffic jam
- Dice and Data activities - see CS In Science Module 1 (day 4, pages 44-47) or Dice and Data for StarLogo TNG (review of how to code probability in StarLogo Nova)
- Programming activity: make a percent chance of a car breaking down and causing a traffic jam and the car moving again. Possible solution
- Choose between:
- Discuss or model how computer driven cars might change these assumptions or models? How can they be better than human drivers? What challenges do they present?
- What if you gave different moods (emotional states) to different drivers? How would you model drivers talking on cell phones or distracted by other activities like eating or applying make-up?