COMPUTER SIMULATION PROGRAMS FOR TEACHING CROP MODELING

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 3190 Maile Way, St. John 102, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA

The simulation programs Stella® (High Performance Systems) and Extend™ (Imagine That!) were used on Apple® Macintosh® computers in a graduate course on crop modeling to develop crop simulation models. Students developed models as part of their homework and laboratory assignments and their semester project Stella offered the advantage of building models using a relational diagram displaying state, rate, driving, and auxiliary variables. Arrows connecting the variables showed the relationships among the variables as information or material flows. Stella automatically kept track of differential equations and integration. No complicated programming was required of the students. Extend used the idea of blocks representing the different parts of a system. Lines connected the inputs and outputs to and from the different blocks. Extend was more flexible than Stella by giving the students the opportunity to do their own programming in a language similar to C. Also, with its dialog boxes, Extend more easily allowed the students to run multiple simulations answering “What if” questions. Both programs quickly enabled students to develop crop simulation models without the hindrance of extensive learning of a programming language or delving deeply into the mathematics of modeling.

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