The PCRaster Software and Course Materials for Teaching Numerical Modelling in the Environmental Sciences

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Abstract:

Teaching numerical modelling in the environmental sciences not only needs good software and course material but also an understanding of how to program the models in the computer. Conventional environmental modelling procedures require computer science and programming skills, which may detract from the important understanding of the environmental processes involved. An alternative strategy is to build a generic toolkit or modelling language that operates with concepts and operations that are familiar to the environmental scientist. PCRaster is such a spatio‐temporal environmental modelling language developed at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. It is used for teaching modelling in classrooms and over the Web (distance learning) at three levels: (1) explaining environmental processes and models, where models with a fixed structure of model equations are evaluated by changing model parameters, (2) teaching model construction, where students learn to program spatial and temporal models with the language, and (3) teaching all phases of scientific modelling related to field research. So far, we have received positive responses to these courses, largely because the software provides a set of easily learned functions matching the conceptual thought processes of a geoscientist that can be used at all levels of teaching.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9671.00070

Affiliations: University of Zurich

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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