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CLE Curriculum: Characteristics of Complex Systems
Complex Systems: From Events to Patterns
An iceberg is a useful image for understanding complex systems. At the tip of the iceberg are the events that we can easily see and understand.
By exploring any of the simulations, the student learns not only about the topic itself, but also the underlying behavior patterns (i.e. oscillation). At an even deeper level, the student sees the underlying structure that generates the behavior (i.e. the balancing feedback structure).
Then, by exploring and comparing multiple simulations, one starts to see that oscillation is a behavior common to complex systems in many different contexts. With each encounter, students are encouraged to ask "Why is this system oscillating?" The answer lies at the heart of complex systems – the structure of the system itself creates the oscillation.