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Systems Thinking for Education and Research

Education and research are most exciting when they move out of the lecture hall and library and provide opportunity to create, experience, and see. STELLA® offers a practical way to dynamically visualize and communicate how complex systems and ideas really work.

Whether they are first-time or experienced modelers, teachers, students, and researchers use STELLA to explore and answer endless questions like:

  • How does climate change influence an ecosystem over time?
  • Would Hamlet’s fate have changed if he’d killed Claudius earlier?
  • How do oil prices respond to shocks in supply and/or demand?
  • What will happen when the ozone layer is gone?
  • How do basic macroeconomic principles affect income and consumption?
The Gold Standard

Easy-to-use, STELLA models provide endless opportunities to explore by asking "what if," and watching what happens, inspiring the exciting ah-ha moments of learning.

Thousands of educators and researchers have made STELLA the gold standard; using it to study everything from economics to physics, literature to calculus, chemistry to public policy. K-12, college, and research communities have all recognized STELLA’s unique ability to stimulate learning.

"In my 35 years of teaching, I’ve never seen a tool like STELLA. It significantly increases a student’s ability to understand and communicate what they’ve learned."
—Diana Fisher, High School Math Teacher
Shared Learning

You know that your students have learned when they can, in turn, explain. STELLA models allow you to communicate how a system works – what goes in, how the system is impacted, what are the outcomes.

STELLA supports diverse learning styles with a wide range of storytelling features. Diagrams, charts, and animation help visual learners discover relationships between variables in an equation. Verbal learners might surround visual models with words or attach documents to explain the impact of a new environmental policy.

STELLA Dashboard
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Storytelling provides an easy way to explain a model.

Use STELLA to:
  • Simulate a system over time
  • Jump the gap between theory and the real world
  • Enable students to creatively change systems
  • Teach students to look for relationships – see the Big Picture
  • Clearly communicate system inputs and outputs and demonstrate outcomes
"STELLA gives us an enormously powerful and flexible tool for creating environments that allow people to learn by doing."
—Dennis Meadows, Co-author Limits To Growth
Key Features
Mapping and Modeling
Intuitive icon-based graphical interface simplifies model building
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Modeling helps student understand systems like sustainable shrimping.
Stock and Flow diagrams support the common language of Systems Thinking and provide insight into how systems work
Enhanced stock types enable discrete and continuous processes with support for queues, ovens, and enhanced conveyors
Causal Loop Diagrams present overall causal relationships
Model equations are automatically generated and made accessible beneath the model layer
Built-in functions facilitate mathematical, statistical, and logical operations
Multi-dimensional arrays simply represent repeated model structure
Modules support multi-level, hierarchical model structures that can serve as “building blocks” for model construction
XML-based model files support the new industry standard for common interchange of system dynamics models
Simulation and Analysis
Simulations "run" systems over time
Sensitivity analysis reveals key leverage points and optimal conditions
Partial model simulations focus analysis on specific sectors or modules of the model
Results presented as graphs, tables, animations, QuickTime movies, and files
Data Manager archives and recalls simulation run data stored in a separate SQLite database file
Dynamic data import/export links to Microsoft® Excel or CSV files
Flight simulators and dashboards describe model components and facilitate manipulation STELLA
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Dashboards bridge the gap
between theory and reality.
Input devices include knobs, sliders, switches, and buttons
Output devices highlight outcomes with warning flashers, text, graphs, tables, and reports
Storytelling supports step-by-step model unveiling
Causal Loop Diagrams present dominant feedback loops within structure
Export for NetSim supports publishing and sharing model over the web using
isee NetSim add-on software
isee Runtime options support full-screen presentation of models so they can be easily shared or commercially distributed
Multimedia support for graphics, movies, sounds, and text messages
Model security features allow locking or password protection
System Requirements
For Windows:
Microsoft Windows™ XP/Vista/7/8
256 MB RAM
200 MB disk space
  For Macintosh:
Intel-based Mac
Mac OS 10.6 or higher
256 MB RAM
200 MB disk space

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