SIMOC � A hi-fidelity simulation of off-world, human habitation and bioregenerative life support as a platform for citizen scientists and virtual classrooms
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The Scalable, Interactive Model of an Off-World Community (SIMOC) is an agent-based model, a simulation through which semi-autonomous agents interact and whose behavior, when allowed to unfold over a specified time, may exhibit non-linear, dynamic, and probabilistic behavior. Data was derived from plant physiology studies, the Baseline Values and Assumptions Document, and Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) modeling validated by Paragon Space Development Corporation. SIMOC approximates photosynthetic activated radiation (PAR), H2O, O2, and CO2 parameters with non-linear plant growth functions derived from a barley fodder experiment conducted at the University of Arizona�s Biosphere 2. In addition to its research-grade simulation engine, SIMOC is a platform for education. SIMOC includes a fully developed, Next Generation Science Standards-aligned teacher-student curriculum for grades 5-8 and 9-14. Users prepare a custom configuration of a human habitat on Mars. By selecting the duration of the mission, number of astronauts, stored food, crew quarters and greenhouse, type and quantity of plant species, and system for energy production and storage, students learn about the complexity and challenge of designing a long duration, off-world mission for which a balance between mechanical and plant-based life support is mission critical. As of June 2020 National Geographic is hosting SIMOC at the NGS Education Resource Library, a web-based repository of more than 4000 curricular assets for K-12+ with subjects including geography, biology, chemistry, anthropology, mathematics, physics, and space exploration. This publication presents the results of a world-wide engagement of SIMOC, with specific examples of how SIMOC was integrated into virtual classrooms during the COVID pandemic for an iterative exploration of the scientific method.