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Microsoft's spreadsheet software Excel was chosen as a general development environment for the ESTEEM project because most biologists and mathematicians have it on their desktop computers, use it at least minimally for data collection, and find it fairly easy to operate. In addition, Excel is powerful enough to develop applications that involve matrix algebra, statistics, finite difference equations, and simple ordinary differential equations.
Since parameters are so easy to change in Excel and it is so easy to import data from diverse and heterogeneous resources, our modules are intended to be adoptable, adaptable, extensible, flexible, and utilitarian for students who are engaged in a variety of biology and mathematics courses. We often have built templates that are easily employed for major modification to modules or easy mimicry to include new data sets or additional complication to current models.
A primary intention of the Biological ESTEEM project has been to sample elementary applications of mathematics across the spectrum of activity-based general biology curricula. Particular attention was paid to equations that have significantly transformed contemporary biological practice and that are widely used in classroom, laboratory, and field activities in the context of measurement, analysis, modeling, and hypothesis testing. Through extensive use of simulations, tools, and databases, we believe that students will have an opportunity to develop an intuitive sense of the power, utility, and beauty of applying mathematics to biology.
See the Resources page for ESTEEM Introductory information as well as ESTEEM modules and accessory materials.