EcoXPT is an immersive simulation in which students use inquiry to learn how ecosystems work.

Students engage in observation and measurement as they explore a virtual world. They gather evidence for what might be going on there. They collect data and notice correlational patterns in the data. They learn the techniques used by ecosystems scientists by conducting experiments in a virtual lab and in the ecosystem to reveal its causal dynamics. They integrate their findings with other evidence to build hypotheses. They use an on-line notebook to organize their claims, evidence, and reasoning and an interactive concept map to represent their learning.  EcoXPT focuses on grades 6-8 but can be used with other grades.


Curriculum materials accompany the simulation. This includes a Teachers’ Guide, 14 lesson plans with PowerPoints to organize and introduce each session, six thinking moves and accompanying videos to help students learn how scientists think, and rubrics.


EcoXPT Learning Goals are aligned with the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross-Cutting Concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Standards.

You can download the program and curriculum materials for free at the link under the Resources tab. If you are looking for materials to use for remote teaching, click here for information about how you can use EcoXPT remotely.  Use this Quickstart Guide for your students.

If you would like to learn more about EcoXPT before signing in to download materials, click Link to Deep Seeing Video to watch the video for the first session. It introduces the virtual world and the first Thinking Move.

Some teachers know EcoMUVE, an earlier program, that also teaches observation, measurement, finding evidence, and noticing patterns. What is the difference between EcoXPT and EcoMUVE?  EcoMUVE has a pond and a forest version.  EcoXPT incorporates EcoMUVE Pond and goes beyond it by including experimentation and deeper inquiry, so there is no need to teach both. EcoMUVE works well with upper elementary.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #1416781 to Tina Grotzer and Chris Dede. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

This video was featured in the NSF 2017 STEM For All Video Showcase and was a “Facilitator's Choice” award winner.

This video was featured in the NSF 2016 STEM For All Video Showcase.

Project Members

Amy Kamarainen

Dr. Amy Kamarainen

Education and Station Coordinator for the Salmon Coast Field Station in British Columbia, Canada
Joseph Reilly

Joseph Reilly

Doctoral Student, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Shane Tutweiler

Shane Tutwiler

Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations at the University of Rhode Island


Grotzer, T. A., Gonzalez, E., & Schibuk, E. (2021). Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Prediction. In J. Nordine & O. Lee (Ed.), Crosscutting Concepts: Strengthening Science and Engineering Learning (pp. 89-113) . NSTA.
To access the suite of EcoLearn resources, please visit