Simulations with emoji in the browser

Nicky Case has created an easy to use site for creating simulations. These simulations use a grid and emoji to represent complex systems. The first examples on the page are about forest fires, and then they evolve from there.


Items can be placed on the grid with a purpose or randomly through the set up of the simulation. Each item can affect other items on the grid by the rules that are entered. The graphics are created from emoji, which offers a ton of different options. And besides, who doesn’t like emoji?

John Conway’s Game of Life

Simulations like Nicky Case’s started with John Conway’s Game of Life that John created in 1970. Using a grid and a set of rules, life could flourish or die depending on the initial configuration of the cells. The rules are:

  • For a space that is ‘populated’:
    • Each cell with one or no neighbors dies, as if by solitude.
    • Each cell with four or more neighbors dies, as if by overpopulation.
    • Each cell with two or three neighbors survives.
  • For a space that is ’empty’ or ‘unpopulated’
    • Each cell with three neighbors becomes populated.

Playing the Game of Life online as a starting activity would probably be a good idea to prepare you and your students in the use of simulating on the computer.

Herd Immunity Simulations

One of my favorite ready made simulations he has created is Peeps getting’ sick. With this simulation, you can adjust the number of non-immunized people in a population, and then click a person to be sick. Through the rules of the simulation, you’ll see how the sickness spreads and how herd immunity can help those that aren’t immunized.

PeepsGettinSick Simulations

In the classroom

A lot of classrooms could use these simulations to help the students visualize complex issues. Students as low as Kindergarten could use pre-created examples, while older students can create their own. Completed projects are can be embedded or linked directly.

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