S-Shaped Growth

Overview: Using the storytelling feature of a pre-built model, the class will explore the structure that produces S-shaped growth common to deer populations. Students use their knowledge of BOTGs, linear growth, exponential growth and Stock/flow diagrams to help them understand S-shaped growth.

Lesson Objectives

Curriculum Context


Students will:

  • analyze Behavior-over-time graphs (BOTG) illustrating different growth patterns and tell the story of the each.

  • demonstrate an under-standing of loop dominance.

  • demonstrate an under-standing of S-shaped growth by describing a real life system that exhibits this pattern over time.

This lesson focuses on the structure that produces S-shaped growth, feedback, loop dominance and limits to growth.  Students discover that exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely. The consequences of ignoring that fact results in an unpleasant situation, called over-shoot and collapse. By becoming familiar with the structure that produces S-shaped growth students will understand the dynamics that produce this type of growth. 

  • Linear growth

  • Exponential growth

  • Overshoot and collapse

  • S-shaped growth

  • Equilibrium

  • Reinforcing feedback

  • Balancing feedback

  • Loop dominance

  • Limits to growth

  • Patterns/trends




Systems Tools

  • Computer

  • Computer projector/screen

  • STELLA® modeling software

  • S-Shaped Growth – Oh Deer!! computer simulation

  • Student activity packet

90 – 120 minutes

  • Computer simulation

  • Behavior-over-time graphs

  • Stock/Flow diagrams

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