A NEW BALANCE

Authors: Daniele Brioschi, Marco Levera, Domenica Notaro, Ivana Lazzaro, Luigi Manara

We made this video to involve our students and colleagues in a new challenge, “how can science help us find a new balance in these troubled times?

The goal was to experiment with the concept of balance by producing imaginative structures. The rules were:

  • the structure had to be either laid onto or tied via a single supporting point. The supporting point could not be strengthened with glue or other materials to fix its position;
  • the structures had to always be free to spin and oscillate around the supporting point;
  • the completed structure had to maintain its own stable and balanced position on all its levels;
  • the students were allowed to use any material, and they were encouraged not to waste it.

We reached our 11-14 years old students using Google Classroom. The students, in their turn, sent in their work as both a photo and a short video (max. 15 seconds) to show their structures and demonstrate their balancing.

This activity allowed our students to analyze, plan and engineer a simple solution to a given problem via a hands-on approach. They worked by trials and errors using creativity, their previous knowledge of physics and the new knowledge coming from first-hand experience.

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EPIGLOTTIS PROJECT

Author: Daniele Brioschi

Start date: 27/03/2020

From our previous lesson, we learned the structure of our respiratory apparatus, and some of you told me “There is a bifurcation in our throat! Why doesn’t the food enter the trachea going into the lungs?”. It was a great question! In our throat there is a mechanism that prevents food going into the lungs and allows air going into the larynx. How does it work? Imagine being a biomedical engineer; what structure could YOU design? 

This activity started in this way, during an online lesson with my 12 years old students. I didn’t answer their questions but I proposed that they are biomedical engineers for a day and have to design their own artificial epiglottis. I created a simple model of the human throat using a shoebox.

I asked students to design a structure with recycled materials to be installed on the bifurcation model, above the esophagus and larynx. The structure should allow food (marbles in the model) to go into the esophagus and not enter the larynx. In addition, the structure has to allow air to flow freely through the respiratory tract.

During the lesson we followed the steps of IBSE method in this way:

  • 5 minutes to think individually and make the design in their own science notebook
  • 25 minutes to work in small groups, to share ideas with group mates, to choose just one idea and to present it on Jamboard
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