A STEM and IBSL activity on enzymes: Studying gas-evolving enzymatic reactions by measuring produced gas volume

Authors: GEORGIOS CHATZIGEORGIOU, biology teacher, 2nd General Lyceum of Oreokastro, Greece, ALEXANDROS TERZOPOULOS, Mentor

We would like to express our utmost gratitude to Ms Konstantina Sarantavga, Principal of the 2nd General Lyceum of Oraiokastro, for her continuous help and support in implementing the STEM activity in our school.

General overview of enzymes

Enzymes are proteins capable of catalysing biochemical reactions in living organisms. As biocatalysts, they accelerate such reactions by lowering the activation energy thereof. Enzymes possess a varying degree of specialisation with respect to the reactants (substrates) of the reactions they catalyse; for their action, the binding of the substrate to the region of the protein known as the active site is required (in a lock-and-key manner). The velocity of enzymatic reactions is affected by temperature, substrate and enzyme concentration, binding affinity, pH etc. The enzyme function may be halted or increased by the presence of various substances (e.g. inhibitors, activators, allosteric effectors). Inhibition may be reversible or non-reversible.

Relevance to school curriculum-Benefits of our approach

The subject and encompassed disciplines are part of the curriculum for the General Orientation Biology course mandatorily taught in the 2nd Class of the General Lyceum (5th year of secondary education) in Greece. Enzymes specifically are taught within the framework of Chapter 3 “Metabolism”, section “Enzyme-Biocatalysts”. The time allocated for this section is one class sessions for the theoretical part, and an additional 1-2 hours to complete the experimental section designed herein.

The teaching approach we followed replaces the typical “dry” theory-repetitive presentation of this subject in the class with inquiry-based learning, including a hands-on experience in the lab with a strong visual stimulus. In our first implementation, 15 students participated (most of them girls) who showed great interest in the way the STEM fields of Biology and Chemistry were explored with this activity.

Students in the lab
Continue reading A STEM and IBSL activity on enzymes: Studying gas-evolving enzymatic reactions by measuring produced gas volume

Online conference with famous ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano

Author: Marina Stanojlovic Mircic

This is an online activity which took place on 16th April 2020. My students and I had the opportunity to meet a real active Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and find out all about his occupation and ways of life in the spaceship. Knowing of our tremendous desire to meet him, Mr Steve Sherman invited me and my students to connect for the interview with Luca and it was one of those powerful opportunities not to be missed, especially because we were at home due to #COVID19. Of course, there were other students, mostly from the United States, who followed Luca’s interesting story.

Since my students decided to be the active participants of this interview, they’ve prepared the questions. I was doing this activity because some of my students aspire to be astronauts and they admire those people. The most interesting part of the interview was when Luca answered my students’ questions in Italian as my students learn Italian as a Second Foreign Language in secondary school.

OUR QUESTIONS FOR LUCA  In English:

  • Are you afraid you’ll run out of air?  
  • How does it feel to be in space, in a rocket or on a planet?  
  • Are there any living beings on any other planet?
  • Is there any possibility of another planet settling?
  • How did you decide to be an astronaut?
  • Would I have the honour of being taken for a ride in your spacecraft, because today on 16th April is my birthday?
  • What the astronauts eat?
  • What do you do all day?

In Italian:

  • Quali sono i Suoi progetti futuri? (What are your future plans?)
  • Tra due mesi finiremo la scuola secondaria di primo grado e dovremo scegliere la scuola superiore in base al nostro sistema scolastico in Serbia, Lei ha qualche suggerimento per noi su come scegliere la scuola giusta? (In two months we will finish the 9th grade of elementary school and we have to choose high school according to our school system in Serbia, do you have any suggestion for us on how to choose the right school?)
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The smartest Italian scientists

Author: Marina Stanojlovic Mircic

This activity took place on 10 – 12 March 2020 and represented a correlation between one non-STEM school subject and few STEM school subjects. The lesson is realized by CLIL teaching method (Content and Language Integrated Learning) in correlation with computer science, physics and mathematics. Following the curriculum of Italian as the second foreign language taught in Serbian schools, with the help of Europeana resources, my students came up with data on who were the scientists with the highest IQ in Italy in the past.

In Italian and Serbian languages, 8th grade students presented the most intelligent Italians who ever lived: Galileo Galilei, Hypatia of Alexandria, which was then part of the Eastern Roman Empire and Leonardo da Vinci. In this way, we have marked 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, an extraordinary man and a great genius. The topic of the most famous Italians was familiar to my students since they were in the 7th grade.

First, students searched on the Internet and found data on these three people using the following Europeana resources:  Galileo Galilei, Hypatia of Alexandria and Leonardo da Vinci. Some other web resources were used to find which Italian scientist had the highest IQ. Then they adapted the texts and photos to their Italian knowledge and translated them into Serbian using the online dictionary “Bing Translator”. After that, they recorded the video in Italian and Serbian, so that it would be very understandable to those who do not know Italian. The entire presentation Gli scienziati più intelligenti dell’Itali, as the final product with text, pictures, and videos, is available on Sway.

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UNplasticize

Author: Honorata Pereira
Age of students: 15th – 16th
School:
Eptoliva
Date of activities: February – beginning of March 2020

This project aimed to make students aware of the amount of (micro) plastics present in essential goods of common use. Thus, the students investigated the microplastics present in personal hygiene products, in their clothes, in the washing waters of their clothes and in the waters of the beach. They also assessed the amount of waste they produce at home, as well as the main waste from local industries. Finally, students were invited to present solutions to minimize the impact of waste and plastic on the environment.

Our Story

We started by using the “Building a new environmental Future” feature. Thus, students watched a short clip about bioeconomy, students received different objects that they have to categorize according to them being bio-based or non-bio-based. In the second part, we used the Scientix resource “Growing plastic and new life for plastic” and the students s analysed pictures about plastic pollution, they researched the microplastics existing in their personal hygiene products, as well as in the washing waters of their clothes. A group of students investigated microplastics in sea waters, taking samples from three different locations, in the north, centre and south of the country. In this context, we also analysed the amount of waste that each family produces, as well as visiting the main industries in our locality, a dairy and an oil processing industry, to identify the main waste that each industry produces.

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Challenge” My city” and “My dream city”

Author: Rovena Hoxha, “Flatrat e dijes” school

Students often ask me: “How can we clean up the air and how can we reduce air pollution levels in our city?”

I offered them a challenge: “My city” and “My dream city”.

After describing the city they asked me: “What can we do to help our city to survive?”

I decided to explain to them through different interactive techniques what climate change really is.

Understanding the climate change, firstly, we need to understand the atmosphere. It is the atmosphere, which surrounds the Earth like a bubble, that protects us from the harshest rays of the sun and releases extra gases into space. The burning of fossil fuel such as oil and gas produce greenhouse gases, which trap the heat from the Sun in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The consequences of climate change include health risks through rising air temperatures, an increase in hunger, extreme weather conditions. That’s why it is important to empower ourselves to protect the planet so we can feel like we’re making a difference.  

Let’s start by challenging ourselves to find 10 ways to use less power in our everyday life!

  • This could be turning off the lights. 
  • Unplugging chargers when not using them or riding bikes more.  
  • Emphasizing the importance of working together to solve problems, enables us to develop and strengthen a family composing plan.

We were building up our dream city with recyclable materials.

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