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In “Panayot Volov ” school in the city of Kaspichan, two math classes were organized and dedicated to learning symmetry (central symmetry in particular) with the usage of a video game.
The organizers of the event were Yavor Yakimov – the principal of the school, and Mladen Valkov (Institute of Mathematics and Informatics – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences).The lecturer was Mladen Valkov and there were two assistant teachers – the deputy principal of the school Darina Draganova and Zhivka Gabrovska – math teacher.
Sixteen students from 5th grade took part in the classes. Each level (task) in the video game uses a rectangular board divided in unit cells. One half of the table has its cells colored in black or white and is unclickable. The other half is completely white and some of its cells have to be clicked in such a manner that every two cells that are symmetrical in respect to the red dot in the center of the table, are in the same color. The game is divided in 4 different sections, two of which have the table stationary, and the other two have the table constantly rotating. The game was created by Prof. Toni Chehlarova and Mladen Valkov, developed on the unity game engine platform:
The first part of the lesson was dedicated to preparation and installing the game.
Every student had to find the address of the game by themselves with verbal instructions. After that, they had to click the link and download the game which was done successfully by each student.
In the next step, they had to unzip the archive on the desktop. This was also done successfully by each student with verbal instructions
Every student had to write the IP address of the server which was going to collect their results. There was a small discussion on what is an IP address.
The second part of the lesson was the actual playing of the game. The plan was to go through the first and the third sections of the game – central symmetry on a board without constant rotation.
At first, the students had difficulty solving even the first levels which involved a 4×4 table. Most of them were coloring the cells, so that the table has an axis of symmetry (not a center of symmetry). The initial explanation on what is central symmetry and how to find a symmetrical cell was – “From a given cell’s center we go to the center of the table, we take the distance that we’ve passed and we pass it again in the same direction. The cell we get to is the symmetrical one of the starting cell.” Some of the students were successfully finding the symmetrical cells one by one, but they were out of time – each level has a 30 seconds time limit.
After this first try, another strategy was introduced – we take each column, we find its symmetrical column and we reverse the first one onto the second:
After that, some of the students were doing the first levels quite fast. After that they had the idea, they started solving the levels without the strategies. Some of the students started doing levels successfully from the second section – table with constant rotation, which is quite a challenge for bigger tables.
The first 15 minutes of the second lessons were dedicated to revisiting the sections from the previous lesson. Some of the students were solving more than 15 levels of the maximum sixteen available. This means that the acquired sense of central symmetry was maintained through the pause of 1 day.
The game contains different combinatorial applets some of which are symmetry on a table, tile coverings, graphs and knot theory. Each applet has an exploration part, educational part and a competitive part. Students were introduced to the exploration and competitive part of the Table Symmetry Applet.
After they downloaded the updater with the help of the teachers, they successfully installed and started the game.
Each student had to create an account and password. The default restrictions – the username should contain only symbols and digits, the passwords should match and contain at least 6 symbols, and others – were challenging for some of the students.
Every student could investigate boards with different sizes and choose between axial and central symmetry. On the competitive part, some of the students passed both Beginner and Advanced sections (first two of the 4 available).
The activities took place between 11 February and 15 of April, 2022. Organizer: Korakaki Eleni High school students
These STEM activities were created for a secondary school with the objective to introduce the principles of the 3Rs – the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal use in science. Students developed their critical thinking and science literacy skills by exploring topics such as ethics in science and how the European Union is protecting the welfare of laboratory animals. The learning activities were created in a Course Management System (Open eClass), which is used in education and supports the electronic classroom service (e-Classroom) in all schools in Greece.
11/02/2022 The scenario started with a real -life question the purpose of which was to motivate students (flipped classroom). Also they had to carry out research with safe internet engines and answer some questions.
25/02/2022 In this lesson the students had been provided with some videos which presented the principles of 3Rs. A discussion followed and an online questionnaire was completed-the purpose of which was the self assessment of the students regarding the material presented. As homework the students had to carry out research with safe internet engines and answer some questions.
11/03/2022 The students read and commentated fragments of philosophical texts in relation to human attitude towards animals from the Middle Ages to contemporary era. Furthermore, the students wrote down their own thoughts and arguments about these issues and uploaded their texts in the eclass lesson (Open eClass).
1/04/2022 In the third lesson the students carried out bibliographic research using prescribed bibliography. They studied the principles of 3Rs and prepared presentations in pairs. Subsequently, a role play activity took place where one group presented and the other two were the assessors. Moreover the teachers formally assess the presentations with a rubric.
Additionally, as homework they completed an online questionnaire and formulated a series of questions to be submitted to the researcher during the online meeting.
15/4/2022 In the last lesson they had an online meeting with a research specialist in the field of animal experimentation and as a result they gathered more information about benefits derived from the animals used in science, the species used for experiments and the living conditions of these animals in Greece.
to educate students about the principles of 3Rs
to cultivate critical thought and scientific point of view
to develop awareness and sensitivity in students about all life forms
to help students perform proper bibliographic research
communication-becoming acquainted with research specialists in the field of animal experimentation.
to monitor the development of moral thinking concerning human attitude towards animals from the Middle Ages to contemporary era.
Learning -presentation of new materials and activities
a. 1st asynchronous distance learning (duration 10 min): Motivating students-
eclass.sch.gr (Open eClass)
Given safe internet engines for bibliographic research:
First of all, the answers to the questions of the previous lesson were discussed.
After that, the students watched two videos which presented the principles of 3Rs.
A discussion followed and an online questionnaire (I) was completed-the purpose of which was the self assessment of the students regarding the material presented.
(questionnaire I- self assessment )
Homework: An online questionnaire (II)
c. 3rd synchronous face to face learning (duration 45 min):
The students read and commentated fragments of philosophical texts in relation to human attitude towards animals from the Middle Ages to contemporary era. So, through the texts of Acquinas, the students were confronted with arguments for the exploitation of animals by any means, while through the texts of Mill and Singer, the students found arguments for the obligations that human beings have concerning animal life or arguments even about the very concept of animal rights. Furthermore, the students wrote down their own thoughts and arguments about these issues and uploaded their texts in the eclass lesson (Open eClass).
d. 4th synchronous face to face learning (duration 45 min): Lesson on Three Rs
Firstly, the students carried out bibliographic research using prescribed bibliography. They studied the principles of 3Rs and prepared presentations in pairs.
Secondly, a role play activity took place where one group presented and the other two were the assessors. Moreover the teachers formally assess the presentations with a rubric.
(Students and teacher evaluated the presentations)
Homework: Creation of a questionnaire
Based on the collected information, students formulated a series of questions which have been submitted to the researcher during the online meeting.
e. 5th synchronous face to face learning (duration 45 min): Meeting with an expert
An online meeting was held with a specialist scientist (the head of the animal management committee at the Biology Department of the University of Crete). The students had a discussion with the scientist as a result they gathered more information about benefits derived from the animals used in science, the species used for experiments and the living conditions of these animals in Greece .
After the completion of the lesson plan the students completed a survey in order to give feedback to their teachers about the content and the activities. Moreover the teachers completed a self assessment.
Questions and practice
Experiments on dogs led to the discovery of insulin. Do you believe that experiments on animals are necessary for scientific goals?”
Why are animals used in science and medicine?
What is the historical basis for the use of animals in science?
What are the animal welfare aspects?
Can we do science without animal testing?
How can we accommodate current concerns about animal life and rights with the undoubtful fact of exploitation of animals in the food industry?
The learning activities were created in a Course Management System (Open eClass), which is used in education and supports the electronic classroom service (e-Classroom) in all schools in Greece.
We tried to create a STEAM scenario with the combination of three subjects Biology, Chemistry and Philosophy, in order for our students to achieve 21st century skills.
The scenario was based in Students centered learning.
We used the Flipped classroom method and the Peer learning, students learn from peers and give other feedback participating in a role play activity.
With this learning scenario we wanted to introduce the students to the 3Rs principle, to cultivate their critical thought and scientific point of view, to develop awareness and sensitivity about all life forms, to inform them about the existing and prospective STEM careers and to help them perform proper bibliographic research.
This LS helped students to understand why animals are used in science and what the ethical, societal and scientific challenges are. In addition, it raised their awareness of new scientific laboratory techniques without the use of living animals according to the Three R´s principles. This lesson made them think about topics and issues they had never considered in the past and on the importance of science.
The students were asked to complete a survey after the implementation of the learning scenario, in order to give feedback about the content and the activities. They considered that the topic was very interesting. They enjoyed working in groups, reviewing the materials and collaborating. Also they emphasized on how this lesson made them think about topics and issues they had never considered in the past and on the importance of science.
In addition, the teachers evaluated this scenario and they found it very interesting. However they would like to repeat it, in collaboration with teachers from STEM and non-STEM subjects in order to enrich the activities with topics such as culture, customs, religious traditions etc.
From the evaluations it was obvious that the teachers needed more time to carry out STEM activities. Moreover, students made a lot of mistakes in questionnaire II, which was based on bibliographic research with safe internet engines. To improve their school performance it was given to them prescribed bibliography for the next activities.
According to scientific records, in 400 BC, animal experiments that started for anatomical structure studies, and in 100 BC, those experiments were done scientifically for the first time. Animal experiments, which increased rapidly with the Renaissance period, started to be discussed in the 18th century with the views that animals are not unemotional and that they are creatures that can feel like humans. In the 19th century, the idea that animal experiments should be done but ethical rules that impose certain limitations became widespread. In 1959, Russell and Burch introduced the 3R rules for animals used in experiments and these rules were accepted by scientists. In this activity, it is aimed to raise awareness among students about animal experiments, which have increased rapidly in the historical process and where ethical studies are intensified today. With the argumentation-based teaching method used in this activity, the starting point of which is animal experiments, it is aimed to support students’ scientific literacy by honing their critical thinking abilities.
Implementation of the event
The activity starts with word clouds to reveal the concepts that come to mind about the concept of animals and the associations formed by the students about animals.
Students are asked to think about our relationship with animals according to the question: “What is the place of animals in society?”. With a matching game in which students can explore the usage areas of animals in general, it is ensured that they gain awareness about the areas they do not think about or are not aware of. By asking the question, “What are the positive and negative areas where animals are used in society?” a discussion environment is created and students are asked to share their opinions.
Students watch videos about guide dogs, diabetes dogs, animals used in scientific and experimental studies and are asked to share their thoughts about each video. Thus, it is ensured that the students’ thoughts about the usage areas of animals are deepened.
After the videos, an argumentation-based activity is started that will improve the students’ critical thinking skills on the use of animals in scientific studies and experiments. Students are asked how they ethically evaluate the use of animals in scientific studies and experiments. He is asked to explain his claims on this subject with data and justifications using dilemma cards.
Students’ awareness raised by talking about the benefits of animal experiments from the past to the present, about the, alternative technological methods (dissection applications, medical simulators, chip organ …) that we can provide without using animals and 3R principles.
Students are asked to divide into groups and design a remarkable and awareness-raising poster for the use of animals in science in the light of the knowledge they have acquired during the lesson. Posters are displayed at school.
At the end of the activity, an evaluation is made using the questions in annex 4 with a fun game called “Boom”.
In the word cloud at the beginning of the activity, it was seen that the students included positive situations and examples about animals. At the end of the activity, the students stated that they noticed the negative situations related to the animals and they wanted the animals not to be affected by the negative situations. In addition, the students stated that they love animals and that animals are as valuable as humans and that ethical values should be followed in animal experiments. They stated that creating word clouds, matching and boom games were very enjoyable during the implementation of the activity, and they could think about the events in different ways during the discussions.
This learning scenario enables students to view events from different perspectives and experience different emotions together. At the end of the activity, it was seen that the students gained important gains about the concept of ethics in animal experiments.
STEM education was introduced in 2001 and was originally called “Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology”. It was an initiative created by the scientific administrators of the National Science Foundation of the USA. However, American biologist Judith Ramaley, then assistant director of education and human resources at the NSF (U.S. National Science Foundation), rearranged the word order and formed the acronym STEM.
STEM Education Initiative was created as a concept and set of educational methods that aim to provide all students with critical thinking skills and make them creative in solving problems, innovative and sought-after workforce in the labor market. STEM removes traditional barriers between these four disciplines, integrating four subjects into one cohesion curriculum (White, 2014).
STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are linked to real-world lessons. Students apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics in contexts that create a link between school, community, business and global enterprise, enabling the development of STEM literacy, and thus the ability to compete in the modern economy.
The goals of the STE (A) M movement are to transform education and to encourage the integration of art and design into the school curriculum. Art is more broadly defined by providing different functionalities and interdisciplinary connections between the four initial pillars of STEM. Thus, it can represent the language and philological sciences used to communicate and share new knowledge, physical activity – sports, dance and physical expression, fine arts, which contribute to understanding the cultural differences of past and present, music, through knowledge of rhythm and harmony are also directly related to mathematics, as well as history, psychology, philosophy, aesthetics, ergonomics and finally, reading through human activities that can be part of science, aesthetic creation or physical expression.
In the society we live in, equal living conditions create a big problem for disadvantaged groups. In the disadvantaged group; There are the elderly, the disabled, and children. People in this group should be given more opportunities. The disadvantaged group should be treated fairly, not equally. These groups lag behind other people in terms of both their movements and opportunities. Therefore, the disadvantaged group should have privileges.
Within the scope of our eTwinning project ‘Keys Of Life eTwinning Project’, which was carried out with the participation of 6 school teachers and students from 5 different countries; In the 2021-2022 academic year, citizenship education was given to 64 primary school students (Turkey), 17 primary school students (Slovakia), 15 primary school students (Italy), 26 primary school students (Romania), 20 primary school students (Bulgaria).
The students watched Lafounten’s Tale of the Fox and the Stork, which includes the concepts of justice and equality. They learned the concepts of equality and justice. Students researched the problems of disadvantaged groups in society. With this study, the students saw that the equality in society is a problem for the disadvantaged. They created their problem situations accordingly.
Students developed solution ideas for problem situations. The groups met and discussed their solutions. They searched for similar designs they found. Students drew their designs at the end of their work.
Students saw that in social life, equality situations are not justice for disadvantaged groups.They empathized with them while making their designs. They made their designs to make the lives of disadvantaged groups easier. Students became aware of disadvantaged groups in their daily lives.