About emmaabbate

I’m a teacher of Latin - History- Art and Geography in English since 1998/9, an expert in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). I teach in Cambridge International IGCSE® High School A. Diaz (Caserta), I'm trainer and author of digital content and free-lance researcher. I cooperate with the University of Naples L’ Orientale as an expert in CLIL Masters courses and I gained specific expertise in Erasmus+ project management as coordinator of several projects funded by the EU. I hold a BA in Literature, Latin, History and Geography teaching, MA in e-Learning and CLIL, and Ph.D. in History (University Federico II-Naples). I attended several master's degrees in teaching methodology and use of ICT, a Specialization Master in teaching students with special needs at the secondary level, and a Diploma for teaching Italian as a Foreign Language, both held by Orientale in Naples. I have far-reaching experience in continuous Professional development for teachers, teacher trainers, Headteachers (e-learning courses, blended courses, on-the-job, workshops) in the Italian context and also in international communities of peers on CLIL, Language Teaching, Technology Enhanced Language Teaching (TELL). I have presented papers at national and international conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals. Areas of expertise: Transnational cooperation, international project planning, and management, higher education, school education, CLIL, ICT, Historical research, e-learning, language learning, languages for specific purposes, Italian as a Foreign Language, blended learning, TELL, CALL, EFL, MALL, teacher training, school innovation.

A Virtual Lab- based learning activity aimed at the Rs framework’s comprehension

Are you looking for a catching activity to introduce your students to the principles of the 3Rs – Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement of animal use for scientific purposes?
Would you like to engage them in exploring humane experimentation and the welfare of laboratory animals in order to raise their interest in ethics and integrity in science?
Organizing a school visit to an animal facility is a good way to reach these goals but not easy to implement.
However, technology consents us to take a close look at research involving animals without moving from our classrooms: pupils can participate in a virtual, interactive Lab tour through the Lab Animal Tour. This website represents a great resource and an innovative learning setting because provides the visitor with a virtual ‘street view’ tour of four important animal research facilities in the UK: the University of BristolUniversity of Oxford, Mary Lyon Centre at the MRC Harwell, and The Pirbright Institute.
The 360-degree vision of animal rooms and surgical suites is really immersive and comes out as a perfect scenario for a lesson on the 3 Rs principles, also in remote learning.
When the tour starts, visitors are given maps of the four facilities, with a summary of the specialized research field for each Institute: rooms are labeled so it is easy to turn around and explore.

The map of the Oxford University animal facilities

The activity

The activity is thought for secondary students (15-16 years old) who are approaching the 3Rs principles in science.

The lesson can be facilitated by the science teacher together with the English as a second language colleague in order to support students in understanding the videos and labels in English they find on the tour

Oxford University’s primate research facility

This was the given assignment:

You will visit 4 virtual laboratories’ environments (one for each breakout room/group), check them accurately (click on the hyperlinks you find within the scene), and then discuss with your pairs the following:

  1. identify the animal facilities in the room aimed at refinement and explain their function;
  2. take inspiration from what you see in the scene and with your pairs think of your own enrichment product, such as a better cage design, or toy for the animal you have found in the lab;
  3. share your ideas on Flinga if you like

You will have about 30 minutes to complete the activity, after that, we will be back in the plenary (zoom) session for sharing the results (30 minutes)

(If the activity is online) To facilitate the collaborative exploration of the scene, one person can lead it by sharing his/her screen

You find the exact instructions to give to your students in this document with a sheet to print if the lesson is in presence.

The activity is entirely replicable online.

A scene from the Lab Tour

Students feedback

The participation of students was enthusiastic: they have shown to appreciate the digital tour as a diversion from the usual video watching tasks because it represents a more immersive and interactive experience (both online and in presence).

The investigation of the rooms and facilities has arisen pupils’ interest in animal experimentation and welfare in science, sparking their curiosity and encouraging them to further question the topic.

“But the film is a saddening bore”: Sci-fiction and memes to discover Mars

The idea

Have you ever considered to use memes and science fiction mistakes as tools to address spatial science in the classroom and ignite your students’ curiosity for Astrophysics?

Could a popular movie inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists?

Would it be possible to transform the memes’ creation from students as a task in a STEM lesson on Mars?

From Orson Welles’s radio adaption of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on October 1938, the Martian glamour has developed rapidly and enormously with Hollywood’s support.
The red planet’s allure is still a fact for young generations.

So, why not watch a good blockbuster film to teach some serious science since even NASA has dedicated a section of its website to the science fiction film industry?
That’s what we thought when we watched the 2015 Ridley Scott’s film “The Martian”: the film, approved by NASA, offers some very interesting insights that could be easily adressed in the classroom to convey STEM content.
The idea of using memes came from the many maths and scientific memes shared on social media: there are a lot of groups on the internet dedicated to memes on maths, science, and other STEM subjects.

Asking students to design a meme means involving them in a playful and creative activity that can be also linked to the curriculum topics: in this case, the meme’s realization would be aimed at learning the STEM concepts and not just for fun.

After having watched “The Martian”, facilitated by the teacher, students detect the mistakes and missteps that occurred in the movie, the most unrealistic features far from the effective Mars science.

All the mistakes are in depth analyzed and corrected. From the mistakes, students catch the idea for creating the meme by an online meme generator tool: the funniest are collected in a padlet.

One of the meme created from students


Man has been loving stories since he was born. f these stories are also well-packaged (as usual Hollywood does) and entertaining, then it is even more enjoyable to listen to them.
Using films to teach STEM (and Mars) through the investigation for the most paradoxical and amusing mistakes, is a recreational activity only on the surface, it enables solid and structured learning indeed.
If the film critical watching is accompanied by the creation of funny memes, then the game based approach allows for spontaneous and natural acquisition of the content.

Another meme created from students