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Education and Global Warming

This post was originally published on the Scientix blog.


“The real is less rich than the possible”

/Ilya Prigogine/

The concept of sustainability was proposed for the first time by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, which defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Development must ensure, in other words, the coexistence of the economy and the environment. Today, “sustainability” is recognized as a key word for the society of the twenty-first century.

The idea of ​​sustainable development is inevitably linked to the political agenda of governments, which have the responsibility of making their populations aware of its crucial importance. It is possible to reach an ever-increasing number of citizens only through research and educational practices, focusing not only on the problems that influence sustainability, but also on the possible solutions, identifying all the stakeholders to be involved, including representatives of industry, science, schools and local authorities.


The primary objective of the idea of ​​sustainability is the attainment of a sustainable society. This achievement involves three different systems: global, social and human. All three are indispensable for the coexistence of human beings and the environment. The current crisis can be analysed in terms of the breakdown of the communication between them.

  • The global system includes the entire planet (geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere), which provides natural resources, energy and a supportive ecosystem. It is characterised by wide fluctuations regarding climate and the earth’s crust, which are the subject of study of the Earth Sciences and deeply influence human activity and survival. Vice versa, the considerable increase in anthropic activities destabilizes the behaviour of fluctuations in the global system. Global warming and ozone layer destruction are two critical examples of human-induced change.
  • The social system is constituted by the relationships that are created between the political, economic and industrial structures. It is strongly dependent on economic growth and technological progress, which inevitably bring about new social problems such as pollution or the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. These issues affect the social system first, then the global system as a whole. In addition, the declining birth rate in the most developed countries raises serious questions about the family as a fundamental unit of the social system. Taken together, these problems require a radical re-examination of the idea of a well-off or established society.
  • The human system is the complex of the factors that influence the survival of human beings; connected to the social system, its functioning requires the creation of lifestyles and values ​​that allow people to live well and safely. Human beings suffer from physical and emotional discomforts, often due to the inequities of the social system. An increase in these problems exerts considerable pressure on the social system in the long run. Consequently, the stress and the deterioration of the environment also affects the human system. Poverty, hunger, diseases, lack of housing and social exclusion, especially in developing countries, are typical of this trend. In extreme situations, the weakening of sustainability degenerates into wars and conflicts.

What are the problems that occur on a global scale because of the strong interactivity of the three systems and which scenarios are outlined?


Resources from Scientix repository

The following resources are good examples that you can use during your lesson dealing with global warming.

  1. Collection of experiments on CO2 and Greenhouse Effect
  2. A greenhouse as large as the earth
  3. Greenhouse Effect in vitro!
  4. Chemistry in Everyday life: Carbon cycle
  5. CarboSchools booklet: What we have learned, what we still don’t know and what we must do to combat climate change
  6. Global warming
  7. Health and Climate Change
  8. CPI: Global Warming and Seas


How do you integrate these resources into learning scenarios?

Global warming is a natural process that keeps the planet warm and hospitable for living organisms. The greenhouse effect is the warming of the earth beyond this natural process of global warming. The greenhouse effect states that gases in the atmosphere, such as CO2, might increase the surface temperature of Earth.

The resources can permit to the students observing the greenhouse effect. Perform an investigation by a scaffolding technique: they follow the instructions in the resources accessible to the links.

Then they summarize what they have learnt in the previous activities. Answering questions, they can confirm or dis-confirm their hypothesis.

Image is author’s own

Inquiry and assessment units aims to enable students to consider scientific data and determine whether or not the evidence supports the phenomenon of global warming. Additional activity presents an editorial, which the students should analyse to judge its scientific merit. This activity may be implemented at lower or upper secondary level depending on the curriculum objectives. The key skills that can be developed through these activities will permit to elaborate coherent discussions, distinguishing opinions from facts, working collaboratively following scientific reasoning. In this way, the students also enrich their scientific literacy through the evaluation and use of scientific data/information. The assessment method emphasised is that of self-assessment and rubrics are provided for students to use for evaluation of their own work. The key skills assessed were forming coherent arguments, scientific reasoning and scientific literacy, with an emphasis on the analysis and interpretation of scientific data and results. The assessment methods used include self-assessment, peer assessment, classroom dialogue and evaluation of student’s worksheets and other artefacts.

The Earth’s climate is changing ever faster, and human activities play a role in speeding up this change. Other resources give the opportunity to verify how climate change affects our health. In a related activity, using an on-line simulation game, students must sustain the health of the global community by implementing strategies and performing research in order to prevent disease and combat the effects of global warming.

Another interesting activity to be conducted in the classroom could be to estimate the impact in terms of greenhouse effect of the mobility of a class.

The same activity could be extended to the institute to lead to the election of the class with the lowest environmental impact in terms of CO2. Students could also involve their parents in research and estimate the environmental impact of their mobility.

After estimating the carbon dioxide emitted due to mobility, students could be asked to estimate the number of trees needed to fix this gas in order not to increase the greenhouse effect.

Using an on-line simulation game, students must sustain the health of the global community by implementing strategies and performing research in order to prevent disease and combat the effects of global warming.


Today, the question is no longer whether the current trend of climate heating will continue, but how and how much. The scenarios that we can foresee must take into account the complexity of the climate system. What will we need to check?

The variables involved are:

  • the temperature;
  • atmospheric circulation;
  • precipitation;
  • extreme events;
  • ice and glaciers,
  • the sea level.

The direct consequences of climate change have repercussions on:

  • the distribution of water resources;
  • the quality of the soils that will tend to deteriorate;
  • ecosystems that will no longer be able to dispose of carbon dioxide;
  • the coastal marine environment that will suffer from increasingly higher levels of sea damage;
  • human health: the increase in the mortality rate is predictable as well as the intensification of some heat-related diseases in the presence of dust or infections.

One thing is certain: climate change is producing an effect increasingly relevant. The factors behind climate change are complex, dynamic, interlinked, and not easy to predict.

It is therefore important to involve the younger generation in the study and in STEM professions so that they can actively contribute to making the earth still a liveable place.



Hiroshi Komiyama Æ Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Sustainability science: building a new discipline, Sustain Sci (2006) 1:1–6, DOI 10.1007/s11625-006-0007-4


Cover image: (CC BY 4.0)

Authors: Andrea Checchetti, Nectara Mircioaga, Massimo Saccoman

Science Education with Inquiry-based Learning

This post originally appeared on the Scientix blog.

Yes, you have probably heard a lot about inquiry-based learning and some of you might have even practiced it with your students. Rooted back to the 1960’s debates about the nature and aim of science education, this pedagogical method has been around for almost 30 years now, as a constructivist approach for science education.

But, what really is inquiry-based learning in science education, can we describe it? Why is it so popular? What are the benefits for the students? Are there any obstacles during the implementation? Any useful tips? We can easily think of many other questions for this topic, but there is no need to look any further for the answers.

Projects like MASS (Motivate and Attract Students to Science), have got all the answers about IBSE.

Description and definition

There are many approaches and opinions about what IBSE is. In the literature, IBSE is usually described as learning in which students construct knowledge through predicting, observation and hands-on experiments in the same way as during real research. Teachers guide the learning process, which is essentially student-centered.

IBSE works with the presumption that inquiry is the essence of science. Planning, specification and realization of experiments is an important part of the process of acquiring key concepts. Inquiry gives students a chance not only to learn, but also to understand the process of producing scientific findings and thereby experiencing the nature of science. In IBSE, acquiring new concepts and research methods goes hand in hand.

There are a lot of variations of IBSE, sometimes described as the spectrum of inquiry, but there are also some core characteristics that are basically the same in any case.

A categorization based on the role distribution between teachers and students was presented by Eastwell (2009):

  • Confirmation inquiry – the responsibility for both the question and methodology is shifted to students; results are known, the aim is to verify them by students’ work
  • Structured inquiry – the question and a possible methodology is presented by the teacher; students formulate an explanation of the studied phenomenon
  • Guided inquiry – teacher asks a research question; students create and realize a method
  • Open inquiry – students ask questions, think about a method, conduct research and formulate results

 IBSE benefits for the students at the 21st century

IBSE is not only for students aiming at a scientific career. It also helps developing skills useful in various real life situations and are not limited in educational only settings e.g. motivation to study, critical and creative thinking, logical deduction, ability to make a work plan, independence, responsibility and also cooperation among peers. Students should be gradually introduced to these skills from the early school years. The following are considered of great importance:

Critical thinking. Critical thinking is connected not only to the ability to ask questions, but also with the ability to ask the right question at the right time. Very important is the way students work with mistakes. They do not accept failure as a fact, but think what could have been done in another way.

Cooperation. During IBSE, students often work in small groups where students cooperate and communicate, or they work in teams where each student has their own role. Cooperation ability means that a student can accept a role or task, or even ask for one – suggesting what they could help with during the lesson. Students take their roles responsibly and in case of failure they do not put the blame on others. On the contrary, students should learn how to ask others from the group for help.

Communication. Students use communication skills during the teamwork, but they practice them also when they speak on their own – for example while giving instructions, explaining the progress on an experiment or presenting results.

Do any of the above remind you of the 21st_century_skills? Well they should! 21st century skills comprise skills, abilities, and learning dispositions that have been identified as being required for success in 21st century society and workplaces by educators, business leaders, academics, and governmental agencies. These skills differ from traditional academic skills in that they are not primarily content knowledge-based.

How to start with Inquiry-Based Science Education

For those of you that always wanted to start but didn’t know how, here are some quick tips:

a) Open communication and respect

It is very important to set up a safe environment in the class where open communication and respect for others prevails and where students feel safe and comfortable. It would be difficult to apply inquiry-based pedagogy in a class where students do not trust each other or their teacher, where they are afraid to communicate and to share their opinion.

b) Cooperation over competition

An atmosphere of cooperation, should be supported, rather than that of a competition. The aim is not to get the correct result for an experiment as quickly as possible, but to have one’s own method and achieve a result, which can differ from the results of others.

c) Tools and equipment

Inquiry can be applied even without expensive equipment such as microscopes or pH meters. In many lessons plastic bottles, scissors and a ruler are sufficient.

d) Do not give the answers

The principle of inquiry is NOT to reply to all questions posed by students (even if the teacher knows the answers). Instead it aims at motivating students to search for answers individually through their own research and experiments, through literature reviews in books or on the Internet. This way, their interest in the topic is kept high and students look forward to future lessons.

e) Teachers as researchers

Applying inquiry-based pedagogy in the classroom certainly places considerable demand on the teacher, also in terms of time spent for preparation. Students should be able to turn into a researcher themselves, to pose questions, to investigate and be enthusiastic about students’ discoveries.

Furthermore, the MAAS Project, is here to help you, providing a very detailed Teachers Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning, where you can also find some pros and cons, as well as several training activities for inquiry steps and  exemplary lessons for various science classes.

So, why don’t you go ahead and give it a try?





Eastwell, P., & MacKenzie, A. H. (2009). Inquiry Learning: Elements of Confusion and Frustration. The American Biology Teacher, 71(5), 263-266.


Other relevant resources about Inquiry-Based Learning


This handbook offers six different scenarios that are meant to help teachers design ILSs (Inquiry Learning Scenarios). Each scenario represents a specific pedagogical method within the overall Go-Lab inquiry approach. The six Go-Lab inquiry scenarios are labelled as follows: the Basic scenario, the Jigsaw approach, Six changing hats, Learning by critiquing, Structured controversy, Find the mistake. This scenario handbook also contains a series of “tips and tricks” (T&T) for creating ILS.

Go-Lab project


This collection of SAILS Inquiry and Assessment Units showcases the benefits of adopting inquiry approaches in classroom practice, exemplifies how assessment practices are embedded in inquiry lessons and illustrates the variety of assessment opportunities/processes available to science teachers. In particular, the units provide clear examples for teachers of how inquiry skills can be assessed, alongside content knowledge, scientific literacy and scientific reasoning and illustrate the benefits of various types of assessments.

Sails – Strategies for Assesment of Inquiry Learning in Science Repository Website

MASCIL – Μaterials and resources for the classroom and teacher professional development.

MASCIL aims to connect inquiry-based science and mathematics education (IBSE) in schools with students’ future careers and increase their interest in careers in science and technology.
The project develops and organises training courses for teachers and trainee teachers on IBSE in vocational contexts and with support from industry and informal learning.

The courses are complemented by materials and resources for the classroom and teacher professional development. They are available in the project’s resource repository, together with notes for teachers, explaining the pedagogical approach behind each classroom resource.

MASCIL Project – Mathematics and science for life


S-TEAM brings science education and teacher education together to make inquiry-based science teaching methods more widely available. This improves young people’s attitudes to science and aims to increase entry to science careers.

This teacher guide describes a cross‐curricular project on design and technology at  Ruseløkka, a school in Oslo, Norway. It aims at providing teachers, school leaders and  educators with ideas and inspiration for how an extensive project like “Wheels on Fire”  can be undertaken. This includes organization, pedagogy and equipment, as well as how  the various school subjects can contribute and learning outcome be assessed. At the  hearth of the project is pupils’ learning by self‐driven inquiry and problem solving in  designing and making their own individual car model in plastic driven by an electric  motor.

S-TEAM – Science Teacher Education Advanced Methods

PRIMAS guide for professional development

PRIMAS aim was to support and foster the use of inquiry-based teaching strategies in maths and the science subjects. The project has composed a guide for professional development providers that offer courses for mathematics and science teachers in IBL pedagogies. The guide outlines PRIMAS approach and important concepts relating to the IBL professional development courses. Besides overall support and dissemination of the idea of IBL, PRIMAS provides teachers with a collection of teaching materials.

The PRIMAS project: Promoting inquirybased learning (IBL) in mathematics and science education across Europe

Aleksandra Blazhevska & Ioannis Lefkos

Building 3D holograms with your students

This post is originally published on the Scientix blog.


A hologram is a three-dimensional image of an object that we can almost grasp. Many students following videos on the Internet know how to make a holographic projector. In this article we want to use poor materials and technologies to create an interdisciplinary teaching activity on holograms that stimulate curiosity and make them protagonists in STEM activity useful for Mathematics, Science and Computer Science.

The Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only one known to have life. In the ancient past, there have been many claims and beliefs about the shape of the Earth. At first it was believed that we lived on a flat plate, until the 4th century BC. At the time of Pythagoras, there was no doubt about the beliefs of the past.
The first evidence that the Earth was round was found by Aristotle in the 4th century BC, when he noticed that the shadow, that the eclipsed Moon throws on its surface, is always round.
Magellan set off on a one-way journey around the Earth and almost without changing direction and path, returned to the same point he had gone from.
One sunset can be seen twice the same evening. If we lay down first, we will see it once, and when, from our point of view, it goes, it is enough just to stand up and continue to watch the same sunset. This is another thing we could not do if the Earth was not round.

Advanced technology has enabled a detailed study of the universe, so it has long been known that all other planets are of round shape, which also indicates the shape of the Earth, since it is one of the planets.
A globe is a spherical model of Earth. A globe is the only representation of the Earth that does not distort either the shape or the size of large features – land masses, bodies of water, etc.
Using a 3d hologram, we can faithfully show the shape of the Earth.

Map is a mathematically determined representation of the Earth’s surface or some part of it on a flat, reduced surface. Because of the curvature, the Earth’s surface can’t be displayed in a plain without deformation, and not all details and all objects on the Earth’s surface can be displayed.

In order to understand maps we will use Let’s Map the Earth resource.

But how do you actually create a hologram?

First you need to build a holographic projector; we use cheap, everyday materials (sheet of paper, transparent plastic sheet, scissors and transparent tape) and a device (smartphone, tablet, monitor of a laptop or desktop PC):

  1. For the tablet: draw and cut on the transparent sheet 4 equilateral trapezoids 8 cm high, 12 cm major base and 2 cm minor base. If you use a smartphone: half the previous measures, if you use a laptop: double them. Students can use the proportions to build trapezoids similar to those given considering the size of the screen you are using.
  2. Glue the oblique sides of the trapezoids with adhesive tape and build a square-based pyramid trunk, this is the holographic projector.
  3. You can project holographic videos taken from Youtube on earth, planets, animals, flowers, etc. For example using this one.
  4. You can build a holographic video using Adobe Premiere software. Unfortunately, only a 7-day-long trial is free for Adobe Premiere, but…
  5. … you can use an app, such as Holo or PowerPoint, for completely free.
  6. You can also create a holographic video with Scratch by rotating the sprite 90 °, 180 ° and 270 °, so the students animate all the sprites rotated with the same script and also do coding activity.

How can you integrate the hologram activity into your lessons?

You can experiment and use this activity with primary and secondary school students, with varying degrees of difficulty.
Holograms can be used to make the study of different scientific subjects, the proportions, the properties of geometric figures (trapezoids and pyramid trunks) geometric transformations (rotations and central symmetries) and the laws of physics on refraction and reflection of light in a more captivating way.


The Hungarian physicist Dennis Gabor had understood how to make holograms since 1947, but only since the sixties, with the construction of the first laser devices, these images have spread. In this article we have described a simple way to make holograms with cheap, everyday materials and very common technologies. We also familiarised ourselves with the concept of a map by observing and describing maps, and drawing a map from an aerial photograph. After completion, students will understand that any location on Earth is described by two numbers, latitude and longitude. The notion of scale and ratio is also explored. We propose to use them while teaching STEM subjects to enhance also the informal knowledge of the students. The activity is also inclusive for students with special educational needs because it can be carried out to explore subjects with different levels of difficulty and is very engaging and motivating.

Useful resources to deepen your knowledge

Technological developments and 3DHologram Technology

From coding to modeling

Doughnuts in programming – how to use the Scratch programming language to develop the logical and mathematical skills

Authors: Rosa Marincola (Scientix Ambassador from Italy), Bojana Mitriceski Andelkovic (Scientix Ambassador from Serbia)