To Smoke or Not To Smoke? It’s Not Questionable!

Hey you! Throw away that cigarette’s butt. Of course, put your cigarette out before tossing it in the ash catcher! It will take you a little time to answer the following questions. As a teenager, do you think youngsters are aware that cigarette smoke inhalation is a completely unnatural behaviour? Are they aware of the lethal mix of substances within cigarette smoke? Do they know how Tobacco production and consumption undermine the achievement of several targets related with Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030?

Well, on the basis of the results of the project we carried out in the last month, our answer could be summarised in this way: not enough!

We would like to raise students’ interest in Tobacco-related hazards. Not only those that directly affect smoker’s health, but also the ones that threat their families, their communities and people involved in tobacco farming. We would focus on the complexity of the problem rather than provide students with a reductive approach. Our Big Idea is that to find effective and suitable solutions, future scientists should also be able to face complexity.


We are a team of teachers from the Upper Secondary School “G. Galilei” in Jesi, a Technical Biotech School in the province of Ancona, in the Marche region. The school community vision is always leading us to contextualise learning in real-life. By means of a well-developed network at both local and international level, we are always provided with riveting opportunities to develop students’ and teachers’ abilities to cope with the challenges we are facing nowadays.


It all started in September, when a Professional Development Course to spread the use of Inquiry-Based Science Teaching was organized by the National Association of Science Teachers (ANISN). Under the guidance of two trainer teachers, Chiara Garulli and Luigina Renzi, we enhanced our capabilities to plan and implement our project. We also got the opportunity to deepen our knowledge in the field of Tobacco Hazards inviting experts from the Polytechnic University of The Marche Region. They also provide career guidance. “Professional Go Back to School”, the activity we used, is just one of the many ways to present STEM jobs in Classroom. Teachers can find plenty of resources in the guidelines developed by STEAM-(IT) / Stem Career Advisers Network. Finally, spellbinding ideas to promote active learning where grabbed from the MOOC “Active Learning and Innovative Teaching in Flexible Learning Spaces and the related Guidelines in learning space innovations | Unesco IIEP Learning Portal


Students were asked to solve a problem in group of four. They should prove which kind of cigarette was the most poisonous among several samples available for the comparison. They were provided with an apparatus for cigarette tar extraction, an analytical scale, lab glassware, laboratory oven, dryer, solvents, nicotine standard and other materials to perform Thin Layer Chromatography.

According to the different steps of the Scientific Method, students must form a hypothesis, a prediction based on observations and /or previous knowledge, avoiding any use of web search. The next step was to plan an experiment to prove their prediction right. The two steps were carried out using a think, pair and share activity. Each group should come up with a shared experimental plan. The following plenary discussion was aimed to present groups’ speculation and plan. No feedback was provided in terms of wrong or right answers but, teachers had the opportunity to guide them asking sense-making questions. The discussion helped the groups to improve the experimental plan. The experiments were implemented. Data were collected and analysed. Each group drew its conclusions and summarised the whole study using a scientific poster to give a presentation. Finally, findings were discussed in plenary to better understand weaknesses and strengths in each experience.

At the end of the day, students agreed on the best way to compare samples. It consists in a quantitative comparison, the gravimetric analysis of extracted tar from different samples. Further qualitative information could be gathered by means of thin layer chromatography based on the comparison of eluted tar samples and standards.

The final activity was aimed to explain features of tobacco first, second and third hand smoke and the effects of exposure on the human body. Information was provided about the carcinogenesis process induced by nitrosamine and benzopyrene metabolism, which is mediated by Cytochrome P450, a superfamily of enzymes responsible for oxidizing xenobiotics. Consequently, the concept of polymorphism was contextualized to explain the occurrence of altered or enhanced metabolisms that can lead to different health conditions among smokers. Last but not least, teachers make clear that no evidence were shown about the innocuity of Tobacco Heated Products and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems.


Considering the rate of our school students that choose to enroll in STEM academic courses, we would like to offer guidance for STEM careers related with the topic. Internships and Orientation programs provide a wide list of interlocutors to whom ask support to help students to discover the more appropriate career according to their passion, attitudes, willingness, and skills.

Keeping updated with the continuous changes we are experiencing both in education and the job market, whether local or global, is extremely relevant for teaching professionals and students. This way, we can cope with a challenge of paramount importance: to develop students’ hard and soft skills, which are fundamental assets in higher job market demand.

In this experience we got in touch with three experts from Polytechnical University of Marche (UNIVPM), Professor Pier Luigi Stipa, a chemistry researcher in charge of Orientation program for UNIVPM, Professor Stefano Gasparini specialized in pulmonary diseases and respiratory physiopathology and, a PhD candidate Giulia Lucia, who is studying the effects of cigarette butts on the natural marine environment.

Due to Covid19 restriction, the activity was held online. One of our students was in charge of explaining the undertaken learning pathway and the results in terms of raise of interest in the field and gaining of expertise and skills.

Then, students could pose some questions inheriting the careers of involved STEM professionals according to curiosities raised during the activity preparation. The expert addressed the questions and then gave a presentation.

Information was delivered according to the specific discipline approach that experts use facing different aspects of the same phenomenon, the tobacco consumption.


On top of that, the last part of the project concerned the interference of Tobacco farming and consumption with principles of equity, prosperity, and sustainability contemplated in 2030 Agenda’s SDGs. In groups the students were involved in the production of a podcast pilot episode. The aim was to raise awareness among their peers on the topic. Students were provided with original material from World Health Organization and  from another acknowledged project Sustainable Development or Tobacco – unfair tobacco. According to activity described in the picture, they had the opportunity to explore the materials and agree on the answers to relevant questions. The process enabled them to highlight the main facts they should use to raise awareness among peers.


Students’ transferable skills were assessed by means of ongoing observations based on criteria such as participation, accountability, and time management. Hard skills assessment was carried out during laboratory experiments by means of observations and then through the evaluation of poster contents. Knowledge assessment was carried out using open ended and multiple-choice questions.


The activity addresses a topic that is meaningful for the students. They are quite curious about the effects of such products. We spotlighted some misconceptions that must be confuted. According to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, awareness about the hazards related to Tobacco consumption is one of the most important measures to control the spread of this plague.

The activities the students carried out were not only an opportunity to contextualize their previous knowledge and abilities but also to test and develop new competences.

Authentic learning is an umbrella term that encloses all the different methods we used during this incredible journey. As in life, both of us students and teachers have experienced some problems facing new situations but, at the end of the day, we were all able to find solutions, to communicate with each other and, finally, to manage to become a better and upskilled version of ourselves.

Thank you for reading!

Climate Action!

Authors: Mario De Mauro, Claudia Cantamessa


Our journey started at the beginning of April 2021, we are two teachers from a high school in the centre of Marche region in Italy. – What do you think about a list of meaningful activity on sustainability that start from 22nd of April – Earth Day?  That should be a great occasion to kickstart something! – I have some terrific suggestions for you!

That was the beginning of a remarkably interesting collaboration. It was a very satisfying pathway: that led us and our students to share how our daily action could play a part in combating climate actions, to the whole school, by means of social media.


We intend to foster our students’ beliefs in their ability to play an active role in combating environmental issues, that we are facing in this 21st century. To allow our students (in their teens) in this age group to better relate to these climate issues, we started off by introducing Greta Thunberg’s speech in TED Talks. It would be impossible for them to ignore the powerful message that Greta has delivered. This would be our picklock to unlock their creativity and to engage them.

Being a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) activity, it was also an opportunity to introduce a glossary with useful vocabularies and phrases, to describe facts on Environment and Sustainability.

From a scientific point of view, we would like to highlight the relevance of data to explain phenomena and to set subsequent decisions. For instance, it has been demonstrated that global warming, the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere, is caused by human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity. Data collection and analysis are the first step in the design of reliable models predicting both the future scenarios and tailored effective policies, aimed to mitigate carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Learning Scenario Description

The way we delivered this idea is very simple but effective. “The Lazy person’s guide to saving the world” is one useful resource that is easily accessible online. It consists of different actions to diminish the exploitation of natural resources. We chose to explain it to our pupils, how simple it is to positively impact our environment by changing our daily routine. The second step was to ask them to select one action for each of the seven participating groups (3 pupils for each group). Each group was provided with three different actions from the guide. They were to select one of the three actions, according to its relevance to save the environment and its suitability, and how it could be applied in the daily routine of a teenager. At the end of the activity, a guide simpler than the original one was created with seven actions. The next step was the collection of data, based on each student’s one-week personal experience. To achieve this aim, the students had to complete a daily survey using a Google Form, that was used to collect data on the occurrence of the use of each action, for the whole period. The last step of our learning scenario was to ask the students to interpret simple charts showing the frequency of any action and determine whether to maintain their initial decision or to change it to a more “suitable one” better to replace with – practical action?.

As a final product, each group had to design one slide containing the action and one motto to deliver its message to the community, through the school’s social media.

Let’s see our planning in detail. Following are the activities with learning objectives. It is also made explicit, whether the task focuses on High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) or Low Order Thinking Skills (LOTS).

21st April – Introduction to Earth Day (Online)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

It was a listening activity: The Greta Thunberg’s call for action during the TED Talk (Stockholm, 2018)

Learning objectives:

  • to foster beliefs towards the importance of being active in this relevant challenge; 
  • to engage students and develop their agency: they have the ability and the will to positively influence their lives and the environment.

Synchronous activity; Teamwork in Google Chat virtual rooms: 

It was a writing and speaking activity, “Key questions about GT’s talk & Hot Words” to introduce the environment related words 

introduce environment related words

Learning objectives:

  • to broaden the range of vocabulary
  • to experience new digital tools for online team work;
  • to collaborate with peers to successfully complete a wiki task.

22nd April – Earth Day Homework (Online)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

The first part was a listening: teacher’s screencast explanation to The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. 

Learning objectives:

  • to learn the inspirational guide which would be the starting point of all the tasks;
  • to learn the exact pronunciation of the words and some translation;
  • to learn how effortless an individual can do to have a positive impact on the environment;

The second part was a writing: on Padlet: 1-1-1 exit slip strategy

Students had to answer questions about:

  • one thing they learned;
  • one thing they liked most.
  • one thing they had to query on..

Learning objectives:

  • to learn new digital tools for online team work;
  • to improve your ability to reflect on what you learned (HOTS);
  • to improve your ability to communicate using brief messages. 
Exit slip

23rd April – Think & Chose (Online)

This was a synchronous activity 

It is a speaking activity: Teamwork in Google Chat’s virtual rooms: “Think and Choose Activity

Sharing of the 7 freely chosen actions, which would be carried out in the next four days and recorded daily on Google Forms.

Guiding questions: 

  • Why is the action important to protect the environment?
  • How does this action positively impact on the environment? 
  • Is the action suitable for a positive change in my daily routine?

Learning objectives:

  • to develop your ability to express your opinions by explaining your points of view and to listen to the others’ opinions (HOTS)
  • to develop your critical thinking skills thanks to open-ended questions about the topic (HOTS)

24th April – 27th April – Testing the Classroom Guide To Saving…

Students experimented their chosen actions in their daily routines for four days. Data were then collected and students to decide whether to maintain or dismiss their initial decision.

26th April – Language implementation (Face to face)

Sharing comments on last Friday’s task

  • Matching words from the Glossary with their definitions

Learning objectives: 

  • language implementation and vocabulary enrichment;

28th April – 1st part of the lesson (Face to face)

According to Flipped Classroom principle we delivered an asynchronous activity (Homework).

The first part was a listening: “Causes and Effects of Climate Change”.

The second part was an online quiz created by the teacher.

Learning objectives:


  • To introduce the main aspects of the topic; causes of global warming, consequences on the environment, consequences on humans and, good news: It’s on us to change our routine and adapt to a “transformational step” in combating climate change.


  • To test your reading skills & contents comprehension
  • To highlight some misconceptions

Classroom-taught lesson Climate Change Overview 

Learning objectives

  • to make main contents of the topic clear;
  • to correct misconceptions;
  • to answer your questions from the padlet;
  • to answer your curiosities about the topic.

28th April – 2nd part of the lesson (Face to face)

Live tutorial: Getting ready for the final product: 3 slides + a motto

  • One word from the Glossary & its English definition 
  • Explanation in Italian with more details
  • Comment on group Action after a 4-day diary:
  • Our Motto

Learning objectives:

  • to use new technological tools for making WIKI presentations – Google Presentation

Team group work: planning about the last task for the following Friday;

Discussion starts from the results of the survey. 

Guiding questions

  • Does the chosen action suit the student’s daily routine? Why?
  • Would they replace it with another action from the guide that may be more suitable for their family lifestyle?

Learning objectives:

  • to learn how to use data to make decisions (HOTS)
  • to develop your critical thinking 
  • To provide opportunity to express personal creativity
Results of the survey

30th April – Group presentation, sharing of the three slides (Face to face)

The seven groups of students gave their presentation and received feedback from teachers to improve their final products: Just one slide containing images and reference of the author, the group’s action and a motto for dissemination through social media.

Action & Motto Group 2
Action & motto Group 4
Action & Motto Group 7

Metacognitive activity:

At the end of the final works presentation the teachers carried out a debriefing activity to reflect on, and recognize the knowledge, skills and attitudes used in the whole experience.

Learning objectives:

  • to develop personal awareness and insight of the inner resources that they can access in future experiences . 


In the light of the results, this was a useful activity to engage students in learning. Our scenario is centred on an existing topic, Climate Change and other major environmental issues. Bearing in mind that learning engagement is a good predictor of success, we are convinced that a real-life topic can stimulate students’ commitment about school subjects. If pupils have interests about the topic, that is both tangible and related to their lives, school activities could also be more appealing for them to participate and gain new awareness and comprehension that go beyond notional knowledge. Teachers are called to design engaging, meaningful and feasible activities and tasks for the students, avoiding too challenging stimuli. In this way, pupils have the chance to develop competences enthusiastically, due to the engaging activities which are both rewarding and interactive. In addition, the opportunity to see their works published give students a further motivation to commit themselves: an acknowledgement from peers, parents and teachers that will strengthen their self-esteem and beliefs towards academic success.

Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project…for citizens

Authors: Mario De Mauro, Milva Antonelli, Daniela Fiorentini, Massimiliano Loroni


Our learning scenario (LS) is centred on an existing topic, Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Bearing in mind that learning engagement is a good predictor of success, we are convinced that a real-life topic can stimulate students’ commitment around school subjects. If pupils have interests related to the topic, that is both tangible and related to their lives, school activities could also be more appealing for them to participate and gain new awareness and comprehension that go beyond notional knowledge.

Why did we choose this topic? There are more than one reason. First of all, it is a relevant part of our curriculum since it has been introduced by Italian Ministry Guidelines on Civics published according to the law n. 92 promulgated on 20th August 2019, titled “Introduzione dell’insegnamento scolastico dell’educazione civica”. Accordingly, Italian schools have had to organize a cross curricular course focused on three core subjects: Italian Constitution, Sustainability and Digital Citizenship.

Secondly, our point of view has changed since the pandemic has occurred. Now, we are aware that we may not be able to control the consequences, which are trigger by man-made forcing. Science is telling us that our lives cannot continue this way, changes have to be made. As adults we find the current situation quite challenging due to sudden modification of our habits, needless to say for a child or an adolescent. As teachers we are in charge to lead young people to cope with these challenges. We must stimulate and promote their agency, let them know that they have the ability and the will to positively influence their own lives and the environment around them! The way to do this is to build a safe and stimulating school community, to help them to actively explore their resources, to invest energy in STEM learning, to use their creativity, and to encourage them to maximise their potential.


Where should we start to enter our story? First, the design of the activity was a great opportunity to work as a team with colleagues and to put into practice all the knowledge gained during the online course. Yes, we are talking about the MOOCs provided by European Schoolnet Academy, it all started from there and the need to come up with a different approach to teaching. Even if lockdown has represented a new milestone in the teaching habits of all teachers, we were even more motivated to promote Active Learning in the classrooms.

We took several courses, but “STEM Is Everywhere! Rerun” & “Integrated STEM Teaching for Secondary Schools” in particular, were MOOCs both challenging and intrinsically satisfying. Finally, it was during the workshop organized by Future Classroom Lab, namely “Active Learning in Hybrid Classroom”, that we found the last piece of the missing puzzle: the use of virtual rooms for teamwork in small groups, the use of tools for instant polling and gamification. We would keep our words: to give students a say and a role even in online classes. The design of activities and tasks are therefore important to create educative interactions involving also the timid and reluctant students to participate. Without further ado, undo, we shall move on to the next step.

Materials and methods

The main idea is to provide students with opportunities to learn and discuss the meaningful aspects of the topic and then, to design an effective climate action that they are to require to carry out. We started introducing information and material such as charts, videos, and infographic, available in the UN websites  related to the Paris Agreement, the action programme Agenda2030 and the Sustainable Development Goal 13. Then we moved on to explore the evidence of global warming, of which the IPCC web site provides informative and comprehensible charts. The subsequent step was to explore the correlation between technological progresses, growth of global population, exploitation of natural resources over time and in different continents. To achieve this, OurWorldinData web site is a useful source with comparable charts and data. Finally, we deepened the understanding of the scientific principle behind the greenhouse effect by using a free simulation on the PHET online platform.

You can find all the resources that we used in this Site, LS included. With the aim to design a transdisciplinary activity we have used an absolutely useful resource, the STE(A)MIT template.

Home page of the

Our activities involved 62 students of the last year of the upper secondary school and took place between the 1st of March 2021 and the 26th of April 2021 during the lockdown, so they were held online using the Learning Management System that provided each member of our school community with tools for online learning.

According to Laurillard Conversational Frameworks, we tried to plan well balanced activities and tasks to train different abilities and to address different learning styles. Each Teaching Learning Activities (TLA) was designed giving students the opportunity to receive feedback on their products, to acquire new information through different kinds of tasks, to work and discuss with classmates and teachers. In particular, virtual rooms were used to allow students to work in small groups. Each group activity was designed with the aim to create opportunity for teamwork.

At the end of each lesson, an “End Lesson Survey” was conducted. Usually, it was divided into two sections; the first containing open questions which help students to reflect on their comprehension and knowledge gained. Questions could vary according to the type of activity. The second section was structured to allow students to provide feedback on the materials given and on the teacher’s explanation. It also allowed the opportunity for the students to give suggestions to improve the whole activity.

But now let’s have a look at our experience!

In the first meeting digital questionnaires were delivered to the students to test their current knowledge; then the teacher explained the objectives of the project and the task to be accomplished, which was to design a manifesto to attract interest of other students/citizens on Climate Change and tips to save carbon budget.

The second meeting was a brainstorming session: students watched videos introducing causes and effects of global warming and answered questions aimed to link previous knowledge gained, to information shown on the video. The questions were answered individually first and then within the groups. By discussing the answers, the main ideas on the topics were collected and teachers would guide the students by correcting misconceptions or integrating information. The teacher provided materials for asynchronous detailed study on Climate Change, Greenhouse Effect, Agenda 2030 and Paris Agreement.

Some students’ answers

The third meeting was a Team-based Learning Activity: students took individual Readiness Assurance Tests. The test provided automatic feedback containing instructions and links to guide the student. Then, they repeated the test in groups. They dealt with peers to answer the questions by pooling their knowledge. To engage group discussion, the test was carried out on Quizziz platform. This tool created an opportunity to participate in a team challenge. The test was split into four different quiz sessions, one for each subject: Agenda 2030 and SDG13, Paris Agreement, Greenhouse effect and climate change. In this way it was possible to retain a high level of students’ participation.

The fourth meeting tasks was based on contents of Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs’s talk: students watched the video at home, and they took note of the most important notions. The class activity got the students to answer ten open-ended questions based on the video content, which pupils answered in groups. Secondly, each member was asked to elaborate the answers individually by filling in his/her own Google Form. This way, the teacher could identify misconceptions and provide timely feedback or explain further to confute wrong ideas.

The fifth meeting implied the use of an online Greenhouse Effect Simulation – sensemaking by observing photons: this is a guided Inquiry Based Activity where students discovered interaction of photons with molecules in earth’s atmosphere and surface using a simulator model on Phet Active Simulation platform. Teachers guided the students in the activity, inviting them to follow instructions. These were initially designed by Amy Rouinfar and then reassessed by the teachers to match all the planned learning goals. The results in terms of summary and conclusions were corrected by the teachers and a final, detailed explanation was given to the students together with text and videos for a better comprehension.

Skype an expert: This activity was made possible thanks to the University of Camerino in collaboration with University of Turin. The students participated in a meeting with a UN Climate Change Expert, Dr. Andrea Camponagara whose speech was aimed to highlight the main aspects of his career as a Programme Officer at UNFCCC Secretariat. Students were encouraged to ask questions on the topic.

Skype an expert: flyer of the seminar

Infographic design (teachers set an agreement with pupils to establish a deadline): Each group has been asked to design a poster or an infographic summarizing all the information gathered. Students were aware of the criteria used to evaluate their work. They were also provided with materials to get information on how to design an infographic. The assignment has been provided with all information needed, criteria for self-assessment and peer assessment, with regards to commitment and preparation on the design of the activity. In addition, students were required to learn how to use images and citations to avoid plagiarism.

Peer review activity (teachers set an agreement with pupils to establish a deadline): Each member of the group was in charge of evaluating their peers’ infographics according to the rubric criteria. The aim was to deepen comprehension of both contents and assessment criteria, so they were better equipped in completing the task. Students were asked to leave constructive feedback for their peers. To achieve this aim, instructions were provided to improve pupils’ ability to objectively highlight the strengths and weaknesses to their peers, offering suggestions to improve the infographic.

Infographic evaluation: Taking into consideration the feedback received during the peer review activity, students could make any changes to their work before presenting it to the teachers. Teachers then evaluated the posters/infographics according to the rubric criteria. We evaluated also the students’ ability to self-assess and peer-assess. Each student was also asked to assess his/her own and their group mates’ commitment, according to the criteria provided.

Some students’ infographics


We used formative assessment as the main type of assessment and it was quite useful in evidencing misconception from pupils. Thanks to the use of LMS, it was also possible to check if each student has fulfilled the asynchronous task properly and within the deadline. In the light of results, it was possible to have a profile of all students’ needs with regards to the project and to provide both personal feedback and materials to acquire deeper competence on subjects. In this way it was possible to focus on those that appear as relevant gaps to learning goals.

The use of “end lesson surveys” was extremely useful to understand students’ comprehension. Students expressed their perceptions obtained from the materials given to them and from the teachers’ explanation. They were also capable of pointing out areas which they did not understand completely. To achieve this aim, they needed to reflect on the activities being carried out. This process was useful for fostering their metacognitive skills and for aiding students to orientate their efforts toward academic success. Survey responses were also helpful to identify any students who express further interest in the topic.


In conclusion, according to Partnership for the 21st Century framework (P21) we tried to develop creativity, life and career skills, information e media literacy, soft and hard skills, by mixing one of the most important topics of our century to the core of the subjects we teach. It goes without saying that this is just a start to innovate teaching. Collaboration among teachers must be systematic and the frequency of such learning scenarios should be significant during the whole period of training of students, with the aim of growing benefits and results. Both students and teachers need time to fine tune their effort to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

On the other hand, it is clear that even if demanding, this pedagogical approach can stimulate the whole school community. Teachers must design engaging, meaningful and feasible activities and tasks for the students, avoiding too challenging stimuli. Accordingly, Formative Assessment is fundamental to design a personalized learning pattern. In this way, pupils have the chance to develop competencies enthusiastically, due to the engaging activities which are both intrinsically rewarding and interactive. As mentioned earlier on, as teachers we were implicitly stimulated, the teamwork and the eagerness to see our efforts being acknowledged in the community to which we are tied to, have given us a further will to improve our results.