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About Stavroula Skiada

ICT and Computer science teacher in primary and secondary education in Greece since 2003. #TeachSDGs ambassador, Scientix ambassador and certified member of the STEM Career Advisers Network

The microplastic detectives

School: 8th Primary School of Nea Filadelfeia, Athens, Greece
Name: Stavroula Skiada
Participants: Stavroula Skiada (Computer Science teacher), Ioannis Makris (headmaster) and the students of the 6th grade (11 to 12 years old)
Implementation Dates: 15/3/2022 – 15/4/2022

Abstract

Based on the Scientix resource of Futurum: «Detecting Microplastics in a great lakes watershed» by Julie Peller, the students of the 8th Primary School of Nea Filadelfeia implemented an interdisciplinary project of the STEAM methodology. Specifically, the project aimed to raise awareness of the adverse effects of the widespread presence of microplastics in the oceans and in the food chain. The students gained a basic understanding of the plastic life cycle, the fragmentation of plastic to microplastics, and the variety of sources that plastic particles can be originated from. Moreover, they became citizen scientists by participating in a meaningful scientific research about microplastics (microbeads) in cosmetic products. In addition, they did experiments to discover hidden microplastics not only in the chemistry lab but also as an outdoor activity to a nearby lake.

Context of implementation

The project was implemented in the ICT and chemistry lab during the ICT and Natural Science lessons. Four disciplines of STEAM methodology were included (Science, Technology, Art, and Mathematics) and the collaborative and inquiry-based learning educational approaches were followed. Additionally, the teachers that participated in this project (the ICT teacher and the headmaster of the school) played the critical role of the facilitators providing the necessary scaffolding and teaching of skills when necessary. Moreover, the equipment of the chemistry lab was used (conical flask, stirring rod, filter funnel, and mass balance) in parallel with the technical equipment of the ICT lab (workstations, internet access, projector, interactive whiteboard). In the final phase of the project, an active learning and experimentation in the outdoors took place to boost motivation, physical skills, and the ability of students to work cooperatively in the nature.

Stages of implementation

let’s meet plastic

In the beginning of the project, the students were introduced to the notions of plastic, plastic waste and plastic soup using the interactive lessons of Life Terra – “Terra Mission Waste” and “Terra Mission Water”. To deepen their knowledge of further issues relating to the plastic problem, the students watched the interactive video “The story of plastic“. At their own pace in the ICT lab, they answered questions regarding the plastic’s life cycle and the true causes and consequences of the global plastics crisis. After that, to have a complete knowledge of the harmful effects of plastic, the students studied and analysed given infographics and wrote in a google doc their thoughts and concerns about the global impact of plastic pollution.

The interactive lesson of Life Terra – “Terra Mission Waste”

let’s meet microplastics

At this phase, the students acquired new knowledge about the microplastics and their categories. Firstly, they studied the vocabulary of “microplastics” from Julie Peller’s article and her interview about chemistry. Thus, the students learned how to talk like a chemist, how a plastic is fragmented to microplastics and how a research is conducted. Secondly, in groups, they searched the web to find information about the hidden microplastics in everyday life, the categories of them (microbeads, microfibres, nurdles, foam, and fragments) and their harmful effects in people’s health. Further, the teams created a digital wall (padlet) and “hung” on it all the images and their browsing-related information.   

Studying Dr Julie Peller’s article from the Scientix resource repository

the Discovery of the hidden microplastics

The students were familiarized with Citizen Science by watching a relevant video and installing the citizen science app “Beat the microbead” to the ICT lab’s mobile devices. Subsequently, in groups, they scanned the ingredients on packaging of school’s cleaning products using the app and recorded the microbead findings to the team’s class worksheet. As a homework, the students used the same app, with the assistance of their parents, scanned the ingredients of their personal care products and kept records of their research results to a similar worksheet.

The young Citizen scientists collect and share data through the “Beat the Microbead” app

the young girl chemists and their experiment

At the chemistry lab of the school, the “Discover the microbeads” experiment took place by the girl students to excite and empower them with knowledge and confidence in STEM. For this purpose, the young girl scientists calculated the mass of microplastics (gr) in a certain volume of water mixed with the cosmetic product. In the next step, with data given by the teachers and information obtained from the experiment, the students calculated the mass of microplastics (gr) a person generates in a year while using the specific product. Finally, they calculated the percentage of microplastic in the whole mass of the product.

“Discover the microbeads” experiment

The lake experiment

During this outdoor activity, the students visited the artificial lake of Nea Filadelfeia’s park. The students were inspired by the experiment that Dr Julie Peller’s team did. Specifically, the team of Dr Peller tested for the presence of microplastics and microfibres in surface waters flowing into Lake Michigan. In like manner, the little scientists repeated the experiment using the lake’s water. At the beginning, with the chemistry lab’s equipment, they collected an amount of water (ml) from the lake and filtered it through cotton pads. In the aftermath, the mass of microplastics (gr) found into the water was calculated and the measurements were recorded to the experiment’s worksheet.

The lake experiment

At the same time, another group of students collected the plastic waste around the lake, and also weighed the mass of it. As a result, the data gathered were used for the calculation of the total mass of plastic around and in the lake. Most importantly, the students recycled the plastic waste to the appropriate bins.  

Dissemination through Art

To underline the importance of “A” (Art) in STE(A)M education, the final part of the project consisted of creating infographics and designing. In other words, using web 2.0 tools, the students visualized their proposals for a plastic-free life with engaging imagery and information data. They also painted, by hand or digitally, the life cycle of microplastics in the food chain. The creations of the students were used to decorate the school’s classrooms and corridors as a means of raising awareness to the school community.

“Micoplastic in food chain” designs

Furthermore, a content curation platform (Wakelet) was used to organize the educational material of the project, to post and share content, videos, photos, results of the experiments and learning outcomes. A video with all the sequential activities was made as well and was communicated through social media, school’s website, and e-magazine.     

https://vimeo.com/703460056
The project’s activities

[Event] Reducing Energy, Increasing Sustainability

School: 8th Primary school of Nea Filadelfeia, Athens Greece
Participants: Students of 6th grade (11 to 12 years old)
Implementation dates: 7 February – 18 March 2022

Author: Stavroula Skiada

Introduction

Having in mind that energy supply is tightly intertwined with many of the most damaging and dangerous environmental problems, a team of 6th grade students at the 8th Primary School of Nea Filadelfeia decided to change behaviors and raise awareness to the school community in pursuit of the sustainable well-being goal. Technology for good (Tech4Good) was the stimulus for the students to use the BBC micro:bit controller to address the critical challenge of energy-wasting habits in the school.

Logo of the project
The logo of the project

Abstract

The STEM project “The Energy Awareness” was integrated into the cross-thematic national curriculum. It aimed to introduce students to basic skills of programming, computational and critical thinking, collaboration, and decision making. Moreover, STEM methodology promotes the 21st century skills and behavioral competencies. In addition, the use of innovative technology in the class contributes to sustain students’ optimal motivation and help them apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science. Concisely, the students monitored the energy use of light bulbs or tubes at different areas of the school and the time the energy source was in use. After that, they calculated the energy use in kWh. Then they collected all the data to a spreadsheet, presented them and informed the school leadership about the lights that need replacement. At the final phase of the project, qualified electricians changed the fluorescent light bulbs with LED ones.

Steps of the project

The coding part

In the beginning of the project, the students programmed their controllers to monitor the electric light use on the school premises. They implemented the coding part in the Microsoft MakeCode environment and turned the BBC micro:bit controller into an energy light meter. Using the MakeCode blocks, students stored the light level recorded by the micro: bit’s built-in light sensor in a variable (values between 0 and 255). The value closest to 255 means that this area needs more natural light. As a result more electricity is being used to provide the light needed. In the same time, students collected data using another variable to measure how long the light has been switched on in minutes. Most importantly, the code was kept simple in order the students to understand the process and the calculations, while the teacher took on the role of a facilitator to provide the necessary scaffolding.

Designing the school’s plot

In a subsequent step, a student of the team drew the plot of the school building to plan the light level measurements. In other words, the team pinned the spots where they should place the controllers and take light readings. Specifically, the students selected the areas of the ICT lab, the corridors, the classrooms, the school’s library, and the canteen.  The rooms away from daylight, such as the school canteen and the corridors, were measured with the highest value of light use (values close to 255).

Steps of implementation

Data collection, processing and presentation

After the measurements of the light levels, the students collated the data in a spreadsheet and calculated the amount of energy used in kWh given the time and power consumed by electric lighting (kWh = watts ÷ 1000 × minutes ÷ 60). Subsequently, the team presented to the headmaster the numeric data and their visual representation in graphs. Moreover, a concrete solution was provided by the students: the fluorescent tubes or bulbs consume more energy than the LED ones. Consequently, the fluorescent lights of the places with the highest energy consumption should be replaced immediately.

Data presentation to the school’s headmaster

Final step

The last activity at the closing phase of the project was the replacement of the old lights with new LED bulbs or tubes from the municipal electricians. The headmaster of the school informed the Municipal Education Directorates and communicated to them the data collected by the students and their proposal. Additionally, the students recycled the old lights to the light-bulbs recycling bin of the school. Last but not least, the headmaster of the school promised the project team that during the upcoming months qualified electricians will replace all the old lights so as to reduce the energy footprint of the school.

Replacement of the fluorescent tubes in the school canteen

Conclusions

The educational objectives of “The Energy awareness” project were achieved. Students monitored the energy wasted in the school, collected good data to make decisions and presented the data, numerically and graphically, to help inform decisions. Actually, they had a positive impact on Climate change by contributing to the achievement of the “Affordable and Clean energy” sustainable development global goal 7. The educational approach of all the four disciplines of the STEM methodology during the implementation of this project fostered ingenuity and creativity, encouraged knowledge application and teamwork and taught problem-solving. Finally, yet importantly, the project engaged different stakeholder groups, including teachers, school leadership, municipality and most of all, students, in working toward a common goal. The collaboration between the school and the local community created an environment of shared values.

https://vimeo.com/700568534
A video with all the activities of the “Energy Awareness” project

For more information visit:

Technology to prevent Earthquakes, Safe Cities for all

Author: Stavroula Skiada

The logo of our project

School: 8th Primary school of Nea Filadelfeia, Athens Greece
Participants: Students of 5th grade (10 to 11 years old)
Implementation dates: 1 February – 26 February 2021
Learning Scenario: https://tinyurl.com/4u4wkzmj

Abstract

This STE(A)M project was a collaborative activity between the 8th primary school of Nea Filadelfeia and the 2nd primary school of Nea Erythraia, Athens. The main idea of the project was the simulation of a seismograph using the BBC micro:bit controllers. The activity started in February 2021, was integrated into the cross-thematic national curriculum and implemented both online and in-class. It aimed to introduce students to basic skills of programming, computational and critical thinking, creativity and social, emotional intelligence. Additionally, through STEAM education students created links between the classroom training and the world around them and solved real-life problems. Furthermore, the use of advanced technologies in the classroom encouraged participation as it made learning fun and engaging process. 

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Be safe on the roads with STEM

Author: Stavroula Skiada

aplo STEM
Logo made by students

School: 8th Primary School of Nea Filadelfeia, Athens
Participants: students of 4th Grade (9 to 10 years old)
Implementation: 5 – 28 February 2020

Introduction:

This STEM activity is one of the various activities of the European eTwinning project “STEM On Board between Greece, Turkey, Lithuania and Republic of Moldova. The project started in September 2019 and the activity in February 2020. It aims to introduce students to computational thinking and teach them how to proceed from conceiving a concept to creating the right algorithm and planning the construction.

City Safety Activity in a few words:

Following discussion with the school faculty and the STEM teacher, the pupils decided to work on a project focused on Road safety and potential risk moving through the city. Therefore, after collecting information and carrying out a risk assessment regarding issues that citizens face concerning road safety during their everyday transportation, they concluded that one of the most serious problems is their own safety on their way to and from school. Consequently, they suggested an imaginative solution and constructed it using Lego WeDo2 parts: an aerial bridge for cars passing over a zebra crossing designed for students to use in order to reach the school. The last stage of the project was to program a small robot car that crosses the bridge.

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