Authors: GEORGIOS CHATZIGEORGIOU, biology teacher, 2nd General Lyceum of Oreokastro, Greece, ALEXANDROS TERZOPOULOS, Mentor
We would like to express our utmost gratitude to Ms Konstantina Sarantavga, Principal of the 2nd General Lyceum of Oraiokastro, for her continuous help and support in implementing the STEM activity in our school.
General overview of enzymes
Enzymes are proteins capable of catalysing biochemical reactions in living organisms. As biocatalysts, they accelerate such reactions by lowering the activation energy thereof. Enzymes possess a varying degree of specialisation with respect to the reactants (substrates) of the reactions they catalyse; for their action, the binding of the substrate to the region of the protein known as the active site is required (in a lock-and-key manner). The velocity of enzymatic reactions is affected by temperature, substrate and enzyme concentration, binding affinity, pH etc. The enzyme function may be halted or increased by the presence of various substances (e.g. inhibitors, activators, allosteric effectors). Inhibition may be reversible or non-reversible.
Relevance to school curriculum-Benefits of our approach
The subject and encompassed disciplines are part of the curriculum for the General Orientation Biology course mandatorily taught in the 2nd Class of the General Lyceum (5th year of secondary education) in Greece. Enzymes specifically are taught within the framework of Chapter 3 “Metabolism”, section “Enzyme-Biocatalysts”. The time allocated for this section is one class sessions for the theoretical part, and an additional 1-2 hours to complete the experimental section designed herein.
The teaching approach we followed replaces the typical “dry” theory-repetitive presentation of this subject in the class with inquiry-based learning, including a hands-on experience in the lab with a strong visual stimulus. In our first implementation, 15 students participated (most of them girls) who showed great interest in the way the STEM fields of Biology and Chemistry were explored with this activity.
This is an online activity which took place on 16th April 2020. My students and I had the opportunity to meet a real active Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and find out all about his occupation and ways of life in the spaceship. Knowing of our tremendous desire to meet him, Mr Steve Sherman invited me and my students to connect for the interview with Luca and it was one of those powerful opportunities not to be missed, especially because we were at home due to #COVID19. Of course, there were other students, mostly from the United States, who followed Luca’s interesting story.
Since my students decided to be the active participants of this interview, they’ve prepared the questions. I was doing this activity because some of my students aspire to be astronauts and they admire those people. The most interesting part of the interview was when Luca answered my students’ questions in Italian as my students learn Italian as a Second Foreign Language in secondary school.
OUR QUESTIONS FOR LUCAIn English:
Are you afraid you’ll run out of air?
How does it feel to be in space, in a rocket or on a planet?
Are there any living beings on any other planet?
Is there any possibility of another planet settling?
How did you decide to be an astronaut?
Would I have the honour of being taken for a ride in your spacecraft, because today on 16th April is my birthday?
What the astronauts eat?
What do you do all day?
Quali sono i Suoi progetti futuri? (What are your future plans?)
Tra due mesi finiremo la scuola secondaria di primo grado e dovremo scegliere la scuola superiore in base al nostro sistema scolastico in Serbia, Lei ha qualche suggerimento per noi su come scegliere la scuola giusta? (In two months we will finish the 9th grade of elementary school and we have to choose high school according to our school system in Serbia, do you have any suggestion for us on how to choose the right school?)
Hello, I am a primary school teacher in Turkey. I and my students participate in eTwinning projects that involve STEM education.
In the activity that I organised on 6 – 10 April 2020, we covered the issue of helping people around us or, in other words, solidarity. Our activity is based on the acquisition of life science skills. We asked the students to observe their home places. Students observed their families for a week. They listed the issues their families faced. Then we wanted to choose the most important of these issues.
Then, the subject of geometric bodies was studied in detail. We taught students concepts such as cube and square prism in math class. Then we asked the families to design a solution product. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students drew and later made their 3D designs at home. At this stage, they used waste materials at home.
This activity took place on 10 – 12 March 2020 and represented a correlation between one non-STEM school subject and few STEM school subjects. The lesson is realized by CLIL teaching method (Content and Language Integrated Learning) in correlation with computer science, physics and mathematics. Following the curriculum of Italian as the second foreign language taught in Serbian schools, with the help of Europeana resources, my students came up with data on who were the scientists with the highest IQ in Italy in the past.
In Italian and Serbian languages, 8th grade students presented the most intelligent Italians who ever lived: Galileo Galilei, Hypatia of Alexandria, which was then part of the Eastern Roman Empire and Leonardo da Vinci. In this way, we have marked 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, an extraordinary man and a great genius. The topic of the most famous Italians was familiar to my students since they were in the 7th grade.
First, students searched on the Internet and found data on these three people using the following Europeana resources: Galileo Galilei, Hypatia of Alexandria and Leonardo da Vinci. Some other web resources were used to find which Italian scientist had the highest IQ. Then they adapted the texts and photos to their Italian knowledge and translated them into Serbian using the online dictionary “Bing Translator”. After that, they recorded the video in Italian and Serbian, so that it would be very understandable to those who do not know Italian. The entire presentation Gli scienziati più intelligenti dell’Itali, as the final product with text, pictures, and videos, is available on Sway.
This activity took place during the week of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. 7th grade students were introduced to the sad story of the Jewish boy Petr Ginz and his painting “Moon Landscape” which he drew during World War II while living in the ghetto. Through Petr’s personal story students were introduced to the Lunar Landscape. After that, students studied further about the moon through activities which were taken from Scientix Resource Repository: “Lunar phases” and “Lunar landscape”.
The activity was divided into 4 lessons.
During the lesson number one, students were required to learn about Petr Genz’s biography. They read about his life and his passion for Science and Space and they had a chance to see his painting which he drew before his death in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Also, students were introduced to the special connection between the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and Petr Ginz. At 2003 Ilan took Petr Ginz’s painting “Moon Landscape” with him to the space mission. Unfortunately, he was killed in the crash of the Columbia shuttle.
Students were introduced to the first part of the activity through this website.
After that they got the following assignment:
Look at the painting “Moon Landscape” and answer the following questions:
A. What feelings do you have as you look at the painting?
B. If you could meet Peter Ginz today, what would you tell him about inventions, innovations and discoveries in space?