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.

Doing Science in the Stone Age

Dates took place: Online, 26 -28 April 2021.

Learning Scenario Link: The detailed learning scenario with all the relative material has been posted on (Google drive)

Authors and creators: Aliki Maria Makri – Iraklis Karagiannis – Nektaria Giakmoglidou – Nikolaos Makris – Roxanthi Nikou – Theoni Dimopoulou. (Teachers of “Science Culture Educational Center -Aristotelio- STEAM Academy”).

Students ages: 10-12 (in groups of 4 members)

Teaching time: 14 hours

Online Platforms: Web browser – Microsoft teams or Webex teams – Google translate  

Online tools:


  • Personal computers – Laptops – Tablets – Smartphone- Projector – Camera
  • Textbooks – Resources provided by the teacher
  • Tools: Different stones, pieces of wood, bones, Natural cord,  
  • Drawing materials: Paperboard (1m*2m), Colors, Paints, Markers, Pencils, Rulers, Millimeter Paper A3 size, Syringe, Disposable gloves, Cylindrical sticks, Cord Scissors
  • Agriculture: Wheat ears, Wooden mortar, Transparent plastic container, Soil or cotton
  • Dioramas: Any relative constructive material provided by the art teacher    
  • Optional: Lego – Lego EV3 – Lego Spike prime    


The specific learning scenario aims at introducing students to science, scientists and scientific thinking by using a different teaching approach. It attempts to dispel myths and stereotypes pertaining to the above-mentioned fields and create the conditions so that science becomes a familiar framework for all students. On understanding that science contributes to all kinds of human activities, the students will intuitively realize that scientific thinking and science have contributed and still do to the evolution of humanity and really define the cultural context of each era. To achieve these specific targets, the scenario uses the Nature of Science approach (NOS) and focuses on knowledge about science which includes “understanding the nature of science as a human activity and the power and limitations of scientific knowledge” (OECD 2012 – European Commission 2017).

Picture is by the author – (Attribution CC-BY)

The students are introduced to a very old, different era and start to understand human thinking by tracing the first steps taken by mankind. They are asked to go back in time to that era and not only offer solutions to problems of the time but also to compare their solutions to those given by the people living back then.

Picture is by the author – (Attribution CC-BY)

By taking part in activities, in an interdisciplinary context, the students cooperate using imagination, come to decisions or construct objects as a team and each member contributes creatively to the decisions or creations with his personal active participation (Cooperative Learning). During the different steps of the scenario, the students are asked to observe, gather, combine and analyze data from conditions given to them (Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE)). Furthermore, they are asked to solve open problems and answer real-life questions by applying divergent thinking, and using their knowledge, experiences, critical thinking and creative abilities (Problem Based Learning). They work in teams interacting with each other as well as with the content and the new information given to them which they gradually start acquiring (Content and Language Integrated Learning – CLIL).They collect information by themselves and by analyzing factors are led to group conclusions and findings that are announced in the plenary of the class (Flipped Classroom). Dealing with situations which demand better communication, interaction and critical thinking, the students gradually build on their previous personal knowledge and become increasingly better at solving problems (Project Based Learning).They build up their knowledge through constructions using analytic-synthetic thinking (DIY Science) and can then convey what they learned to the others (Collective Learning). A positive consequence is that they develop strategies which contribute to their learning how to learn (Metacognition).

Picture is by the author – (Attribution CC-BY)

During these procedures, the students intuitively comprehend (through comparison with early humans) that science constitutes a human endeavor, based on acquiring knowledge, its’ consequences are inextricably linked to technology and define the level of a civilization. A very important fact is that the students, resort to deeper thinking, set up their own scientific community, learn how to talk about scientific subjects using arguments and thus develop scientific literacy (OECD 2015). They acquire 21st century skills and can recall and use them in decision-making on everyday situations so that they become responsible citizens and can make informed decisions for the future of mankind.

Learning outcomes:

  • Nature of Science (NOS): To dispel myths and stereotypes related to science, scientists and technology. To define science as human endeavour and process
  • Scientific Literacy: To explain phenomena scientifically. To recognize, offer and evaluate explanations for a range of natural and technological phenomena. To describe and appraise scientific investigations and propose ways of addressing questions. To analyze and evaluate data, claims and arguments in a variety of representations and draw appropriate scientific conclusions
  • Physics: To understand how weather conditions are formed and how they affect our living environment. To understand how friction brings about an increase in temperature 
  • History: To become familiar with a certain period of prehistory called “Stone age” and its subdivisions. To realize how archaeologists interpret findings so as to reach conclusions.  
  • Biology:  To compare similarities and differences between human and animals with regard to their anatomy. To explain the important role that nutrition played in the evolution of the human body and in thinking
  • Technology: To realize that observation and application of processes (basic elements of science) produce and develop results those meet people’s needs (Technology – Tools). To also realize that the basic algorithmic process is the primary step in the case of coding. (Robotics – EV3 or Spike Prime)
  • Ecology: To understand that biodiversity is predominant in nature, in fauna and flora that it depends on certain conditions. To perceive that evolution of any species, including humans, depends on natural selection 
  • Art History: To get to know that cave painting was the first attempt of humans to produce a symbolic language in their attempts to express and communicate their’ experiences. To also realize that the application of various techniques and colors indicates the evolution of thought itself
  • Art: To Imagine themselves as early humans painting landscapes. To design presentations and enrich them graphically. To use scale to construct dioramas about the stone age period.
  • Engineering:  To analyze the reasons why the wheel wasn’t invented during that period despite the great need for relocation (limitation of science). To design and construct shelters as well as to design the most suitable proper location and topographical view of a stone-age city. To make constructions using Lego bricks following instructions  
  • Natural Science: To become familiar with agricultural processes by extracting and planting seeds and growing edible products (flowers)
  • Mathematics: To apply analogies to manage plants use. To apply geometry and shape properties to construct shelters. To apply geometry and scales so as to design a city.  
Picture is by the author – (Attribution CC-BY)

Teaching outcomes:

Τhe learning scenario was designed and implemented by the teachers and students of “Science Culture Educational Center “Aristotelio” – STEAM Academy”.

The design process of this learning scenario, time-consuming though it may be, has given us, the teachers, the unique opportunity to constructively cooperate on all levels. By delving into different educational methodologies and through the discovery of new educational approaches, we have creatively enriched and further developed the scenario. Above all, however, it helped us significantly with the positive feedback of our teaching practice as a whole.

The learning scenario has been implemented on and evaluated by students of different age groups and in particular from 6 to 12 years old. The purpose of the implementation was not only to accurately determine the age group which would more likely benefit from the scenario but also to possibly enrich it with more specialized activities.

During the implementation, it was concluded that students of all ages liked working collaboratively and each one of them was able to contribute to the produced work using his personal experiences, knowledge, abilities and skills. Furthermore, all the students liked the interdisciplinary approach to the subject as they understood the interdependence of learning and acquiring knowledge with the help of different fields. This multilevel approach was what helped them intuitively comprehend that solving open everyday problems asks for analysis, data processing and critical thinking.

What is more, it has been observed that young students (6-8 years-old), had difficulty understanding time sequence in the distant past. To this age group, the past is one and uniform and that is why they are not able to understand time sequence. This age group, together with the 8-10 year-olds, had trouble dealing with the nature of science and coming up with satisfactory answers to these specific issues. Some of the activities (shelter and settlement construction) were found to be quite demanding for them.

On the other hand, the 10-12 age groups managed to respond really well to all the demands of the scenario and achieved extremely high rates in solving the open problems. An equally important fact is that they worked collaboratively and developed the skills of scientific analysis, data processing as well as scientific argumentation, which have rendered them scientifically literate and have offered them the abilities needed to evolve into responsible citizens.

During 26 – 28 April 2021 the scenario implemented online with 10 – 12 years old students. Given the circumstances the original learning scenario had to be adapted as the activities related to constructions and the activity of robotics could not be carried out online by the students. However, the adaptation of the learning scenario did not make it difficult for the students to achieve the learning outcomes as the other activities were largely enriched with differentiated material which can be presented online.