Author: Stella Magid-Podolsky, STEM teacher and educator in Israel
The activity took place between 20 February – 26 April 2020
The activity that I want to describe in this blog is called: “The advantages and disadvantages of Nuclear Energy: The Chernobyl disaster-Never again!”. This is a long term activity which took place from the end of February till the 26th of April (the date when the Chernobyl disaster had occurred 34 years ago).
I did this activity with my 8th grade students during STEM lessons when my students began to learn the topic of alternative sources of Energy. The activity was divided into two parts. The first part of the activity took place at the school (that was before the Covid-19 outbreak). The second part of the activity began during the quarantine period, so it was held in the form of digital remote learning.
During the first part of the activity, 29 students were divided into 7 groups. Each group got an assignment to pick one alternative source for Electrical energy, conduct an inquiry about their chosen source and present their outcomes to their peers in the class. Most of the students picked Nuclear Energy and when I noticed that this topic interested many students and that many of them watched the HBO television miniseries “Chernobyl”, I decided to continue with the activity, focusing on the Chernobyl disaster.
I believe in the theory that if the teacher is interested in a specific topic, he or she will be more motivated to teach this topic in an interesting way and the process will also increase students’ interest and motivation for this topic.
During the pandemic, most of the schools in the whole world were closed. That meant most of the school communities had to take difficult and snap decisions. One of them is moving everything to virtual platforms, nearly overnight.
I am proud of my school‘s community and want to share our great experience and how we managed to survive this transition. In short, teachers and students are proud of our distance learning methods. After receiving the results of questionnaires, we noticed that nearly 75% of 368 students‘ parents evaluated us very positively too.
Before we start analyzing STEAM education in times of remote learning, I would love to introduce the context first. Kaunas Jesuit Gymnasium is a private school, having about 800 students with ages ranging from 10 to 19 years old. Nearly 1/3 of students are from large families, having more than 3 children. You can read more about the school here: Kaunas Jesuit High School.
The 12th of March was our last day at school… Well, at least at the school we were used to. Since the 13th of March, the lessons of final years’ students were moved to virtual classrooms. From the 18th of March, all the students were learning from home, following our standard timetable. Even though the timetable was standard, the classrooms were not. That‘s how the timetable of our school looked like: