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.
In this period of international pandemic CODIV-19, the learning must continue beyond school by using online tools that are accessible to both students and teachers.
On 23 – 24 April 2020, I organized an online learning activity based on online inquiry learning that I put into practice with the 7th-grade students from I. A. Bassarabescu Secondary School, Ploiesti. I presented to my students a lesson plan that I created “Programmers and games” in order to promote the profession of a programmer.
In this online activity, my students discussed about what it means to be a programmer, what knowledge a game programmer should have.
For learning from home, I used the Graasp platform because it offers a multitude of useful tools in teaching-learning-assessment, and in the lesson plan I incorporated applications, web addresses, virtual labs, where the students could participate in discussions and leave their comments. They could also give mutual feedback, they could see the feedback received and they could connect directly to the Google Classroom and also our video conference using the Zoom application.
Why did I choose Graasp?
Because it has built-in: Google Classroom
Google Classroom is an educational application with an easy-to-use interface, which makes it a very useful digital tool that offers many advantages for online learning:
streaming time, a good organization in the structure of lessons and homework
effective communication both in class and out of class with students, but also with other teachers
ability to post announcements, questions, topics and learning materials for students but also for teachers.
Students had a little experience with GSuite, Go-Lab and GeoGebra but no experience of learning from home. To be able to communicate we used GSuite tools (email, tutorials on Google Classroom, Google Meet calls).
The Go-Lab Inquiry Learning Space used for the activity is a translated version of the French ILS “Changer de perspective” created by Valentin Roussel.
Thanks to the author, the ILS was useful to guide students in discovering basic geometry in a playful way: it aroused their curiosity about the features that add special effects to images. The questions helped students to reflect and recognize the main properties of parallel and perpendicular lines, angles, areas, by manipulating dynamic figures. The images included in the ILS were inspiring for students.
At the end of the translated version made for the IC21 school, I added an extra task for my students: they were asked to make and share their own images containing optical illusions or special effects, using the GeoGebra Geometry App.