Author: Daniele Brioschi

Start date: 27/03/2020

From our previous lesson, we learned the structure of our respiratory apparatus, and some of you told me “There is a bifurcation in our throat! Why doesn’t the food enter the trachea going into the lungs?”. It was a great question! In our throat there is a mechanism that prevents food going into the lungs and allows air going into the larynx. How does it work? Imagine being a biomedical engineer; what structure could YOU design? 

This activity started in this way, during an online lesson with my 12 years old students. I didn’t answer their questions but I proposed that they are biomedical engineers for a day and have to design their own artificial epiglottis. I created a simple model of the human throat using a shoebox.

I asked students to design a structure with recycled materials to be installed on the bifurcation model, above the esophagus and larynx. The structure should allow food (marbles in the model) to go into the esophagus and not enter the larynx. In addition, the structure has to allow air to flow freely through the respiratory tract.

During the lesson we followed the steps of IBSE method in this way:

  • 5 minutes to think individually and make the design in their own science notebook
  • 25 minutes to work in small groups, to share ideas with group mates, to choose just one idea and to present it on Jamboard
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Do we really need nuclear power plants?

Author: Mladen Sljivovic

Why do I like games in the classroom and why do I hate them at the same time? Well, to start with, games are fun, they keep your mind focused, and are something students will always remember. On the other hand, there are not so many STEM games that are just perfect for the class, and most of them rather focus on completely other things than STEM. What we mostly forget is that STEM lessons should have educational values on the first place, and at the same time be fun and motivating. So when I discovered Android game Nuclear INC 2 you can only guess how excited I was.

Screenshot from the game

For years I have been looking for a game that would be educational and motivate students to search for more answers. And this is why I like this game. In Nuclear INC 2 you take control over a nuclear power plant. You try to create as much energy as you can (to earn money) and at the same time avoiding nuclear meltdowns (for obvious reasons). And you do it by controlling uranium roads and cooling system. All parameters are here, core temperature, pressure, turbine temperature, radiation level… Too low temperature and you will not produce enough energy, too high and the pressure might be too big for the reactor.

Basically, this is what I would teach my students in a class, as nuclear power plants are one of the lessons in physics curriculum, only this time I can have my students play and search the answers themselves. All they would need is a little bit of guidance.

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Next-Lab math ILS with contents created by students

Inquiry Based Learning is a very effective pedagogical approach for STEM education: the Next-Lab project gives the opportunity to use digital resources, simulations and apps for creating online activities based on the IBL methodology. Inquiry-based learning activities can be implemented following several models, one of them is the “find the mistake” scenario: appropriate mistakes are presented to students in order to let them investigate to find a correct explanation.

Mathematics skills in lower secondary school are evaluated every year by INVALSI national tests. Questions from previous tests are often used to train students as exercises. Since INVALSI data are also used by schools to analyze typical errors or misconceptions in math learning processes, they can also be proposed as investigation subjects for a “find the mistake” inquiry.

To be included in a typical Next-Lab activity, these resources have to be made interactive, adding a “digital remake” in order to give students a feedback when used online and combined with other Next-Lab applications and tools.

GeoGebra is the most used tool for math active learning at Istituto Comprensivo 9 in Bologna. Students have been engaged in preparing interactive GeoGebra contents based on INVALSI multiple choice questions in order to “animate” correct and wrong answers about fractions.

To complete their task, they had to reflect about different representations of fractions: as parts of a figure, as number ratios, as distances on a units line and so on. In order to represent multiple answers, they could analyze the most common misconceptions and compare them with the correct representation of concepts. Different representing solutions could be chosen by students, depending on their own learning styles.

The best students’ works have been published online in the GeoGebra site, in order to be linked in the Next-Lab online activity afterwards.

This reflective and creative process went on with the support of special observers: a group of undergraduate math students of Bologna University, who visited our school for a training workshop included in their course of pedagogy and mathematical education. They were invited to interact with lower secondary students and give them support in explaining and implementing the representation of their own ideas.

The Next-Lab Inquiry Learning Space “Fractions: find the mistake” is going to be published on the Next-Lab site after completing the implementation with other resources and tools, and after following a testing phase with a different group of younger students who should give a feedback on its pedagogical effectiveness.

Open Lab: a place where you are the scientist

Open Lab, in Domus science centre, is a place to wear a lab coat, take safety goggles and handle the instruments that scientists use in their everyday life, from pipettes to centrifuges, agitators to scales, pipes and much more. We will run the following workshops in April 2018:
Biotechnological revolution: Students become biotechnologist for one day and participate in searching a solution for the treatment of atherosclerosis.
Investigate HIV vaccine: Try if the vaccine for AIDS in which scientists work in the IrsiCaixa Institute could be effective to protect the population from different continents.
How are medicines developed? To participate in the synthesis of a new drug under investigation for Parkinson’s disease.
Live dissections of heart and pig’s eye in the lab to show how these organs work. Wear your gloves, and look at the anatomy.
Artists of Prehistory: A workshop to become a prehistoric artist and know the materials, techniques and favorite themes of our ancestors.
ExploreDomus School: Science exploration activities that can be found in the kitchen, as make a hot dog mummy or discover the amazing cornstarch.

Visit us in http://es.mc2coruna.org/2012/12/laboratorio-abierto.html