Loading...

Follow Scientix Blog | The Community For Science Educa.. on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

We are no longer alone, we are now one in Europe. Our classes collaborate with students from other countries, while teachers organize activities with colleagues from diverse nations using educational platforms designed for sharing, such as eTwinning and Scientix.

eTwinning is a project of the European Commission that aims to encourage schools to create collaborations based on the use of new technologies, providing online tools and support services for the creation of e-learning activities. Moreover, the twinning of foreign schools promotes other languages, acquiring knowledge of other cultures and traditions and  developing communication skills.

One of the possible new languages to consider is coding. This is why the etwinning group coding@schools supports teachers and students to become involved in coding activities. Thanks to the playful approach, users are transformed from passive subjects who receive information, to active ones who can solve problems, make decisions and perform tasks.

The aim of coding@schools feature is to improve the computational thinking, a transversal skill that allows us to conceive and express rigorous procedures that lead to the solution of a problem or the realization of an idea. It can be applied to any discipline even without specific tools, but requires reflection and awareness.

Teachers of all levels can participate in the coding@schools initiative, from kindergarten to secondary school. Experiences are shared within the virtual platform. This can improve active participation and empower teaching skills. It helps forging new ties and bringing students closer to STEM, because coding at schools is for everyone, just as education is for everyone.

Why join?

In my opinion, one of the fundamental characteristics of the work on the eTwinning platform is the interdisciplinary approach to teaching. This helps you and your students to develop creativity and problem solving, to consolidate the decision-making process. Working by projects also offers the possibility of promoting the formation of students’ personalities, while the teacher takes on a more of a Socratic role: to moderate the work of the learners who build their knowledge with practical experience.

We are making the number of exchanges between students and teachers grow. Our experience is showing how the new friendships and the school networks undoubtedly develop in the direction of the construction of European civilization for a plural and pluralist future.

Welcome aboard!

Author: Stefania Altieri, Scientix Ambassador

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

During RosaDigitale week – which begins on the 8th of March – students and teachers reflect on the history of women who have changed the world.

The RosaDigitale National Movement fights for equal opportunities in the field of information technology. In Europe, thousands of events, called petals, are organized with the goal of bringing young people and adults closer to programming, coding and robotics.

The conquest is information is the motto to battle against the gender stereotypes. With  commitment, determination and correct information, we can move past prejudices.

In the scientific field, women have always been unjustly underrepresented, despite all the contributions that have been made to help make the world become more innovative and competitive.

Take for example Katherine Johnson, a mathematician at NASA who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions.

Or to go back in time, let’s remember Ada Lovelace, the daughter of British poet Lord Byron, who was a Victorian mathematician. She worked with Charles Babbage on his calculating machines – he called her the “enchantress of numbers”. At the time few women studied science or maths, and she is widely considered the founder of computing science and the world’s first computer programmer.

Nowadays, in the business world, the demand for digital skills outweighs the opportunities that are available.  We need an army of students in the month of March, to carry on the powerful message that RosaDigitale hopes to send to fight against gender stereotypes.

The school can play a key role in this process because it involves everyone.  Promoting a variety of catchy tools that allow students’ creativity to develop. Short-term results are the development of problem solving and social skills in collaboration with classmates. In the long term perspective, the positive effects are linked to the development of computational thinking and abilities related to programming.

Many schools have accepted the challenge through an innovative approach based on the involvement of students and families, connected in a community of good practices against disparities and inequalities. The innovation trend is proven by observing what happens in the classrooms.  These initiatives are only a preview for a new way of facing the challenge to complexity.

Adding other petals to the map of events (throughout the month of March) means celebrating the women who have contributed to build our future, but also the young and the older girls who will become the future of change.

Author: Stefania Altieri, Scientix Ambassador

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The European Geosciences Union’s (EGU) Committee on Education has been organizing the Geosciences Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshops since 2003. Selected top-level scientists working in the Earth sciences offer invited teachers talks centered on a different theme every year. This year, the workshop was organised between the 8-10 of April in Vienna. The topic this year was “Plate Tectonics and the Earth’s Structure Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”. GIFT is an integral part of the EGU’s General Assembly. The main objective of the GIFT workshops is to spread first-hand scientific information to science teachers of primary and secondary schools, significantly shortening the time between discovery and textbook, and to provide the teachers with material that can be directly transported to the classroom. The programme this year unofficially started with a tour of the Natural History Museum Vienna, guided by Herbert Summesberger and Mathias Harzhauser. This year, 80 teachers took part from all around the world.

At the Natural History Museum in Vienna, we had the opportunity to see the Venus of Willendorf – the 29,500 year-old and only eleven centimeter tall statue, found in the Wachau in Lower Austria in 1908. She has been a fertility goddess, but what is certain is that she is a representative of female figures that survived the Paleolithic Period.

In the museum I also had the opportunity to see a vast collection of meteorites, explore some of the most exotic stones, rocks and gems including crystals, quartz, and many precious and semi-precious stones. In the meteorite hall there are over 1,100 meteorites, including Martian meteorites, lunar rocks and lunar meteorites.

There were large skeletons of the dinosaurs. The visit of the Natural History Museum of Vienna was astonishing. There is so much science and history, that once is not enough to see all this in detail.

On the 8th of April, the GIFT workshop officially started with a welcome speech from the EGU President, Jonathan Bamber from Bristol University in the UK and by EGU Vice-President Alberto Montanari, from the University of Bologna, Italy. Chris King, Chair of the Committee on Education also gave a speech. After that there were very interesting and useful lectures from top scientists. Some of the topics were the following: tectonic plates, optical instruments such as instrument telemeter, seismographs, GPS, etc.
was also impressed by the explanation of the convection of substances in a solid state beneath the Earth’s crust. These are all very interesting for my teaching.

The explanation of “The origin of earthquakes in and around stable plates” from Christophe Vigny, Ecole Normale Supérieure/CNRS, Paris, France was a brilliant lecture. Similarly to the lecture on ENVRIplus e-learning platform Giuliana D’Addezio and Marina Longhitani, INGV, Rome, Italy. This was a real positive discovery for me!

There were many other useful lectures such as “Use of satellite data (Earth observation and navigation) for Plate Tectonics applications” by Francesco Sarti, ESA, Frascati, Italy or “Some shapes of Plate Tectonics to come” byNicolas Coltice, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France and “Bridging the rift – Earthquake design of the Rion-Antirrion bridge” by Akis Panagis, Structural Department of Rion Antirrion Bridge, Patras, Greece and so on.

Within the GIFT workshop I participated in a poster presentation named “HUNTING THE STARS TO PROTECT THE DARK SKY”. The presentation was about the work of students in Orde Chopela High School in Prilep who perform an activity within the international educational project “Globe at Night” (GaN) for 11 years in succession under my supervision. With this project they have opportunity to get to know light pollution and the relatively simple way of measuring it.

GaN is part of the GLOBE project which is a worldwide scientific and educational project, which coordinates the work of students, teachers and scientists to study and understand the global environment. The students estimate light pollution by measuring the magnitude of the stars from the constellations Orion, Leo or some other constellations and additionally using the SQM to map a city light pollution at different locations to identify dark sky oases and even measure changes over time. We were the first school from North Macedonia which took part in GaN. It is very useful for us because we have used materials for science competitions (we have great results), the students find it a very interesting activity, they become citizen-scientists and as a result, it brings them closer to science. This activity definitely increases the level of conscience, IT skills, language skills of our students, they learn actively, make connections between their learning with real life problems, raises their critical thinking etc. The list of exhibitors can be found here.

You can find all the presentations and more information on the EGU General Assembly 2019 GIFT workshop and the past GIFT following this link.

The next GIFT workshop will held from 3-5 May 2020 in Vienna and the topic will be Hidrology in the past, today and in the future. I am very much looking forward to learn about this topic as well!

Author: Karolina Damjanoska, Scientix Ambassador

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Education systems in most European countries face the same challenge: how to raise the level of scientific literacy, including reasoning in STEM subjects. In addition, students’ rhetorical skills – argumentation, oral presentation – are insufficient, which leads to inaccurate use of language and susceptibility to ‘fake news’.

The EU funded project ODYSSEY (Oxford Debates for Youths in Science Education) seeks to develop 13 to 19-year-olds argumentation skills and to increase interest in STEM subjects by organising debate competitions on science topics.

Rhetoric education supports critical thinking and the ability to use various sources of knowledge, with an emphasis on verifying their credibility. It also supports civic education, and contributes to enhancing tolerance and democratic values.

It is very important to open students’ minds to STEM topics, such as biotechnology, through communication and argumentation. This activity focused on encouraging students to choose STEM careers and increasing interest in Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

  • There are many benefits of using debates for STEM lessons. Find some of them below:
  • Debates can help students practice and demonstrate their critical thinking skills
  • Debates can help students learn to discuss complicated topics calmly, clearly, and competently
  • Debates can help students cultivate their persuasion skills
  • Debates help deepen students’ understanding of topics when they “actively” listen to opposing views
  • Debates help sharpen communication skills – students can learn to say more with fewer words
  • Debates can be mind-opening – “actively” listening to opposing opinions can help students think outside the box – they can offer a broader range of alternatives, excite imagination, and ignite creativity
  • Debates help remind students that while many aspects of life are about competition, they are also about compromise and cooperation
  • Debate teams can offer a sense of comradeship, demonstrating the value of teamwork
  • To those with a truly open-mind, debates can broaden and deepen reasoning and communicating skills. They can enhance the ability to think and communicate clearly and quickly
Preparation for debate and research

On Wednesday 10 April in Evangeliki Model High School of Smyrna in Athens (Greece), 27 students aged 16-17 joined in to pilot the activity of ODYSSEY. The topic of the science debate in my schools was ‘The sustainability of human societies based on biotechnology’.

During the preparation phase, students took the role of scientists and using the method of inquiry, they investigated the advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology in the fields of medicine, agriculture and environmental innovation. In particular, they prepared a timeline for basic discoveries in the field of biotechnology. Through their investigation of statistical reports and data resources, they made a list of possible careers in biotechnology.

In order to support students’ learning process in the field biotechnology, we used the Scientix repository, which contains many resources and guides for STEM teachers. Any science teacher can find material for all ages and science subjects and what is more, all of it can be used for free to enriched their methodologies. We collected a few below:

Thinking Science

The ‘Thinking Science’ resources are designed to provoke thinking and discussion so as to consolidate and extend core curriculum knowledge and understanding. The resources were developed for science teachers in a collaborative project involving the Department of Philosophy (Public Engagement) and the School of Education at the University of Bristol, UK, and over 50 teachers and trainee teachers in schools in Bristol.

Teaching Guide: The biotechnology resolution

This document provides information on the multimedia resources (videos, games, virtual experiments) available for this module on the Xplore Health site. For each tool, you will find teaching guidelines and an explanation of how to use them in class .

Educators’ guide on biotechnology resolution (background information)

This guide provides background information on the current techniques used in biotechnology as well as information on the ethical, legal and social aspects associated with biotechnology.

Commnet (phase 2) Where does food come from

A Teachers’ guide to food production, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnology.

Biotechnology activity

An activity focusing on the current and future uses of biotechnology. It is developed for 8 to 11 year olds.

Coreflect Biotechnology learning environment teachers guide

In this activity, students work collaboratively in a guided inquiry approach to provide an evidence-based answer to the question: “Would you allow the cultivation of GM plants in your country?” based on the results of a risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis.

The implementation of the activity

During the implementation phase of the activity, students were divided into two groups to present their scientific facts and their thesis.

  • Does biotechnology improve medical methods to protect human health or does it raise risks to human health itself?
  • Does developing the industry of biotechnology helps to keep the environment safe, as it’s expected that in the next few decades we will find new ways to enhance food yield, grow crops in some of the most remote areas of the planet and attune vital crops for hardiness.

The two teams exchanged viewpoints, then their peers evaluated their performance based on use of scientific facts/statistics, respect towards the other team, understanding and explaining the topic, the way of presenting the information and the level of rebuttal. Students enjoyed the activity very much and shared positive feedback.

Some results
  • Students developed their critical thinking skills while collecting and assessing scientific data
  • Students studied the use of biotechnology in our lives, but they also provided proposals for protecting our environment
  • Students could try out roles as scientists, reporters and science communicators
  • Students prepared career plans in the field of biotechnology

Author: Panagiota Argyri, Scientix Ambassador

Main image by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“It is COOL to be STEM 2” is a festival organized by Creative Center Karposh (KCK) second year in a row within the international initiative STEM Discovery Week 2019. This year’s festival was dedicated to the 150 year anniversary of the creation of the Periodic Table of the Elements by Mendeleev. For that purpose, various interdisciplinary Chemistry workshops were organized.

The festival involved different workshops, experiments, visits to institutions and interviews with professionals. It included students from all 10 schools of the municipality of Karposh. Students had the opportunity to experience science in a different manner; through various activities acting scientists who implement experiments from different areas of science. The activities were organized over the course of three days.

Day 1: Chemistry games in the classroom

During this workshop, 20 ninth grade students, from 10 primary schools in Karposh, taught Chemistry in an entertaining way. Ionic poker, chemical domino and ionic partner were only part of the games that were organized under the mentorship of prof. Dr. Marina Stojanovska from the Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje. This has shown that learning Chemistry through games is a great way to maintain students’ attention. Read more on this topic here.

Day 2: Bakery problem

During this workshop, 20 eighth graders from the elementary school “Jan Amos Komenski” and “Vlado Tasevski” solved chemical problems in the bakery. The students had the role of laboratory technicians and using the knowledge acquired during Chemistry lessons were able to solve real life problems. They were supposed to propose simple tests that will help them make a distinction between the white substances used in the bakery. Studying Chemistry by solving real life problems allows students to easily understand how to use their knowledge, and at the same time it motivates them to study the Natural Sciences. This activity is a great example that shows how Chemistry knowledge can be applied to solving real life situations. Furthermore, the activity was first developed for the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ever that was funded and carried out entirely by Scientix. Check out further details here.

Day 3: Chemistry with mushrooms

On the final day, 20 students visited the Mycological Laboratory and the Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje. They explored the world of mushrooms. Through a series of experiments they proved the presence of chemical compounds in mushrooms and by observing them on the microscope under the mentorship of Prof. Dr. Metodija Najoski and Prof. Dr. Katerina Rusevski. They were able to solve the mystery as to “Why mushrooms aren’t plants.”  This activity proved to be lots of fun and educational. Read more here.

All photos were taken by the author.

Author: Aleksandra Blazhevska, Scientix Ambassador for Republic of North Macedonia

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“It is COOL to be STEM 2” is a festival organized by Creative Center Karposh (KCK) second year in a row within the international initiative STEM Discovery Week 2019. This year’s festival was dedicated to the 150 year anniversary of the creation of the Periodic Table of the Elements by Mendeleev. For that purpose, various interdisciplinary Chemistry workshops were organized.

The festival involved different workshops, experiments, visits to institutions and interviews with professionals. It included students from all 10 schools of the municipality of Karposh. Students had the opportunity to experience science in a different manner; through various activities acting scientists who implement experiments from different areas of science. The activities were organized over the course of three days.

Day 1: Chemistry games in the classroom

During this workshop, 20 ninth grade students, from 10 primary schools in Karposh, taught Chemistry in an entertaining way. Ionic poker, chemical domino and ionic partner were only part of the games that were organized under the mentorship of prof. Dr. Marina Stojanovska from the Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje. This has shown that learning Chemistry through games is a great way to maintain students’ attention. Read more on this topic here.

Day 2: Bakery problem

During this workshop, 20 eighth graders from the elementary school “Jan Amos Komenski” and “Vlado Tasevski” solved chemical problems in the bakery. The students had the role of laboratory technicians and using the knowledge acquired during Chemistry lessons were able to solve real life problems. They were supposed to propose simple tests that will help them make a distinction between the white substances used in the bakery. Studying Chemistry by solving real life problems allows students to easily understand how to use their knowledge, and at the same time it motivates them to study the Natural Sciences. This activity is a great example that shows how Chemistry knowledge can be applied to solving real life situations. Furthermore, the activity was first developed for the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ever that was funded and carried out entirely by Scientix. Check out further details here.

Day 3: Chemistry with mushrooms

On the final day, 20 students visited the Mycological Laboratory and the Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje. They explored the world of mushrooms. Through a series of experiments they proved the presence of chemical compounds in mushrooms and by observing them on the microscope under the mentorship of Prof. Dr. Metodija Najoski and Prof. Dr. Katerina Rusevski. They were able to solve the mystery as to “Why mushrooms aren’t plants.”  This activity proved to be lots of fun and educational. Read more here.

All photos were taken by the author.

Author: Aleksandra Blazhevska, Scientix Ambassador for Republic of North Macedonia

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sharing Inspiration 2019 – The Power of Realisation was the conference organised from 28th to 31st of March by an educator network called T3 Europe (T-cubed) in collaboration with the European Commission (DG EAC, DG Connect), European Schoolnet, Scientix, SEMI Europe, SME United, Digital Europe, WKO, ZVEI, ITI, MNU, Transport Malta, Saxon State Ministry of Education, Texas Instruments and others. T³ Europe is an association of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers that serves as an umbrella body for 12 country organizations to provide quality professional development, classroom-proven content and integrated state-of-the-art classroom pedagogy.

The primary aim of the conference was to bring educators and policy makers together in order to share best practices around Europe regarding STEM education aligned with the curriculum. The organisers emphasized the double meaning of the conference theme which was “Sharing Inspiration – The Power of Realisation”. They explained that “to realize” was used in the sense of “to understand” and also of “to make something concretely happen”, reflecting pedagogical efforts around “Coding” and “Making”.

On 28th of March, part of our Scientix team had an opportunity to attend the first day of the conference which was specifically dedicated to policy makers, industry stakeholders and key decision makers. The event kicked off with a warm welcome by Jiři Buriánek, Secretary General of European Committee of the Regions who highlighted that in today’s competitive world Europe should invest more in STEM Education. Afterwards, Dr Insa Thiele-Eich took us for “A journey to the Stars” with her inspiring story on becoming the first German female astronaut.

“We want children to think: STEM!”

Marie-Paul Buyse, KU Leuven

The program followed with two “Classroom Implementation” sessions during which moderators and experts were discussing innovative solutions for adjusting educational systems to ongoing challenges. We got insights from researchers, policy makers, educators and industry representatives. Marie-Paule Buyse shared the results of the STEM@School research by KU Leuven and talked about the online tool they developed. Robert Cabane, the former General Math Inspector of the Ministry of Education in France, presented the reform of French national curricula which aims to challenge the traditional educational system. The reform started in 2012 and will continue until 2022. Adina Nistor, Project Officer in European Schoolnet, shared a great example from BLOOM project on how to implement a new topic, such as bioeconomy, in the classroom.

“80% of the technology that we use in 10 years is not invented yet.”

Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet

After a fruitful exchange of good practices, we moved to the issue of placing STEM teaching in the wider context. During this session, we had an opportunity to hear from policy makers and industry representatives about their roles in supporting STEM education. Dr László Csák, expert of the rapporteur in the Committee of the Regions, stated that local politicians are aware that they need to invest more in STEM in order to see the regional development. A strong focus was also put on developing digital competencies by highlighting the importance of the EU programmes such as Horizon2020.

The first day of the conference ended with summarizing the key lessons learnt from each session in a unique way – moderators shared the conclusion of their sessions not only with the participants of the conference but also on social media, reaching out to the public.

Day 2 to 4 of Sharing Inspiration 2019 were designed for educators and teacher trainers who attended various workshops and presentations on STEM education. In addition to this, the organisers prepared an amazing networking event which was a great opportunity for teachers, organisations and industry to learn more about each other’s initiatives, current projects and future plans. We enjoyed presenting Scientix and other STEM projects run by European Schoolnet, as well as discovering interesting STEM initiatives all around the world. We saw great examples of creative solutions used in the classroom to make students more interested and involved in studying STEM subjects.

Day 2 to 4 of Sharing Inspiration 2019 were designed for educators and teacher trainers who attended various workshops and presentations on STEM education. In addition to this, the organisers prepared an amazing networking event which was a great opportunity for teachers, organisations and industry to learn more about each other’s initiatives, current projects and future plans. We enjoyed presenting Scientix and other STEM projects run by European Schoolnet, as well as discovering interesting STEM initiatives all around the world. We saw great examples of creative solutions used in the classroom to make students more interested and involved in studying STEM subjects.

“For the last 12 years, STEM is the priority for most of the Ministries of Education”

Dr. Àgueda Gras-Velázquez, Science Programme Manager, European Schoolnet

Attending events like this one is always an inspiring experience which gives us a big motivation boost. Seeing dedicated educators from different parts of the world, discovering innovative education approaches and being a part of global discussion remind us what we, as European Schoolnet, strive for – transforming education in Europe.

Authors: Antonija Grizelj, Ola Miklasińska

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Neuroscience has become an interdisciplinary field with the recent advances in computers, and brain imaging and intervention instruments. Considered a medical field in the past, today Neuroscience is a blooming field that also inspires artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and has implications in numerous areas; from marketing to neuroprosthetics, and even the video gaming industry. To focus on this topic, we took the opportunity to interview Marjana Brkic, a neuroscientist as well as the representative of the Scientix National Contact Point of Serbia, the Centre for the Promotion of Science.

Why is Neuroscience important?

First, neurological diseases are a great burden to society. Even if we managed to cure cancer and heart disease in a person, they are still at risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that we know little about. Brain diseases are still a dark zone. We are not fully aware of the processes leading to these ailments and we do not have yet developed the means to cure them fully. We have to start putting more effort in this direction worldwide. This is where students come in: it is important to make them understand early in their school life why Neuroscience is important, and raise awareness about it. Alzheimer’s disease is ranked second among diseases that are a burden to Europe. Patients suffering from such conditions need continuous care that can last for up to 10 or even 20 years. A second point is identification: it is hard to categorize neurological diseases because these overlap in the profile of patients. We also therefore need neuroscience to improve our understanding and diagnostics of these conditions. A third important aspect is that neuroscience is multi-disciplinary. Doctors, biologists, molecular biologists, engineers, psychologists, computational neuroscientists and data/computer scientists, as well as physicists and philosophers; they all have a role in this field. The brain is very complex: hundred billions of neurons, with each forming thousands of connections with each other, makes up for a very complicated network. We need all these experts on board to figure out what is behind these electrical functions and processes of the brain, but also to get the most out of this knowledge.

You mentioned that neuroscience is multi-disciplinary. I think this is a very important point. Can you tell us about recently emerging careers that stem from this multi-disciplinarity?

Neuroscience is not all about mental health of course; the field has implications for many other fields, even the entertainment market. Computer scientists can use computer modelling to predict how a set of neurons changes its reaction after manipulating specific factors. As a mechanical engineer, one can develop brain-computer interfaces (BCI). For instance, prosthetic limbs controlled by the brain. Cars can also get information from the brain through BCI. This may be implemented in the future to test car/machine operating skills, by measuring how well a person is focused on the road/task ahead. BCI is also used in the gaming industry. For instance, there is an EEG headset game of Star Wars, with which you can shoot Stormtroopers or move objects by concentrating on the target. Instruments that measure brain signals will get more and more precise, expanding consumer use more and more, in gaming as well as in prosthetics and computers.

Finally in philosophy, new ethical questions emerge due to neuroscience research, for which neuroscientists and philosophers work together to think about the answers to them. Furthermore, psychologists come in to intervene in the psychosocial repercussions of neural diseases.

To rehabilitate the person with a brain disease, or retrain cognitive skills?

Yes, they also raise awareness in the patients’ families, and train them on how to approach the patient. There is a lot of taboo and stigma related to brain diseases. Therefore they try to bridge the gap between patients and the society.

Can you tell us about your background?

It is challenging to pinpoint the exact time when the Alzheimer’s disease actually starts. The hallmark symptoms start developing earlier than when the disease fully manifests itself. We have investigated the role of amyloid oligomers in Alzheimer’s disease, and we have found that in the presence of amyloid oligomers, brain barrier opens and inflammation is triggered, which contributes to the development of the disease. In short, we looked at molecular mechanisms that are in the basis of this disease (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27212900).

Can you give us some examples of neuroscientists working in the industry?

Many neuroscientists become clinical researchers in medical/pharmaceutical companies. I also know some enterprises: a start-up called “Backyard Brains”, which develops affordable, easy to use tools for teaching Neuroscience in the classroom, but also to help anyone run their own experiments using affordable equipment. They provide schematics for free, and the code base is open to all. They want kids to better understand Neuroscience. One example from their experiment: one person puts an electrode on their muscle, and the second person puts an electrode on their hand muscle. The second person’s brain impulse produces a twitch in the first person’s muscle. This experiment is called “how you can take away one’s free will”. You get to understand that the nerve impulse is electricity; it can be digitalized, and turned into a muscle-contracting signal. People find Neuroscience complicated, but examples such as this help making it clearer. Some other neuroscientists work on developing robotic arms, or on the making of self-driving cars.

We recently started a project with artists and engineers. The musician will get feedback from the listeners’ brain signals while performing. The feedback will tell her whether the music is producing interest. Based on this info, the musician will move on to different tunes and styles, in an improvised fashion.

Finally, there are professional advocates for Neuroscience. University staff are also involved in the promotion of Neuroscience through initiatives such as the Brain Awareness Week (https://www.dana.org/BAW/), a worldwide initiative taking place in March and trying to raise awareness through public lectures, discussions, movie screenings, etc. It would be more impactful if schools were also involved. If teachers can be informed through Scientix that there is a brain awareness week going on, that can help them learn more about the topic.

How is the job market for Neuroscientists?

With the initiative of ex-US President Obama and the European Commission (EC), awareness and demand increased in the job market. The EC invested almost 2 billion Euros in brain research. Movies also help raising awareness. For instance there is a movie about Alzheimer’s disease called “Still Alice”, and also “Transcendence”.

Author: Antoine Selim Bilgin

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

What are the benefits of coding for students?

There are multiple reasons as to why students must familiarize themselves with coding and ICT. Coding fuels the creative potential of students and improves their observation skills. Through coding, they are exposed to a logical way of thinking, and through their mistakes, they discover new ways of solving a problem. Additionally, coding entails several different activities and disciplines such as robotics, computational thinking and visual programming. This means that there are many ways to involve students with varying interests and of all levels. Encouraging students to explore and discover their full potential and creativity will result in them becoming more confident and even entrepreneurial. Coding will enable them to understand the ‘making and building’ process better, and eventually turn their ideas into reality with several initiatives around the world investing on how to create a new generation of STEMpreneurs.

Coding in STEM education

How is coding linked to all STEM disciplines? We use programming in order to tell a computer what to do, but understanding computer science would not be possible without science, technology, engineering and math. There are many reasons as to why STEM programs increasingly use more programming courses in their curriculum. Python is needed in order to understand data science and algorithms, coding is getting more and more relevant in life and natural sciences and without programming skills there would be no pioneers in engineering and robotics.

Training materials that will help you integrate coding in your class

Teachers in every country, regardless of the subject they teach or their experience with programming, are encouraged to incorporate coding in their lessons. They can either design and implement their own activities, or visit the EU Code Week website and download the training materials that experts from all over Europe have created. Those lesson plans are free, and they can be further adapted to the needs or level of each class. Teachers who wish to gradually introduce their students to the various coding concepts, can try out activities that do not require Internet connection or even electronic devices with the training module Unplugged Coding.

Science teachers are welcome to explore the Learning Bit about Robotics and Tinkering and introduce their students to microelectronics and robotics. In addition, students should be taught that very much like the actual coding process, their ability to analyse and think critically should be structured in a way that breaks down bigger problems into smaller parts, a process that is called decomposition. Those principles can be applied in every STEM subject and are fully unveiled in the training module about Computational Thinking. Teachers who wish to introduce their students to an easy programming language may familiarize themselves with visual programming and try out the  Introduction to Scratch training module.

An opportunity for all teachers to innovate and experiment

Apart from students who will be experimenting with coding, the creativity of teachers is also challenged as they are called to design lesson plans and activities that could combine physics, programming, history and storytelling! Teachers of various subjects can inspire and encourage their students to get involved with programming, triggering an interest for STEM subjects that are considered to be the most demanding. Sounds ambitious or impossible? Coding has many similarities with storytelling as both follow a logical sequence of events or actions and rely on developments. Teachers can consult the training module Creating Educational Games with Scratch and create their own multidisciplinary projects. Why not design a game on Scratch where the characters are inspired from the most important scientific figures or polymaths in history, and discuss Newton’s Laws, mathematical principles and philosophical dilemmas? Scratch allows learners to customise their characters (sprites) but also their game projects, incorporating a variety of content that can range from mathematical operations to text, the possibilities are truly unlimited. At the same time, students are being introduced to visual coding which offers the opportunity to learn and create in a collaborative, fun and engaging way. No matter what the chosen coding activity will be, it will surely allow students to experiment and express their own unique ideas, embrace innovation and improve.

Author: Eleni Myrtsioti, European Schoolnet

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Science centers are wonderful places for informal learning.  Visitors can see flashy, colorful experiments and interact with captivating devices. It is a great way to awaken and keep the natural interest in Science of every student. So what can be better than visiting one? Building one for yourself of course!

In my school – the Alternative High School of Economics in Budapest (http://akg.hu) – students of the 10th grade worked for five days in designing and building a science center for the pupils at the 1st-5th grades. For four days there were no regular classes, all activities were organized around this goal and on the fifth day our Science Center opened with great success. The schedule of the week was the following:

Day 1

Opening
Setting the theme and the frame of the work.

Advice from a pro
A popular science communicator Laszlo Zsiros (http://szertar.com) gave advice to the students in 60 minutes abut the key to successfully show science concepts, experiments and phenomena to others.

Video championship
Each student had to find a small (2-5 min.) science-related video on YouTube, preferably showing an experiment or phenomenon. They formed pairs and showed the videos to each other, then agreed on which was the more interesting one. After three rounds the students recorded how many times did they “win”.

Visit to a Science Center
In the afternoon of the day we visited a Science Center in Budapest (http://csopa.hu). The students had to write a report of one exhibit they found especially interesting or captivating.

Day 2

Job application
The 13 students who were the most successful at the video championship were taken to separate room without their phones/laptops and watched Science videos while the other students filled out job application forms for the building of the Science Center. The question were about their favorite topics in Science, what are their strengths (electronics, design, graphics, writing, etc.), what role would they prefer in a team and what they expect of the following days. Once they had finished, the team leaders in the separate room got the anonymous applications and had to select the ones they would like to work with. This way they did not know who the exact person is, they were choosing only the role they wanted to have in the team.

Forming the teams
Once the leaders had chosen their teammates the newly formed teams started their discussions about what and how they would like to make. They also had some discussions about what could be done.

Plans and budget
By the and of the day each team had to give to the teachers a detailed plan of what they wish to do and also a budget for it which could not exceed 10,000 HUF (around 30€).

Days 3 and 4

Building
On these two days the teams worked on their own with supervision and help if needed from the teachers.

Day 5

Opening of the Science Center
Our own Science Center was opened at 10 AM and was open until 2 PM. The younger students visited in groups and were given guided tours.

Here is what the 13 groups made:

Augmented reality relief map

This is something they found almost ready on the internet and is probably quite well-known. Using a projector and a Kinect sensor, a box of sand can be turned into an amazing colorful map. The details can be found here and while no coding was necessary the group still spent the two days with building the sandbox, installing Linux on a computer and calibrating.

Simulating brain damage

Again this group used and built upon an existing idea. The exhibit was about parts of the brain and what certain parts are responsible for, together with a simulation of concussion and it’s effect on the brain. This part was based on a Hacking STEM project.

Jacob’s ladder

At first I was afraid that this project would be too dangerous but the students insisted on it and took every possible safety measure. Using a transformer from an old microwave they built a spectacular plasma arc. The exhibit was nicely designed around the states of matter introducing the plasma state to young ones.

Zoetrope

Using some materials found in one student’s garage, this team built a giant zoetrope and built the exhibit around the illusion of how motion is perceived. The young students could build their own smaller versions.

Interactive relief map

This was a very simple but at the same time really interactive exhibit. A large relief map of the Earth was painted and LED installed at certain points. The visitors got small card with the description of natural wonders on it and by pushing the right button could see where on the map they were.

Travel through the Solar system

The students positioned scaled models of the planets of the Solar system on the corridor in distances according to their distance to the Sun. The little ones could sit and travel through space on a shopping cart, stopping at each planet a learning about its specifics.

Giant piano

This giant piano was made with the use of makey makey. The program for making the sounds was written in Scratch by the students.

Brain model

As we were just studying the nervous system in Biology classes, the brain was a popular topic for the students. This group made a brain model, which could be taken apart and put together with Velcro. The original plan was to insert LEDs in it, but putting in the wires proved too complicated, so they did not do that.

Galilei plane

The original plan was to make Galilei’s inclined plane experiment with magnetic levitation. This was the only group that could not carry out their idea, mostly because they spent too much time waiting for the magnets and when they got them and they did not work, they had no time to work out a solution. They settled on a simple Galilei plane.

Robotic hand

This is a project based on a Hacking STEM lesson. Building the complete hand and the glove to control it is a real challenge to someone without experience in bread boarding and electronics. Still the group succeeded and even came up with a nice task for the visitors who could build just one finger using a straw.

Galton board

This was a very ambitious project which partly succeeded. They built a Galton board and the idea was to connect it to a computer. Using Data Streamer . They planned to sense which pocket the balls are falling to and make a statistic calculation of the distribution. It turned out that two days was not enough to come over all the mechanical difficulties, but they were close to a solution.

Optical illusions

This group worked with optical illusions. The main exhibit was a Powerpoint slideshow with several types of optical illusions. The different types and the underlining mechanisms were also explained and some were built in 3D.

Giant pan flute

Using an old desk and some plastic tubes, the students built a giant pan flute. By hitting the top of the tubes the visitors could make music. The most interesting for me as teacher was that the students had to find out how to calculate the required length of the pipes to have the exact tone. They did it without officially having learned of sound waves before.

Our own Science Center was a great success, the young ones were amazed at the wonders of Science, the older ones were really proud of their work. Each student wrote a detailed diary of their work to conclude the week.

Author: Gergely Nádori, Scientix Ambassador

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview