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University of Udine (Italy)

Research Unit in Physics Education




GAMES, EXPERIMENTS, IDEAS

From low-cost materials to the computer on-line
120 simple experiments to do and not only to see


realized by
Research Unit in Physics Education, University of Udine (Italy)

project and supervision
Marisa Michelini

realization
G. Bosatta, M. Bosia, S. Bosio, G. Candussio, V. Capocchiani, D. Ceccolin, L. Marcolini, M.C. Mazzadi, M. Michelini, S. Pugliese Jona, L. Santi, C. Sartori, M.L. Scillia, A. Stefanel

photography and technical work
Plinio De Zorzi

cooperation
AIF - Association for Physics Teaching
GIREP - Groupe International de Recherche sur l'Enseignement de la Physique


HISTORY

The hands-on exhibit Games, Experiments, Ideas (GEI) was born in April 1994 as contribution to the IVth Week of Scientific Culture. It was developed at the University of Udine by the Center Laboratory for Physics Education (CLDF) of the Research Unit in Physics Education (CIRD), in collaboration with the Italian Association for Physics Teaching (AIF - Associazione per l'Insegnamento della Fisica), from an idea of Marisa Michelini.
In its first showing it offered 60 experiments prepared by Maritza Bosia, Plinio De Zorzi, Marisa Michelini and Maria Luisa Scillia. The AIF local section of Pordenone borrowed the exhibit in January-February 1995. Maria Carla Mazzadi, Maria Luisa Scillia and Chiara Sartori grouped the activities thematically and rewrote and improved the presentation of each experiment. They then organized the exhibit in the Museum of the Science of that city. In that occasion GEI was visited by about 3000 primary and middle school pupils and their teachers.
GEI was afterwards reviewed and enlarged by the Research Unit in Physics Education of Udine University in the persons of Giulietta Bosatta, Stefania Bosio, Giuliana Candussio, Vilma Capocchiani, Donatella Ceccolin, Lorenzo Marcolini, Marisa Michelini, Gian Luigi Michelutti, Silvia Pugliese, Lorenzo Santi and Alberto Stefanel. It was exhibited again in Udine during the Vth Week of Scientific Culture (April 1995) when it was visited by about 2200 students and 150 teachers. It subsequently acted as source of activities for about 100 teachers who followed in service courses organized by M Michelini and G Candussio in Udine and in Gorizia by the University of Udine and by IRRSAE Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In these courses the teachers worked on how to introduce practical explorative activities in the school science curriculum for 11-16 year olds.
An english version of the materials was prepared for the GIREP-ICPE International Conference on Teaching the Science of Condensed Matter and New Materials (Udine, August 1995), when the exhibit was visited by more than 250 Conference attendants from 32 countries and by many Italian teachers.
In January 1996 GEI was requested by two important Museums: the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milano and the Balance Museum and National Documentation Center of Modena.
Seeing the interest aroused by GEI and the many requests the organizers decided to replicate the materials. In the future this would also allow to contribute to the improvement of science teaching by lending parts of the exhibit to schools. Finally, in the occasion of the VIth Week of Scientific Culture (Spring 1996), the exhibit was contemporarily shown at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milano, at the Balance Museum in Campogalliano (Modena), in Udine and in Gorizia.
For this achievement we mostly thank Plinio De Zorzi who, in a few months of untiring and perseverant efforts, replicated all the necessary parts in the workshops of the University of Udine and Donatella Ceccolin who looked after all the administrative and paper work. Our thanks must also go to the personnel of the Advanced Course for Teachers and to the Tutoring and Guidance Centre of Udine University. A special thanks goes to prof. Marzio Strassoldo, Rector of the University of Udine, and to prof. Cesare Scalon, Director of the Advanced Course for Teachers, who believed in the importance of this initiative and supported its development.

CULTURAL AND DIDACTICAL FRAMEWORK

Today GEI is a collection of 120 simple experiments in mechanics, heat and temperature, electricity, electro-magnetism, optics, chemistry and astronomy. The equipment goes from cheap and easily reproducible materials to new technologies such as on-line sensors and computers.
GEI aims to be a source of activities to try, to play with, to experiment with... exploring ideas and using ideas to explore phenomena. It is not something to only look at - it is intended as a tool to be used, in school or in a more open environment, for analysing and understanding phenomena. It can be enjoyed in a number of ways: pupils can work with their teachers, alone or in groups, with schoolmates or friends, with university researchers or parents.
GEI can be lended to teachers who wish to enrich their science teaching with practical activities. The familiar materials are unthreatening to any user. They encourage the user to make personal explorations, to perform simple experiments and to answer the questions posed by the accompanying cards. The exhibit stresses the playful aspect of individual discovery, so important in eliciting the personal involvement necessary when learning scientific subjects especially at the age when developing scientific culture requires the maximum effort, i.e. when children are forming their basic knowledge. The experiments allow to acquire fundamental scientific knowledge and can be organised as monothematic educational mini-courses. Without any presumption of completeness, they indicate the correct way of posing questions to oneself and of using ones knowledge and ability to obtain appropriate answers through appropriate experiments.
Four kinds of written materials are available for each experiment: a) photographs of the experiments with captions, b) short and easy-to-read cards suggesting a first operational approach to each experiment, c) cards offering guidance to a thoughtful performance of the activities, d) articulated texts for a more formal school-based approach, containing tools for investigating the children's learning patterns.
Several didactical paths through the materials have already been opened. Other paths will be opened with time by the children and by their teachers.
We hope that the exhibit will continue to spread and grow and prove its usefulness to science education.

SECTIONS

A. FORCES AND EQUILIBRIUM
B. FLUIDS
C. ELECTROLYSIS AND BATTERIES
D. ELECTRICITY
E. ELECTRIC CIRCUITS
F. LOGIC CIRCUITS
G. MAGNETISM
H. HEART WITH THE ON-LINE COMPUTER
I. LIGHT
L. VISION
M. THE PATH OF THE SUN
N. ANALYZING FOOD
O. CHEMISTRY OF LIFE


Physics Dept. University of Udine  I Versione Italiana

© Research Unit in Physics Education, University of Udine (Italy)
Last Updated on April 19 1997