The best of StarT 2020

The LUMA Centre Finland is proud to share the top ten best educational practices and projects carried out in learning communities across the world in 2020. The videos of these twenty nominees introduce educational practices worth noting and present inspiring ideas for carrying out interdisciplinary project-based learning in schools and kindergartens. Have a look and let the videos of the top contestants of StarT inspire you!

Best project nominees

In the StarT season 2020, many wonderful children and young peoples best projects took part to StarT competition, from which the jury selected the 10 most deserving project entries as nominees to compete for the International LUMA StarT Award.

A playlist compiled from the best project nominees can be found here.

Check out the International LUMA StarT Award 2020 nominees listed in alphabetical order by project name below. You can get to know more about each project through learning diaries linked next to each project.

Alternative Solar Energy

Name of the learning community: Primarschule Atelier Zwillikon, Switzerland
StarT theme: Technology around us
School state: primary school
What subjects have been used in the project: natural sciences, mathematics, languages (German, English), handicrafts.

Link to the project diary

Briefly: Because it would be too difficult to invent an electric car, the children decided to do experimental work with parabolic mirrors and Fresnel lenses. Children created solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.

An Action Plan to Save the Moldy Books in Yunhai School Library

Name of the learning community: Yantian Yunhai School, China
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state: Primary school
What subjects have been used in the project: comprehensive practice, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and engineering, mathematics, china, art, geography and science.

Link to the project diary

Briefly: During the project, students conducted several experiments to find out why mold grew in books. They also figured out how to prevent book mold.

Clean environment-clean water and healthy food-happy life

Name of the learning community: Kindergardner Dječji vrtići Mostar-Mrvica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
StarT theme: Sustainable development
School state: early education
What subjects have been used in the project: biology, history, mathematics, physics, art, technology, music.

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The children learned about the importance of water, healthy food and a clean environment. During the project, they raised climate awareness and conducted experimental studies on water filtration, among other things.

Comparison of water quality of the Chimehuín river with that of nearby puddles with mosquitoes

Name of the learning community: Club de Ciencias Huechulafquen, Argentina
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state: High school
What subjects have been used in the project: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Spanish and English, Video and Photography, Expression

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The project aims to characterize the type of habitat that female mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs. Water quality samples were taken in the river and in parallel puddles for comparison. Water and bait traps were also placed, but they did not work.


Name of the learning community: Agrupamento de Escolas de Alcanena, Portugal
StarT theme: Sustainable development
School state: High school
What subjects have been used in the project: Biology, geology, chemistry, physics, economics

Link to the project diary

Briefly: Seventeen high school students researched and grew algae to produce biomass for biodiesel, while combating the pollution problem in their home town.

Food Miles and Climate Change

Name of the learning community: COLE International Schools, Austria
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state: Primary school
What subjects have been used in the project: Natural sciences, mathematics, art and design, geography, biology, English and German.

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The project investigated the impact of food transportation on climate change. The project included various workshops to study food spoilage, measure carbon dioxide levels, and learn how to reduce the carbon footprint.


Name of the learning community: Siaures licejus / Northern lyceum, Lithuania
StarT theme: Sustainable development
School state: primary school
What subjects have been used in the project: Mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, crafts, Lithuanian grammar, English.

Link to the project diary

Briefly: In a project focusing on climate change, the children experimented and found that 1⁰C can play a big role both at home and in nature.


Name of the learning community: Päiväkoti Piilometsä, Finland
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state: Early education
What subjects have been used in the project: Finnish, mathematics, Environmental Education, music (snowmen songs), physical education, chemistry, physics

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The idea of snowman research, which emerged at the first LUMA Science Club, expanded into multidisciplinary snow-related research.


Name of the learning community: Alyadodah Secondary School For Boys, Jordan
StarT theme: Technology around us
School state: High school
What subjects have been used in the project: Physics, electronics, information technology and English
The project was chosen as a favorite of the audience in international public voting

Link to the project diary

Briefly: During the project, the environmentally friendly robot PIP.01 was completed. PIP.01 works with voice commands and is able to have a conversation. PIP.01 is a miniature of what we can achieve in the field of robotics.

“Vamos salvar o mar!” – “Let´s save the ocean!”

Name of the learning community: Colégio Valsassina, Portugal
StarT theme: Sustainable development
School state: primary school
What subjects have been used in the project: Languages, mathematics, science and the arts (music, drama, visual arts)

Link to the project diary

Briefly: This project arose from our interest and motivation to learn more about the threats to the ocean and the urgency of protecting them. “What can we do to protect the oceans and marine life?”.

Offical recognition of excellence

Due to the high quality of the projects and practices. The jury wanted to give recognition also to these best projects. First time in StarT history we want to give Offical recognition of excellence to projects and practices. These earn the visibility and this honorable mention.

You can find all the best projects that have received an honorable mention listed below or in this playlist.


Name of the learning community: Shaping Your Future (IMR & I-Form), Ireland
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state: High School

Link to the project diary

Briefly: Keyzy is a product designed to help people open doors easily. Keyzy is aimed at people with tremors, brain damage, or Parkinson’s disease.

Low Energy House

Name of the learning community: Primarschule Atelier Zwillikon, Switzerland
StarT theme: Sustainable development
School state: primary school

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The observations and experiments will be used to build a low-energy cardboard house and test it in real conditions using computer simulations and a thermal imager.

Machine Learning to Detect Forest Fires

Name of the learning community: Fista, Finland
StarT theme:
My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
School state:
secondary school

Link to the project diary

Briefly: How can forest fires be detected by processing a satellite image using neural networks? A group of seventh graders study the matter through machine learning.

Safety improvement of amusement device in Yi Haicheng-”protective shield” of the swing”

Name of the learning community: Project-based learning group of “Xing Si” school, China
StarT theme: Technology around us
School state:
primary school

Link to the project diary

Briefly: The swing is a favorite of every child around the world. It can be dangerous because some children stand while swinging. After the analysis and experimentation processes, a safe swing is created.


Name of the learning community: Tampereen lyseon lukio, Finland
StarT theme: Technology around us
School state:
High school

Link to the project diary

Briefly: Snakebot is a bionic robot with the properties of a snake, a caterpillar and a scorpion.

Best practice nominees 2020

In the StarT season 2020, many great best practices took part to StarT competition, from which the jury selected the 10 most deserving practice entries as nominees to compete for the International LUMA StarT Award. A playlist compiled from the best practice nominees can be found here.

Check out the International LUMA StarT Education Award 2020 nominees listed in alphabetical order by practice name below. You can get to know more about each practice and find out how they carried out the best practice by reading the project description of the practices. Link to the practice description and additional materials can be found next to each practice.

21st Century Child

Name of the learning community: Ecole Sidi Abdelkrim, Morocco
StarT theme: sustainable development
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: The best practice provides new ways to manage a multi-grade classroom and combat the absense, as well as dropping out of school, especially for girls. Practice focuses in particular on the use of information and communication technologies in teaching.

Since I was posted in a rural isolated school, I started thinking of some new ways to manage the multi-grade classroom and combat the absence and school dropout especially for girls. I had to think of something special that will make my children love to come to school, this where the idea of using the magic of ICT and making weekly surprises has come from! I brought 2 laptops with additional batteries to surpass electricity absence, it was the first time my students have touched a PC, and they get familiar with it so fast! I started by creating and programming my own educational digital resources, android Applications and videos, responding to my pupils’ needs, and could be used on computers and mobile devices! With the magic of technology, parents started to think again about the importance of education and that girls can do magic with the power of education, which highly decreased the absence rate! Those innocent eyes waiting for me every morning to try something new, pushed me into giving everything I have, to improve education for children and especially girls, in schools and regions in hard conditions. After 3 years I thought about getting my work to another level, and I started working on pupils’ skills in a larger field (especially in a marginalized schools situated in neighborhoods known by crime and poverty!). A global project which I called the “The 21Cc : The 21st Century Child” has born, with the objective of making my students believe in themselves, getting closer to their teachers, by doing lots of activities, being a part of local and global projects, and communicate not only with their comrades in the same school, but with friends and experts from all around the world using Skype in the Classroom!

We worked also on coding projects, communication projects, SDGs project in collaboration with schools from different countries, and this has made of our marginalized school so famous and got its first international certificate and published for the first time its first school magazine, considered as the best in the whole region!

Sidi Abdelkarim primary school in Settat City in Morocco, in only 2 years after using this method and integrating ICT in innovative ways, could publish its first website in collaboration with its teachers and students. We won the first prizes in so many competitions, we could have a place in the Microsoft Schools list, and we could change the school from a marginalized school with bad reputation, to one of the best schools in the region. With no financial resources, me and my pupils could work together to get prizes which could help us improving our learning journey!

Tried a project-based learning approach that depends on students group work to make researches about SDGs or real-life topics and then discuss them with their comrades and with other students from other countries via Skype! That improved my students’ research, ICT and communication skills! Besides that, my children, by connecting to other cultures and schools, they get involved into global projects which make them use ICT to realize SDGs in collaboration with other students and organizations! Also, this approach makes my children more confident and have a clearer vision about their ambitions and they accept others, because I believed from the beginning, that if they accept others, they will definitely accept themselves, I believed that they could surpass their reality and all the hard conditions around them!

Coding with the micro:bit, programming robotics, using the Virtual Reality and expressing themselves by creating videos, could impressively improve my children’s communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills, so that they could make a place in global projects as No.More.Plastic, Arab Reading Challenge, Diy4Earth, Climate Action, Africa Code Week, and more…

As a MIE Expert, a Skype Master Teacher and a MIE Master Trainer, I decided to share this experience as much as I could, by training teachers and inspiring new ones, and also sharing digital resources for students, so that the magic and power of ICT could achieve every classroom, to attend a quality education for every child! And I create also for free videos and Applications to share them with parents and teachers, to encourage using ICT in learning activities!

This method and experience, decreased to violence rate in my classroom, and changed so many children, by orienting their energy to improve themselves instead of feeling marginalized! ICT is not a myth for them anymore, and I’m really lucky to have such children, and I’m really proud of them!

A link to a SWAY describing the best practice
Link to other materials (.pdf)

A Yangtze Story

Name of the learning community: The Yangtze River Cultural Research Community, China
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: Interdisciplinary study aims to fill the gap between school and other knowledge, as well as to provide primary school students with real-life experiences and ways to utilize what they have learned at school in real life. By integrating curriculum design into social development and cultivating thinking outside the box, citizens can be moved to a new era.

First,the Daxin Central Primary and Middle School led the effort in establishing the Yangtze River Cultural Research Community with the Zhangjiagang Maritime Safety Administration, the Zhangjiangang Museum as well as the city’s Water Resources Science Museum.

Second,the Daxin Central Primary School has set up an interdisciplinary study project team, including faculty members from all disciplines, who join forces with outer school agencies to discuss and implement the curriculum.

Third,the community leaders reached a decision: to design the curriculum around an experimentary task, building a Yangtze Culture Museum for Children.Every child taking a part in the project is a designer of the museum, and they will further their study of the Yangtze River culture over the course of designing the museum.The museum model, for instance, is a product of this interdisciplinary curriculum.

Link to materials (.pdf)

Air, Water & Land Pollution

Name of the learning community: Children of Sarajevo – Kindergarten “Dunje”, Bosnia and Herzegovina
StarT theme: sustainable development
This the best practice is a science club

Briefly: Every winter our city is for several weeks one of the most polluted places in the world. In those weeks, we can’t take the kids outside. That’s why we decided to set up a small lab in our kindergarten and teach the kids more about pollution and the effects of pollution. In this way, children can understand the basic concepts of pollution, understand the human contribution to pollution, and understand the state of their own city in this problem.

We come from a very beautiful, historically and culturally rich city, but also a city that is unfortunately very polluted, especially in winter time, due to our geographical location and the lack of environmentally friendly source of heating and traffic. Every winter, for weeks sometimes even months we hit the top ten list of most polluted cities in the world. During those days we cannot take children outside due to severe air pollution. We are talking about the children aged 6 months to 6 years. This winter they were complaining and asking why they couldn’t go outside. So we decided to organize a little laboratory in our kindergarten and do a project to teach them all about pollution and then we could continue to use this space for all sorts of science projects.

We had the idea of combining 2 groups (4 years and 5-6 years) in order to have older children help and assist younger during the experiments. Our goal was to help children understand the basic concepts of pollution, the causes of pollution and the state of pollution in our city. We wanted to raise awareness and understanding of human impact on pollution.We started by reading a picture book Lorax, that talks about man made pollution and its affect on life on Earth. Then, we organized several activities and experiments to help them understand and learn from practical, hands on examples. In order to help children understand that the air outside is toxic even if we do not see it, we carried out a few experiments. First we observed the air with the flash light and that helped us see dust in the air. Since our city is very foggy in winter time, we have learnt that combination of fog and smoke make smog. We observed different sources of smoke in our environment and then did the experiment smog in a jar in order for children to understand first how fog is created in nature and then how it turns to smog when it combines with smoke that comes from cars and heating plants. Finally we collected pm particles for 5 days and observed them under the microscope in order for them to understand that even if we can’t see pollution it is still there.

After that we carried on learning about water pollution and how it’s connected to air pollution. One of the major sources of water pollution are acid rains. We had the fortune that during the project rain started falling and our city woke up fog and pollution free. We used that moment, went outside and talked to children about the reasons why we had clean air that morning. Together we concluded that rain has cleaned our air, but that raised the question where did all those bad, dirty particles go. Again, with a little help they understood that they must have fallen to the ground and to the river. Then, we started learning about acid rains and did experiment with vinegar on how the acidity affects things around us. With the help of one of our parents who works in company that deals with water safety, we were presented children’s kit for testing water and we did a few experiments testing the acidity or ph of water (tap water, rain water, puddle water…). One of water’s qualities is its hardness which we also tested with our water quality kit and then talked about how too much salts make water hard, and also unusable for humans. Then we tested the water in which we added the vinegar to see if it would make water harder and went on to draw conclusions on how the acid rain affects our waters and life in them. Finally we made a model of our city and made up a story about Edy the fish who wants to explore our river Miljacka but finds himself in all sorts of polluted areas and realizes that he cannot live there.
in order to help Edy come back to river Miljacka we did a little experiment on how to clean water using sand, stones, soil and filters. For this we used water from our river.

At last we learnt about land pollution. Children are aware of the fact that trash is polluting the land and water as well, but we tried to explain to them that trash left outside in the wind, rain and snow, will start to leak all kinds of poisons that are toxic for plants, but also for us who eat those plants. Also one of the major pollutants is plastic, so we decided to bury a few items in our yard and dig them out in a week. While we were burying the items (plastic, wood, metal paper, orange peel) we talked about what will happen to them. We wrote down the children’s answers and after a week we dug them up, observed and made conclusions. We compared our answers before and after to see if we were right or wrong. One of the smartest deductions came from a 5 year old boy, who said that if the trash left in the ground leaks toxins didn’t we do a bad thing by burying our trash. We explained that he was absolutely right and that we will never do it again. Our discussion led us on to talk about recycling and the importance of not making unnecessary waist. At that moment we came back to the picture book Lorax from the beginning of our project. The main idea and the message of the book is that people use natural resources to make a lot of things they don’t really need and in the process of that they destroy the environment. We used that moment and started talking how we could do more for our environment and do we buy things we don’t really need. We asked children how many toys do they have at home, are those toys plastic, do they play with all those toys or are they just sitting in the bins and shelves. Then, we made a pact and promised that since they have enough toys they won’t ask their parents to buy them any more toys, only on birthdays and at kindiergarten they will be more careful not to break or lose toys, so we won’t be buying new ones and that is how we will help save our environment from more pollution.

The final stage of our project was learning about agricultural pollution. We know that we have to eat, we also know that our food comes from farms, but we didn’t know anything about how farming is polluting the environment.

We showed them pictures of farms, fertilizers, pesticides and explained them that farmers use these things in order to make sure that their crops will grow and that insects won’t harm them. But this kind of practice contributes to pollution, because fertilizers and pesticides are toxic for the soil and water. Fortunately the scientists have come up with a way to grow a lot of food safely and it’s cold hydroponics.That is growing food without soil or fertilizers or pesticides. In order to make this more clear we decided to grow some lettuce in an improvised hydroponic vessel.
In our local garden and pet store we bought everything we needed and started the project with the aim to tech children the process of hydroponic, sustainable food growing and to encourage them to start growing food with their parents at home.

From the beginning we wanted to teach children about pollution, especially air pollution so we could help them understand why are we stuck inside, why do we carry face masks and how the humans are contributing to the destruction of our home planet. In the end, it turned out that children have learnt so much more. We did learn about pollution, what causes it, why people are destroying the environment, but the most important thing is that we helped raise awareness, that the children understood what kinds of behavior and actions cause further destruction and what are the steps to take in order to prevent it. These children are very young, they cannot make any significant impact, but this is just the right time for them to learn these lessons and carry them through out their lives. It was amazing to see how much more careful they were with their toys, reminding each other not to break anything because we have to take care of the things we have and not to buy any more of them. Their way of thinking and conclusions they came up after doing the experiments was truly amazing and it was evident that they were understanding the concepts of pollution and its causes like real scientists making connections and evidence based conclusions.

Link to materials (.pdf)

“Beyond the water!”

Name of the learning community: Scientific association “Aghi Magnetici”, Italy
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: A scientific approach to life is important and that is why the practice is called “Beyond the water”. The main goal is to arouse students’ interest in scientific research. Teacher-led scientific experiments allow students to analyze chemical reactions and find interesting things about science.

  1. The project
    I often wonder about Newton and the apple. The apple is not important in itself, however it is important because Newton understood what gravity is through the apple. In the same way students could use water to scientifically explore world and its phenomena such as light and colours, gravity, meteorology, chemistry, life science, … It’s the scientific approach to life that really matters: and that is why the project is called “Beyond the water” (“BTW”).
    So, my idea is that teachers lead the experiments in their classes (no more than 4 or 5 experiments) and then analyze the student reactions to the activities collectively.
  2. Target audience
    The project involves primary school students: they are asked to carry out experiments about water and to share their activities using online meeting and ICT. As the main aim is to arouse the students’ interest in scientific enquiry, the experiments could easily be extended to middle school students and even to high school students. They will be able to find out something interesting according to their scientific skills.
  3. Aims of the best practice
    I think that is essential to give teachers new opportunties to teach science in a new way. The BTW project let teachers and student try innovative learning techniques. Here are some.
    • The “Beyond the water!” project gives opportunities to improve educational activities at different levels: some students may be interested in physical or chemical properties, some others in floating or still in pollution and sustainability.
    • Gaming launch – Children should have fun during an experiment, this is the right engagement.
    • Sharing and ICT – The more the project is shared, the more students learn and refine their understanding.
  4. How does the best practice relate to the curriculum? What group of learners is the best practice designed for?

The school curriculm is closely linked to the “scientifically thinking”, not only to a specific topic. The STEM activities, such as the “BTW”, is actually a learning method, not a list of laws and rules. Science is a specific approach to life, a new way to get in contact with nature. In this perspective science learning should be a creative activity, something that gets you more interested and involved in whatever happens around you.

How many students have participated in your project?

• 2017-2018
90 students in Italy
25 students in the Ukraine
32 students in the United Kingdom

• 2018 – 2019
170 students in Italy
60 students in the Ukraine
72 students in the United Kingdom

How do you carry out assessment in your best practice?
Usually schoolwork is evaluated overall in conjunction with the whole student’s pedagogical and educational profile. Here in Italy teachers evaluate different skills (scientific, artistic, interpersonal, …) and the “BTW” project help them in this task.
I would also add that a good learning experience should not have only a good or bad mark as a result because children need new engagement, something that goes beyond books, marks, lectures, I mean something that opens up a doorway to new experiences, contacts, cultures, social relations. The “BTW” project aims to provide these new opportunities.

Project Details and how to replicate and share
Students carry out the activity in teams and try to improve the experiments, to make a challenge, to find out more about how the world works.
Then they share their activities with other students from other countries, using possibly online meeting and ICT. The “BTW” project of course can be carried out even without the international sharing, it’s up to the teacher’s intention.

Description of some of the experiments.

How does oil (petroleum, plastic fluids, …) react with water? We can reproduce the situation with a plastic jar and a drop of nail polish.
Observations: Pollution (breathing), colours and light, thickness of the surface

Mix ½ L of water in a jar, 50 g brown sugar, 130 g washing-up soap (better with glycerine)
Observations: Shape of water, colors and light, inner motion of the water, coloured paths

Scientists created polymers which have amazing fluid characteristics: the non Newtonian fluid (something like “slime”).
Mix glue (3 dessert spoons), backing soda (1 teaspoon), saline solution (1 teaspoon)
Observations: Fluid and solid properties, shapes, …

A new version of the experiment by Cartesio, with an Italian folk tale as a backdrop; just put together straws and paper clips!
Observations: floating test, floating conditions, pressure, air, …

Find them on the internet or at the florist’s. They are polymers that grow in water and become transparent.
Observations: the model of the human eye, light refraction, water lens

Other experiments:

Link to materials


Name of the learning community: Radviliškis Gražina Basic School, Lithuania
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is event

Briefly: At the science event, teams of 5-6 people were able to build an environmentally friendly house. Students learn that the physical properties of houses can affect how well they fit into the environment.

Radviliškis Gražina Basic school has been organizing ecological education for almost 15 years. The 30th of January was a special day for the school because of the practical workshop “ECO-FRIENDLY HOUSE”.
Three frequently collaborating teachers decided to organize activities that fit the StarT project’s ideology and requirements.
Lithuania has declared 2020 as the Year of School Communities, so the event organizers invited various communities (outside the school) to join their practical workshops „ECO-FRIENDLY HOUSE“.
Six teams agreed to attend the event: Radviliškis Kindergarten “The Star” team, Radviliškis Vaižgantas progymnasium team, Radviliškis Gražina Basic School team, Radviliškis District Daugėlaičiai and Miežaičiai Rural Communities team, Radviliškis Public Library team and Radviliškis District Municipal Administration team.
One month before the workshop, the communities received an invitation describing the terms and conditions of the forthcoming event. The workshop conditions were simple enough to fulfill:

• To make a team of 5-6 members;
• The team could prepare the frame of an eco-friendly house in advance as they will have an hour to complete it during the workshop;
• To build an eco-friendly house model using environmentally-friendly materials in an hour during the workshop.
The event organizers supplied only small tools like hot glue guns, hot melt adhesives, nails, et cetera.

The start of an event

Laisvūnas Vaičiūnas, the headmaster of the school, welcoming the participants of the event, was glad that today ecology penetrates into various spheres of life.
The choir of primary students put everyone in a good mood, and invited huge applause from the participants .
After the introductory words and greetings, the teams started working. Real construction has begun! The houses looked unlike each other; they were constructed using natural materials (a tree bark, clay, stone, etc.) and various technologies. Within an hour each team was able to create real masterpieces: a model of community village, a cosy wooden hut, a clay house, a shelter in a forest, Santa‘s eco house and a perfect model of a sustainable farmhouse.
This creative workshop set off one more important thing: the older passed on their experience and wisdom to the younger; they managed to build their environmentally friendly homes. Whether it was a model community village or a hut, children could learn in innovative ways.

An hour later the members from each team were interviewed by the event leaders. Participants were asked to answer three questions:

  1. Why did they decide to attend this event?
  2. What materials did they use?
  3. What new things did they discover today?
    Members from Radviliškis Municipality thought that a workshop provides a way to create an intensive educational experience in a short amount of time. The most important thing was mentioned by the town vice-mayor Mindaugas Pauliukas. He revealed the idea of building a real eco-house near our school and there educational activities could be organized for all the students of Radviliškis district.
    Orginizers of the workshop, were delighted with the event and reminded everyone that this event is a great example of community collaboration.
    What was next?

After the workshop eco-houses were exhibited in the school lobby.
Primary teachers prepared an evaluative type activities. First of all, students learnt that physical properties of houses can affect how good they are for the environment. After this, the students were asked to explore the houses and discuss:

  1. What are the walls made from?
  2. What are the windows made from?
  3. What is the roof made from?
  4. Which house model looks the “greenest“?

4th and 5th grade students had to indicate the characteristics of an eco-friendly house on the task sheets. They also had to creat a bookmark „Eco House“ in an ecology lesson.

For first year students their teacher suggested to play a fun drawing game for revising an eco-house parts. Students were divided into 4 teams of four students (each team had a dice). Also, each student had to have a piece of paper and a pencil.
The teacher wrote on the whiteboard:
• 1- WALLS
• 2- DOOR
• 4-ROOF
The students were told that they are going each to draw a picture of a Eco House by rolling a dice and then drawing the part of the house related to the number rolled.
The goal of the game is to be the first team to complete a drawing of a house. The point is that the walls must be drawn first, so students can‘t start drawing until they roll a one. Students must also draw the door and windows before they can roof, solar panels and wind turbines. The first team completes the drawing-wins!

Another fun game “WORD RACE” was offered to 5th grade students. The students were divided into two teams. The student from each team had to run and write down one word or phrase related to the eco-house theme on the board, then run back to their team and pass the marker to the second student. The team continues until one team runs out of words. This game can help revise the vocabulary and engage students in the classroom. If the word is not related to ecology, the team loses a point.
A history teacher gave a statement „ECO-HOUSING IS NOT A EW CONCEPT“ and they had to choose whether to agree or not. The students had to prove their choice by indicating sources they used (Appendix 3).

An ecology teacher, collaborating with an English teacher, created a domino game to revise collocations related to the eco-house. Students had to combine words that usually go together. They also played a standard version of the domino game.

Ihmeellinen ihminen – opitaan yhdessä yhteistyö

Name of the learning community: Esiopetus Taipalsaari Kirkonkylän koulu ja LAB ammattikorkeakoulu, Finland
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: The Learning Together project arose from the need to give nursing students more skills to work with children. The aim of the project was to create real interaction situations and increase understanding of the nursing student’s way of thinking, acting or caring for fears related to nursing situations.

Project is suitable To connected learners age of six To students of Saimia (nurses..) Students got knowledge of children, children got knowledge of human beings.
Six year old children started the project to study human beings. Children and their parents gathered questions from May to August. There were many questions about human beings. “Is it possible to get long hair if you give plenty of water to your hair? Why do you need helmet while riding with bike? How do you get strong bones? Is it dangerous when your heart is ponding?” We made video about our questions.
On May we had already discussed with the teacher Mia Blomqvist who is the teacher of nurses and students of paramedic at Saimia. The students need knowledge about children, they do not know how to behave while having children as customers. Our discussion ended and we promised to keep in touch.
We made a video about our questions of children. We sent the video to students of Mia Blomqvist at Saimia. The students answered to us with video and asked us to come for a visit on November.
Before workshops of Saimia we visited health care nurse of our school with the toys of children. They measured their toys with nurse and also they visited social worker of school and discussed with her. What belongs to the good life. Do they have friends.
The cook of our school also visited our classroom telling about bones and what do you need to get strong bones. Children made statistics about eating habits of vegetables, drinking milk and we got 206 yes/answers as many as we have bones.
Before November we asked what ideas children had about how much sleep do they need, what kind of food should they eat, We had project-based learning approach to find the answers to their questions. Our students age of six had the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills through our engaging project of human beings. They had also noticed challenges that they had not slept or they had not eat properly and they had noticed problems in the real world. We discussed at forest about problems of children.” If you do not sleep, you cry a lot. You cannot go to the trip to the forest, legs are heavy- you don’t have strength.” said Väinö age of six. Everyone was expert of sleepinghabits.
At November children were learning by doing at Saimia. The students of Saimia had designed workshops based on the questions of our children. Questions were about heart, about what is inside of human being, about ambulance, about knowledge of eating habits and health care. They got consequence of experience. Children discussed a lot and they had opportunity to be active while learning. They discussed, made experiments, measured and were able to try for example the equipments of ambulance.
Children age of six made presentation and organized an event to their parents 28.01.2020. Parents, sisters and brothers visited posters where children told about our projects, put heart, brains, inestine and lungs to real places and explained how to get good brains, what do you need to get strong heart. They measured the ponding of heart with stethoscope before running at gym and after running. They made a poster together with their parents about what their heart likes a lot. They visited skeleton and they made statistic s about what they think is bad for their teeth. There were eggs lying inside vinegar, pepsi soft drink, milk, water, blueberry juice, tea and coffee. Children put plastic cube near that bad drink, made hypotheses. Then they observed the eggs and noticed that vinegar was harmful to egg- egg lost the shell totally, also egg lying inside the pepsi was weak, blueberry juice, coffee and tea made shell of egg discolored. It is important to wash your teeth!
Solving real-world issues lack of sleep, lack of vitamins are good knowledge to children.
Teachers part is to prepare students for success in life, the way to that is to prepare children for a project-based world.
At this project children age of six were able to involve experiential learning and discovery learning with the help of students of Saimia, with the help of own parents and with the help of cook of school, social worker of school and heath care nurse of school. Children also asked questions about growing from teachers and assistant of our school. One was really tall and one really small. Children focused to questions, they got challenges to find out how to measure the pounding of heart, how to get heart pound a lot- how to get healthy heart.
Children used critical thinking – Tiia and also Julius our teachers had both eaten good way, had moved a lot, had slept and still Tiia was small and Julius tall. What is the reason? The used communication skills, did collaboration, and used creativity.
Children had opportunities for feedback and revision of the plan and the project during the whole project starting from their own questions.
Students presented their problems, research process, methods, and results to their parents on 28.01.2020 at LUMA week. Children got also knowledge of food and senses as a part of their wellbeing. Food is full of properties that we perceived with our senses of smell, touch, hearing, sight and taste. 

Links to materials: Ihmeellinen ihminen (.pdf)
Opitaan yhdessä projekti (.pdf)

Integration of Engineering Design in Teaching STEM

Name of the learning community: Al Omareyah School, Jordan
StarT theme: Technology around us
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: The aim of the practice was to evaluate the learning experience of women aged 13-16 in a STEM course. The results obtained from the practice suggest that STEM practice can increase motivation to learn.

This practice was conducted to evaluate the learning experience of (13-16) year’s female
students from a privet Jordanian school that adapted the engineering-based model Massachusetts
(2016) in STEM courses. A total of 549 of (13-16) year’s female students started taking specific
units of approximately one-month integrated STEM courses. This made them engaged in
designing and building different prototypes as well as resolving higher order thinking questions
relates to problem-solving activities. Students’ responses on the UTAUT survey, and their
teachers’ opinions on implementing this practice through open-ended questions, revealed that the
practice brought awareness to the school students of their potential as problem solvers, thinkers,
creators, and collaborators. Students were able to simultaneously broaden their boundaries in
knowledge and competency even though they experienced difficulties in tackling challenges
associated with STEM activities. Findings suggested that the Integration of engineering design in
teaching STEM practice can be applied as a means to increase the motivation towards learning
STEM topics in addition to enhancing creativity, problem-solving skills, and thinking skills
among (13-16) year’s female students.

Link to full report (.pdf)

Pi & STEM. Famous number Pi, we found it everywhere!

Name of the learning community: “Zhani Ciko”, Albania
StarT theme: Mathematics around us
This the best practice is work instructions

Briefly: The purpose of the practice is to make mathematics more interesting for students. The idea is to set up a number of interesting activities where students have to do research, use the internet and various online tools, and work in an international group to share ideas and thoughts.

Where will we use it

Name of the learning community: NUN Schools / Istanbul, Turkey
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is science club

Briefly: Students always ask us one question, regardless of the topic being taught: “Where will we use it?”. The goal of the practice is to create a curriculum that is compatible with the curriculum used in school, but that would enrich the curriculum through storytelling and dramatization techniques, and to thoroughly answer the question “Where will we use it?”.

The students always ask a common question to us regardless of the topic we are teaching: “Where Will We Use it?” 3 years ago I started a journey with the thought that if an education system could not answer this question, it would not provide permanent learning for the student. My objective in this journey was to write an applied educational curriculum that would be compatible with the curriculum we applied at school, but enriched by curriculum learning, storytelling and dramatization techniques.
And fundamentally to answer the students’ question, “Where Will We Use it?”
After long researches, I wrote my curriculum and I gather my students and different students together with my workshops in out-of-school settings.
Our work at my school takes a 90-minute day a week and students are looking forward everyday for this practice.
As they come to my door with new information, they do not know where they will need it for a week.
Maybe what excites them the most is the fact that they have one of the rare moments of not being a student within the school?
Because, students are no longer have their studentship as they enter the door and receive their titles according to the theme of that week in our workshop.
Cryptologist of the Future,
Forensic Science Specialist of the Future,
Surgeon of the Future,
Architect of the Future,
Archaeologist of the Future,
Civil Engineer of the Future,
Farmer of the Future…
Every week we welcome our students to a workshop decorated according to that week’s theme.
Decorating the classroom requires a long process and effort; any material can become a part of the decoration. All stakeholders in the school environment also support us.
We sometimes use background music in the decorated classrooms according to the theme of the week.
In addition, students wear costumes according to the theme in the workshop in various weeks.
We are expecting our students with their fiction, scenario, decoration and their roles.
Once the students enter the workshop, we tell them a plot. The plot is often from current news, science and art magazines and students are given a problem to be solved. The time to solve the problem is only 90 minutes.
Our students cooperate quickly to solve the problem and choose their groups to work together.
They know that in time consuming designs, working in teams would provide them with newer ideas in terms of creativity then to work individually.
When it comes to science, the first thing that comes to mind is experimenting.
In our workshop, we introduce students to the fact that everything in nature is a science.
Sometimes they do researches to find the years to which the historical artifacts they have obtained belong by making archaeological excavations and turn them into news articles to explain in the live evening news.
Sometimes, they use their architectural knowledge to build new works inspired by historical works.
Our goal in the workshops is not to solve the problem in 90 minutes. For this reason, we expect the students to cooperate by working together at all times instead of individually.
We continue to be an observer during that period.

Yhteistyöprojekti Matkalla Marsiin 2020

Name of the learning community: Pikkolan koulu, Finland
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is a course

Briefly: The students form a space travel agency. They develop marketing documentation for the company and also design a rocket and test program for recruiting astronauts. The aim is to improve the skills set in the physics curriculum, as well as to learn how to design and implement small science projects with technology-based measuring devices.

Journey to Mars 2020, is a collaborative project for the lower secondary school eighth grade elective stem course and an elective IT course lasting almost the entire spring semester.

Link to materials (.pdf)

Offical recognition of excellence

Due to the high quality of the projects and practices. The jury wanted to give recognition also to these best practices. First time in StarT history we want to give Offical recognition of excellence to projects and practices. These earn the visibility and this honorable mention.

You can find all the best practices that have received an honorable mention listed below or in this playlist.

Interactive means and information technology in the service of inclusive education

Name of the learning community: Oppimisyhteisö: Riad, Morocco
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is a method for the assessment of students

Briefly: Utilizing interactive tools and technology will increase the quality of learning, support concentration and achieve independence among children with special needs.

A project directed to children with special needs at the Class of Inclusive Education at the Riyad School in Ait Ourir
In our class ten champions who fight to defeat their handicap. These heroes suffering from various disabilities: intellectual disability, autism , tri-chromosome 21, hearing disability, hyperactivity and distraction.
About three months ago I started working in the Class of Inclusive Education and starting from The reality of the class , and after defining the needs of the learners, I decided to work to raise the quality of the learning in these class and to ensure the formation of an independent personality for the learners by working on preparing digital resources and interactive books (inspired by the Montessori method) to support the focus, fine mobility, and achieving independence. Prepared in consultation with Medical specialists To choose what suits this category .
On the motor side, I worked on preparing interactive books and training students on manual work.
On the knowledge side, I chose to hire CIT by the creation of digital educational resources: Using Scratch and PPT
• puzzle game, maze game, color and shape game and memory game

• Aimed at stimulating : visual memory ,focus, logical connectivity and fine motor.

You can read more about the project here or here


Name of the learning community: Oppimisyhteisö: Colegoi Valsassina, Portugal
StarT theme: Sustainable develpement
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: The best practice aimed at pre-school education, where the product of the collective creativity process is a story. This learning practice challenges, teaches, and develops children’s interaction, listening, and writing skills.

The practice is a learning practice based on a collective creativity process aimed at pre-school children. It is a story created in a collaborative format involving a mysterious writer, 3 classes of 5 years old children, their Philosophy and kindergarten teachers along a period of about 15 weeks. The mysterious writer is someone children don’t know who is. He/she challenges the children with a story with a sequence of chapters. New insights given by children through a “conversational writing” process, are sequentially incorporated in the story by the mysterious writer.
The process of building up the story has 5 steps.
1: CREATING THE STORY: The mysterious writer creates a story organized as a sequence of chapters.
2: INVOLVING / ENGAGING THE AUDIENCE: The mysterious writer sends a letter to all the children inviting and encouraging them to collaborate and become part of the storytelling. The letter also refers the central theme of the story, introduces the main character, the setting and the conflict. At the classroom, with their philosophy and kindergarten teachers, children listen and discuss the theme of the story and the main character, ask questions to clarify meaning, evaluate the relationship, sequence and coherence of story path before sequentially participating in building up the story.
3: BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY: Following the sharing of the story, children are asked to create questions that are based on what they are curious about or interesting in. Questions may reflect their ideas about the whole story or part of it. At home, parents are also invited to collaborate with children by helping them to search for information or by providing information to answer their questions. Kindergarten teachers’ collet the children questions, answers and arguments and communicate the follow up to the mysterious writer by sending her a letter. Every week the mysterious writer confronts the children with a new chapter by sending a new letter and the inquiry process is repeated again.
4: CONTENT SHARING: The mysterious writer brings into the light the ideas generated by children through a “conversational writing” process, giving textual cohesion to the story. Along the “conversational writing” process children take in what the mysterious writer has created, evaluate it, and synthesize that content with their own thoughts to create a new idea. They use problem-solving skills to figure out how the pieces fit together to create the whole. Moreover, they discover and benefit from the social nature of writing.
5: WRITING THE STORY: The collected information allows the mysterious writer to integrate new episodes or develop different branches of the story. When the story reaches the end, the mysterious writer is revealed.
The approach uses the potential of storytelling to develop and expand children learning skills:
i) EMERGENT LITERACY and LANGUAGE SKILLS. Emergent literacy in a broad sense refers to an over-all attitude toward the development of a communication system. Literacy is not a product but includes the dynamic process of inter-relating thinking/view, listening, speaking, writing and reading.
Children take conscience that people use different ways to communicate: Speaking and Writing. They learn how to treat right, to ask questions, to give answers. They become aware of different intonations (prosody).
ii) The characters we use in handwriting are different from those in printed writing. The Mysterious Writer’s letters are handwritten and the chapters are written on a computer. The Story of Violet uses fables, proverbs, songs, rhymes that are part of the oral heritage and also children’s literature. This will prepare kindergarten children with the language background needed for the refinement of reading and writing in primary school level.
iii) listening and paying attention. Children retain information through their interactions with others and this includes language skills. The more children listen to what others have to say, the better their vocabulary and communication become;
iv) narrative development skills. As children’s narrative skills develop they will begin to follow the rules of storytelling such as the correct sequencing of events, including all relevant characters and establishing a coherent narrative. During a collaborative learning session, children develop their social skills and learn together which improves their relationships with one another in the class.;
v) collaborative learning skills Collaborative learning helps children develop compassionate and realistic expectations of one another Children are valued for their differences and learn and grow together;
vi) critical thinking. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way children express their own ideas. In learning how to analyse the logical structure of texts/narratives, critical thinking also improves comprehension abilities. Critical thinking helps children to make good decisions, understand the consequences of their actions and solve problems. Encouraging this kind of thinking early in a children’s life prepares them for understanding the books they will read on their own later on;
vii) environmental literacy. The story provides a context for introducing natural science, contents and addressing/questioning societal problems, which will prepare children for citizenship, nurtures their appreciation of the natural world, and enhances their physical well-being.
viii) gross motor skills: children observe the movements of the various animals in the story and discover how they use their bodies to get moving (e.g. crawl, run, jump, etc). Having good motor control helps children to explore the world around them and also helps with their cognitive development.

Link to materials (.pdf of Google Drive)

Yksilöllinen mobiilioppiminen

Name of the learning community: Paraistenseudun koulu, Finland
StarT theme: My LUMA (a topic of your choice that relates to science, technology or mathematics)
This the best practice is teaching method/model

Briefly: Individual mobile learning enables learning regardless of time, place or technology.

We are two simultaneous teachers of Paraistenseudun koulu, a comprehensive school in the Finnish archipelago. Our students are 13-16 years of age. One of us is a mathematics teacher and the other one a special needs teacher specialized in mathematics. Our problem has been the great heterogeneity of our teaching groups: the weak are really weak and the most talented can handle high school assignments. In the meantime, the average student has often been neglected. We started looking for a solution to the problem on the Internet and came across a method of personalized learning. That seemed to be the answer to our problems. We developed the method to serve the needs of our school. This personalized mobile learning enables learning regardless of time, place or technology. We have now used the method of personalized mobile learning in mathematics at out school for over four years now. During this time, the enthusiasm for studying mathematics has clearly grown and the atmosphere has improved and even some of the decisions on intesified support have been abolished. A personalized learning method responds well to everyone’s needs.

In the method the teacher doesn’t teach all the contents of the course sequentially according to a pre-established timetable. This prevents the accumulation of small misconceptions or informational deficiencies into a bigger problem. The method also improves the student’s perception of their own learning process and understanding of the learning objectives. In addition the personalized learning method enables each student to progress independently from one topic to another. This gives slower learners more time to learn the most basic skills, while more talented learners get more time to learn the most difficult topics. If someone is ill or fails for any other reason to study sufficiently, in the method of personalized learning, he or she won’t get behind since each learner will determine his or her own pace.

Math courses make the most of tutorial videos and online assignments found on the course pages in Google Classroom. The benefit of classroom recordings is that they are flexible: the student can start and pause the recording at any time of their choice, search for a specific point or repeat the same video many times. In our courses, common theory lectures have been replaced with instructional videos that students can watch independently via the Internet, at home, or at school. The teacher doesn’t teach theory to the whole class, but the students study the theory either independently or in small groups. The teacher can also teach difficult issues personally to a particular student or a small group of a few students who are in the same phase of their studies. So math is taught at every lesson and almost all the time, but not to everyone at the same time. In this way, the learning of each student is at the same time completely personalized and communal peer learning.

An electronic study card based on the textbook used has been prepared for the students in the spreadsheet program. There you will find the course objectives, required tasks and assessment criteria. Students make a study schedule for themselves on their study card. The student’s own responsibility and at the same time his freedom increases. We constantly monitor, guide, and help students progress. Everyone’s course is sure to be completed and at least the basics learned, but not at the same time and with the same content.

The tasks on the credit card are grouped by level so that the student can easily select tasks that match his or her skills, goals, resources, and time available. We always encourage students to try some more challenging tasks as well. Students still use the traditional pen-on-paper method when calculating maths from their own will. (There is also a paper version of the student card, if the student finds it more appropriate for his or her own way of studying.) After calculating the assignment, the student marks it on the student card, which automatically calculates the percentage of the assignments made. At the same time, both the teacher and the pupil are always aware of how much the pupil has calculated and what level of tasks they have. The students have exemplary solutions available for checking assignments.

We walk around in the classroom all the time asking if our help is needed. If so, we will explain the ambiguous section in question to the student just as we would do when teaching the whole class at the same time. The idea behind this method is that now the student can choose the most appropriate way to study. If he or she needs teacher-led instruction, we’ll do it, but not in front of the classroom, but besides the student’s desk. If the student wants to go on his or her own, this is also possible.
When the common task review and some of the unnecessary theory repetitions are eliminated from the classroom, more time is left for the individual guidance of the student.

The course consists not only of assignments but also computer exercises, teamwork and tests. When the students feel that they master the topic, they take an electronic test. Most assignments are self-correcting, so the students receive immediate feedback on their skills. The student tries to solve the incorrect answers with the help of the material. Once a sufficient level of know-how has been achieved, the student may proceed to the next topic. If the test goes poorly and there is no solution found even with the material, we will provide remedial instruction. The idea is that the student understands the previous topic before moving on to the new one.

Project work teaches not only teamwork skills but also information retrieval, source criticism, and a chance to apply the things you have learned. The grade for the course is based on the points the student earns on the exercises, computer exercises, project work, lesson activity, and intermediate tests. At the end of the course, we will have an evaluation discussion with the student. We will discuss how the student has completed the course and achieved the goals he or she has set. The grade is the conclusion of the discussion.

Link to materials

The best projects of previous StarT seasons by theme:

Check out the StarT material bank for ideas and inspiration for projects related to these themes! The material bank includes ideas for projects from early years education to high schools and the videos and descriptions of best projects and best practices from earlier years.