How did they carry out the best practice?

“Beyond the water!”

  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.

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

OIL DROP
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

STATIC SOAP BUBBLE
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

NON NEWTONIAN FLUIDS
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, …

CARTESIAN DIVER
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, …

WATER BEADS
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:
• MATRACCIO DI PASCAL
• WATER STREAMS
• WATER ROCKET

Link to materials