, Group dynamics
, Inquiry-based learning
, Learning Scenarios
, Oral presentation
, Project-based learning
, STEAM (STEM + Arts)
, STEM skills
, Upper Secondary Education
The aim of the lessons is to introduce students to using Fermi’s problems, starting from a nowadays challenge, the rise of sea levels due to climate change and the effect expected in on of the most famous coastal Italian city, Venice.
My name is Matteo Torre and I work as a math and physic teacher in an upper secondary school in Italy. I designed a learning scenario for physics classes for students aged between 15-16 years old (2 Liceo Scientifico).
Students were divided into 8 small groups and they were invited to use their own devices (tablet, smartphone, PC, etc.) to solve the problems posed them during the lesson. The activity is divided in following steps:
- How high would sea-level rise if all the glaciers on Earth melted?
- Will Venice be submerged by a possible rise in sea level?
- Can we use a Fermi Problem to save Venice?
- Try you to invent new Fermi problems on Venice
The final goal is to evaluate the meaning and reliability of the data available on sea-level change in Venice.
The activity focuses on the estimation problems at Fermi, which is an estimation problem designed to teach dimensional analysis or approximation, and such a problem is usually a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
Dimensional analysis or approximation
We discussed effects related to earth overheating that could determine different sea-level rise (from a few centimetres to hundreds of meters), and how it is possible to interpret these data from a Physicist point of view. The beauty of Fermi problems, that some students translate into a meta-cognitive obstacle, is that there is no single right solution, but many possible proposals, all equally credible.
I decided to introduce the Fermi Problems in my learning scenario because in my professional experience they are an excellent example of a skills test for mathematics and physics, suitable for all types of students and school. These problems are named after the physicist Enrico Fermi
(1901 – 1954), Nobel laureate in physics in 1938, who was known for his ability to make good approximate calculations with little or no actual data.
During the physic classroom activity, students have great benefits to use Europeana resources, in particular starting from a frontal view of a palace in Venezia
to estimate the difference in height between high tide and low tide.
A student measuring the difference in height of different sea-level on a photo of a Venice palace form Europeana collection.
What benefits for the students?
The students used the detail on the trace left by the algae on the building and calculated both the level of the tide and the height of the balcony in order to understand which level is not sustainable from Venice. This didactic situation was very interesting because it created a problem of esteem inside a problem at Fermi and the students had the opportunity to estimate a value instead of just searching it on the Internet.
Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:
Did you find this learning scenario interesting? You might also like:
13 Responses to "Save Venice (LS-IT-254)"
An interesting Learning Scenario. I liked that that you chose a contemporary topic, that of climate change. This is because we have to relate to today’s issues and educate the students about what everyone could do to minimize this problem. I am sure that group work, technology and that a good discussion about this subject might have made them more aware of the issue. Well done and thanks for sharing it!
Many thanks for your comment! My educational ideas try to improve math and physics students skills also using real problems.
It is a plaesure form me sharing thi Learning Scenario and collect yours comments and remarks.
You are very welcome! Its a very good idea that you use different subjects to help the students be critical thinkers and problem solvers. After all education is for life and not just for the exams and assessments. Well done!
Well done! this learning scenario is interesting indeed. The fact that you focused your lesson on a current theme and something which is real and happening right now, makes this learning scenario even more engaging. Thank you for sharing.
Wow, a very interesting topic choice. We are currently working on a project regarding climate change and the students are finding it very interesting. As effective educators, we should help our students be aware of such issues. You implemented various interesting learning opportunities for your students and I’m sure that your students were motivated to learn more. Thank you for sharing.
Excellent idea to intertwine such a worrying current issue, a world-famous and World Heritage Site in your country and Physics! Besides all the learning associated with the developed tasks, this is definitely an effective way of developing students’ awareness towards climate change and its devastating consequences, namely in Venice.
Congrats on your choice of topic and on your LS.
Climate change, sea-level rising, glaciers melting….something that needs to be taught from an early age. Great idea!!!!! Also, making this problem real with your idea of measuring the difference in height between a high tide and a low tide is beneficial and crutial for students too understand the importance of Global warming. Very simple but at the same time very real and efficient. Great job!!!!!
Very interesting LS , Thank you very much for innovative ideas!
this learning scenario is an intriguing one. It is interdisciplinary and in my opinion really makes students become aware of the burning issue of climate change. It is a great idea to include Fermi’s questions because they make students think creatively and outside the box about the problems and strategies to solve them. Including Venice is the added value to this project.
An interesting Learning Scenario. I liked LS that you chose climate change and technology!
Interesting LS to enable a problem solving approach. I enjoyed learning on the use of Fermi problems which I gained through this Ls. Connecting to a real life situation that is a truly challenging problem like that for Venezia is great and enables students to look around, think critically and possibly take action. I am sure that this lesson is one which they gained a lot of skills…. more than meets the eye.
Many thanks and well done!
Very intersting scenario!
Above all, I appreciated the possibility of reasoning and formulating hypotheses on important and topical issues, making students the centre of learning.
They can train different 21st century skills
Thanks for sharing.
Climate change, sea-level rising, vvery important topics, here on a specific example we can show this to a young person, which is caused by disrespect for the climate. Great job!!!!! We can train different 21st century skills in one LS !!
Thanks for sharing.
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