[Workshop] - Coding unplugged: a powerful education tool for everybody
13:30 - 15:00
Presenters: Silvia Casu, Maura Sandri, on behalf of INAF Play-Coding Group
Aimed at in-person participants
Computer programming is the language of technology. The ability to ""speak"" this language is crucial not only for future computer technicians, engineers and scientists, but for all of us: in a world that will be increasingly rich in computer applications, technology and digital devices, knowing what they are, how they are made and how they work, allows us to use them wisely and consciously. The foundations of a programming language are based on computational thinking, which could be considered as the ability to translate the world around us into something understandable by computers. Coding, then, is not just about chips, software and language syntax, but first and foremost about logical connections between different elements (what we usually call Algorithms). Logical connections, sometimes complex, but that can be broken down and analysed in small ways. We here present an activity of coding unplugged, i.e. activities that introduce the fundamental concepts of computer science and the logic of programming without the use of digital tools. Coding unplugged is a powerful tool in education: it is democratic and inclusive, it is creative, it is reasonably low cost, and, although it is often used only for young children, it is instead suitable for all ages. During the workshop, we will present the main guidelines of coding unplugged, some possible astronomical scenarios and some practical applications.
This work has been developed by the INAF working group on coding and educational robotics.
Day 2 - Thu 11th May
Hunting in the dark: an educational escape room on star and planetary formation
14:15 - 14:30
Co-authors: Alessia Zurru, Silvia Leurini
There are many different trends in using active learning strategies in classroom to improve student engagement, understanding and collaboration. Active learning approaches include problem based learning (PBL), laboratories and hands-on activities, peer learning, and game-based learning (GBL) such as gamification and games for learning (G4L). A particular role in educational active G4L tools is played by escape rooms, logic games based on a sequence of puzzles to be solved, mysterious objects to find, encrypted doors to open. Escape rooms have been proved to be particularly engaging and stimulating toosl, especially for young people, and applicable at school in order to propose curricular and extracurricular topics. They allow to activate motivation, to develop problem-solving skills, enhance cooperative spirit and improve the pleasure in learning.
We here present a recent in-person escape room (“Hunting in the dark”), designed by the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica and targeted to middle school students. The project arises from the need to effectively tell astronomic topics such as interstellar medium and stars and planetary formation. We present the objectives, the storytelling context, the structure and some features of the “Hunting in the dark” escape room. Moreover, we discuss the results of preliminary tests with different classes, and the future application in astronomy education programs.