the presentation file

Eleonora Bilotta, Francesca Bertacchini, Lorella Gabriele, Assunta Tavernise
ESG group
Università della Calabria (ITALY)
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
• This work aims at analysing the arrangement of
educational laboratories based on the use of
advanced tools, involving students from grammar
school to University.
• In particular, the objective of these hands-on
laboratories has been the learning of scientific
topics starting from the manipulation of contents,
real or virtual ones.
• Both acceptation of technology and subject
understanding have been tested.
• Among the realized laboratories, we introduce
the following:
– Virtual Theatre Lab
– Educational Robotics Lab
– Chaos Lab
• In this case study, VT refers to one of the three
interfaces of the Face3D software, ideated and realized
by the Evolutionary Systems Group (ESG, at University of
The Face3D software
Virtual actors
• In particular, Face3D interfaces
are Face3DEditor (it allows the
modelling of Talking Heads),
Face3DRecorder (it allows the
synchronization of facial
movements with recorded files
of speech), and the Virtual
Theatre (VT), (it allows the
recording of the performance
in a digital environment).
• Regarding virtual actors, they
are Talking Heads, realized on
the basis of characters of
novels/theatrical works, the 3D
reconstruction of famous
personalities’ faces, or ancient
Greek masks.
Virtual reconstruction of ancient Greek masks
Technology acceptance
• The experimentation have been carried out in two
• In the first one, VT has been showed to high school
students and teachers by a live performance with
“real” actors and Talking Heads. Then, a qualitative
questionnaire on the possible use of the software in
the school context has been administrated. Data
derived from focus group questionnaires have been
analyzed by a content analysis software (MAXQDA,
<www.maxqda .com>), and results have been very
Technology acceptance
• In the second phase, two groups (20 high school students each) have
attended a six-hour course on a literature lesson (“A Midsummer
Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare). The experimental group has:
– arranged the script of the story in a group writing laboratory;
– recorded the dialogues;
– modelled the characters on the basis of the content to perform, using
– synchronized the recorded files with the facial expressions, using
– created the performance, using the VT interface.
• Afterwards, each subject has compiled the Questionnaire for User
Interface Satisfaction, which measures users’ opinions on software
utility, easiness of use and learning, satisfaction. Moreover, the learning
of the experimental group has been compared to that of the group of
control through a content questionnaire.
Some remarks on results
• Results show that a very high percentage of
the experimental group students has learned
the totality of the content, answering correctly
to the 100% of the proposed questions.
Moreover, all the participants have been
satisfied for the perceived enjoyment, and
many students have declared to be happy to
use again this tool, or a similar one, at school.
Educational Robotics Lab
• In recent years, a number of laboratory tools has given
great importance to the exploration/manipulation in the
learning process .
• Among these tools, the robot construction kits, designed
according to Piaget and Vygotskij’s theories, play an
important role.
• Many studies have considered Robotics as a motivating
and engaging technology, able to stimulate young
generations to learn scientific topics. A great number of
experiments have also been achieved, from primary
school to University students.
The educational activities have been implemented
using the Lego MindStorms Robotics Invention
System kit (version 1.5), that includes:
over 700 Lego pieces (traditional bricks),
the MindStorms RCX (Robotics Command System),
infrared transmitter,
light and touch sensors,
motors, gears,
the RIS (Robotics Invention System) software, and
a building guide “Constructopedia” (which helps users to
build their Lego robot).
The core of the Robotics system is the RCX, an
autonomous Lego micro-computer that can be
programmed without particular programming skills.
The RCX is like the “brain” of the robot; it uses
sensors (e.g., touch and light) to receive inputs from
the environment, it processes data, through the
program, and then, as output, the robot operates
autonomously in the environment.
 The activities carried out
during the educational
Robotics Lab have the aim
to investigate the different
cognitive strategies
adopted by children in
designing, building and in
programming a Lego
 The research activites
involved two different
classes of a primary school
of Rende (Cosenza, Italy):
 33 children (14 male and
19 female), aged between
nine and teen years, that
attended the fifth class of
primary school.
Lab organization
Some remarks on results
• Pupils attended the laboratory twice a week, for two hours.
• All the activities have been introduced in a playful and enjoyable way,
using also multimedia materials.
• During all the activities children have been invited to express their
opinions and their doubts, stimulating their critical thinking and
improving their learning.
• Activities have been carried out in different contexts: the didactic
activities in the classroom and the manipulation sessions in the school
common area. Finally, the school computer area has been used for the
programming activities.
Some remarks on results
• Obtained results have been satisfactory, since all groups solved
the goal through cooperation and exchange of knowledge.
• We perceived that the task enhanced the student’s
motivation, especially when they observed that the robot
worked according to the assignment.
• Hence, students, through the learning-by-doing approach, not
only built the robot, but they also improve their cognitive
abilities adopting problem solving strategies and creative
planning. All these strategies have been useful to create the
robot’s behavior. Social exchange of knowledge and
cooperation have also been observed in the group behavior.
Examples of robots developed by
• The aim of this laboratory has been
dissemination of scientific issues through the
construction of the Chua circuit, its computer
simulation and translation of chaotic attractors
in sound, music and 3D images.
• Starting from Chaos (one of the most important
topic of contemporary research), a nonconventional didactic environment in which art
and science meet and cause an effective
Edutainment (educational entertainment) has
been planned.
• As a starting point, it has been considered that
Information and Communication Technologies could
become cognitive amplifiers for supporting the
educational process and the approaching of young
generation to scientific topics.
• It has also been considered that the experience of the
beauty, simplicity and creativity of Digital Art could allow
a lightening of the difficulty of scientific topics, as well as
the comprehension of the scientific concepts of Chaos and
the Chua's circuit functioning A repository of 3D images,
coming from the Chua’s circuit, and the lab’s activities can
be found at the following web site:
The Chua's circuit
• The Chua's circuit is a non linear
dynamical circuit that has assumed a
paradigmatic role in the
mathematical, physical and
experimental demonstration of
• Complexity and Chaos are seen as
challenging topics reserved for
specialists. Is it possible for young
people to acquire concepts as
difficult as Chaos?
• In order to investigate this issue, we
have developed a tree steps
teaching/learning method, in which
student have manually built the
Chua's circuit, using it as a source of
creation for extraordinary images,
sound and and music.
Chua’s circuit and its components.
The pilot study
• In this pilot study, 50 teachers and 60 students
have been involved.
• First, a course for teachers has been carried
– questionnaires have been administrated in order
to deeply understand the teachers’ degree of
computer literacy, expectations, and potential
– Then, teachers, together with the researchers,
proposed a didactic package to two classes of
60 students.
• Students have been motivated to build the
Chua’s circuit, as well as virtually manipulate
attractors, translating them into sound, music
and images by a software application, realized
by ESG group, at the University of Calabria,
The teaching/learning method:
• The teaching/learning method allows to:
a) build the Chua’s circuit and visualize its chaotic
behavior, with a simulated oscilloscope;
b) simulate chaos by using the specific visualization
c) understand the beauty, simplicity and creativity of
chaotic behavior, by sound, music and images.
Some remarks on results
• By exploring and modeling the patterns of Chua’s attractors, students
transform mathematical models into sound and music and images.
• The hands-on activity provides a new, creative and enjoyable approach to
science learning.
• Direct interaction with the virtual objects encourages learners to think, to
formulate hypotheses and to test them through the experimentation.
• Results of all laboratories have shown that
participative and Edutainment (education
associated to entertainment) experiences can
remarkably enhance students’ learning efficiency.
• Moreover, it has been demonstrated that this
kind of hands-on activities can be very important
in school context, not only for topics such as
Physics and Science, usually linked to laboratory
practice, but also for Literature and Philosophy.

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