Title of Project: Cyberdiscovery
Project Coordinator: María del Carmen Rodríguez
Centre: IES Viera y Clavijo
Age Range: 12 to 15 years
Link to the Project materials: Blog del proyecto
Cyberdiscovery is an eTwinning Project. The central idea of the project is very original, it came from the following centres: IES Viera y Clavijo (Tenerife), el Zespół Szkół Gimnazjum Nr 6 Szkoła Podstawowa Nr 13 w Zawierciu (Zawiercie, Poland) and Heinrich-Böll-Gesamtschule (Oberhausen, Germany). The educational centres have focused on the use of robots and the possibility of living on Mars.
The project highlights the use of information technology tools. The pupils investigate and experiment with robots and learn how to program. The robot presents a large catalogue of original and innovative materials and activities.
The project is an enriching learning experience. Many approaches and disciplines are mixed together, such as: the use of a foreign language; design work; investigation and, above all, the ability to work as part of a team.
María del Carmen Rodríguez and Martín Brandon Díaz Arvelo, the two teachers responsible for the project at IES Viera y Clavijo, comment on the development of the project:
Objectives of the Project
The pupils from Spain, Poland and Germany create a virtual ciy on Mars where robots co-exist with humans. The pupils investigate and use advanced technology. Working in the same way as an international coorporation of scientists, they investigate using a design program called Lego Digital Designer. Taking advantage of Computer Aided Design (CAD), they design colour sensors, assemble pieces, test the assembly in 3D and even create the robot directing it using Smartphones via a bluetooth connection or following instructions offered through Skype from Germany to Spain to Poland or vice versa.
The pupils investigated and used conceptual maps to show the results. Many visual techniques of presenting ideas were used, such as: brainstorming, comic type drawings, vokis, slides, posters etc. Questionnaires, interviews of pupils, parents, teachers, astronomers, scientists and businessmen were used. The pupils investigated cybernetics, the use of robots and new technologies, the use of information technology in daily life and in working life. The pupils speculated about the future asking questions: what exactly would these robots on Mars be like in the future?
Phases of the Project
Firstly, they sent a robot-pilot to explore The Red Planet and to investigate the possibilities of establishing a settlement to pave the way for future missions. The pupils used calculations to make an informed choice about the best landing location, they created a time machine and a space station inbetween the Earth and Mars. The aim of the space station was to help to transmit and to receive information, to transport robots and people through a hole at a speed superior to the speed of light, passing barriers of time and space from Earth.
Little by little, more robots and essential materials for the construction of the city were sent, such as: wind turbines, cranes, conveyor belts etc.
Later, the pupils would send a group of engineers to Mars in order to prepare the city. They would connect electricity and water supplies to the new homes.
As workers, the pupils contributed to the construction of factories of essential products which would be necessary for this new cosmic life. As engineers, they designed (with the program Google SketchUp 8) buildings in three-dimensions which included greenhouses and streets.
As scientists, they studied the climate and atmosphere inside and outside the buildings on The Red Planet by making scientific experiments. Our pupils became the first inhabitants of this new planet. They wrote a constitution and elected a president. The famous singer, Cristo Manuel Guerra Sánchez from Tenerife, an ex-pupil form IES Viera y Clavijo, created a national anthem for our project called, ‘She’s Electric’. A community on Mars was established which used its own money and methods of acquiring water and food.
Finally, the project reached its conclusion with the conquest of other planets in the Solar System and the universe, such as: Kepler 186f. The pupils launched space ships and rockets from Mars.
The pupils used their imagination and creativity to design a sustainable virtual world different from planet Earth.
The conquest of space and the colonization of Mars requires knowledge of physics, astronomy, detailed information about the planets and an analysis of all the phenomena that take place there. In order to acquire this knowledge, it was necessary to interview astronomers and scientists; to take part in debates; to investigate factories; and to summarise the findings using diagrams and graphics. There was intense communication between participants and there was a detailed revision of all the information generated before it was published. The pupils used specially designed evaluation criterias to analyse and study errors and they developed learning strategies in order to resolve problems.
Benefits for the Pupils
The pupils not only got an insight into the capacity of modern devices and the enormous technological opportunities available but also they recognised the problems that effect our planet. In addition they learnt to be tolerant; to accept different beliefs and attitudes; to understand the way the world works; to learn mutual respect but, at the same time, to make proposals and justify their points of view within a group.
Benefits for the Teachers
The project promoted the development of creative and innovative learning practices which have in turn encouraged the sharing of experiences and ideas.
Benefits for the Centre
The project has improved the cooperation and communication between the participating schools and the broader educational community in each centre. We would like to highlight the collaboration between departments and the participation of the parents. In addition, the project has improved school life in general and made sharing ideas and materials easier.
The main positive points have been:
- The integration of the project into the curriculum of each of the participating countries.
- It has allowed the pupils to experiment with robots using Lego Mindstorm ev3 and to design programs for mobile phones which allow the pupils to familiarize themselves with modern technology.
- The inclusion of humanistic ideas in the development of the project throughout the subject areas of Mathematics, Physics and Technology.
The main difficulties have been technical problems related to the design and assembly of the robots; the localisation of the sensors; and the choice of the best mobile phone to control the robots with.
Concerning the National Prize for eTwinning 2015
This prize has recognised our centre and our work. Both the work of Martín Brandon Díaz Arvelo in Technology and my own efforts have been recognised as promoting a teaching methodology which is flexible, dynamic, interactive and innovative not only in English but also in other areas such as Information Technology and Robotics. The pupils have learnt by designing materials and producing highly original ideas and pieces of work. This experience has encouraged me to work on more projects of this type. The pupils have not reproduced what we have taught, they have experienced, analysed, debated and resolved problems in an autonomous and creative way. In addition, they have enjoyed the experience and are proud of what they have learnt.
The project has promoted and raised the awareness of all the agents involved in the educational community. They now realise that their participation can contribute to the development of a more modern and futuristic school. A school which goes further than our frontiers and the barriers that are created by the class exercises and rigid schemes of work.
The pupils realise that robotics and the use of Information Technology are essential to our daily life and our professional future. The city on Mars is a new Europe.
We include the video of the closure of the project in which the pupils simulate their departure from Mars.
Source of Images: Blog of the Project Cyberdiscovery.