Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 1163-1166
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.0359
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Halfway between the experiment and the focus group, between the quiz and a game, we have experienced a new format to "focuses" on sustainability and the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and its principles. Concepts as reversibility, efficiency and entropy, are then "visualised" by the participants, showing the relations with the economic value, waste, the energetics budget and raw material costs are explained from a different point of view, proving the physical limits to the economic growth and environmental exploitation.

We are researchers working at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), typically we are called by schools teachers to introduce cosmology, high energy physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity. Since 2011, after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, many high school teachers have started to ask us to speak about nuclear energy and more in general of the energetic issue.

After sometime spent making boring presentations, we have started a different approach: the exploitation of energy is strongly connected to the issue of the sustainability, the small subset where environment, economics and societies meets. But, while the rules of the society and of the economy are made by humans, the environmental ones are dictated by nature that follows the principles of thermodynamic which sets the limits. That means that we can make a better introduction to thermodynamics by investigating the society and the economy. This pushed us to use one of the most used methodologies to understand societal and economical issues: the focus group. Young students divided in groups of 5/7 people, equipped of post it and pen, discuss and present to their colleagues the most relevant answer to societal and physical challenges that we propose to them. At the end of the game they seem to have better understood the laws of thermodynamics!

The method has been successfully tested at hight schools and publics science events, generating an interesting feedback. The method and preliminary results collected in 3 years of survey will be presented.

This project is part of the initiatives promoted by the researchers of the Frascati Laboratory of the National Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) to promote research and involve youth in science.
Thermodynamics, physic teaching methodology, research and education, researchers at school.