C. Pavan, G. Santovito

University of Padua, Department of Biology (ITALY)
This study falls in the field research of Life Science didactics. According to the main Italian (Italian Guidelines for the Curriculum in the Primary School-2012 Edition) and European law documents (Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, 18 December 2006), and to the scientific research as regards this subject, it seems to be more useful, in Life Sciences teaching, to use a laboratory didactics which lets the student to be active protagonist of his learning.

This work entered in this prospective, in order to give value to usefulness and validity of the laboratory didactics in the teaching-learning processes of Life Sciences.

In order to pursue this scope, a preliminary investigation has been carried out concerning the teaching methods usually adopted by teachers of Natural and Experimental Sciences of the Primary School involved in this research. The obtained results were useful to know the didactics practices in Life Sciences teaching in the context where the research has been conducted and, in this specific case, in Microbiology, verifying the originality of the project and the used approach.

Afterwards, a didactics project in the field of Microbiology was projected and realized, specifically considering the microorganisms in the alimentation, an issue that in Primary School is usually marginally considered. All the research was realized by laboratory activities, the use of scientific instruments such as optical microscope and culture medium in Petri’s capsules and the application of the scientific method. Either observation-comparative method, peculiar to Evolutionary Biology, and experimental method, peculiar to Functional Biology, were applied. As comparison, the project activities were also developed with traditional methods such as frontal lessons. Some simple tests were proposed, in order to verify and compare the efficacy of the two types of didactics.

The didactic project involved the students of a third class of a Primary School in Trevignano (Treviso - Italy) and was split in two phases, corresponding to two dealt arguments. In the first part, the main types of microorganisms were presented, focusing in particular on bacteria and the importance of washing hands before eating. In the second part, yeasts were dealt, with their alcoholic fermentation and the food application, such as the leavening of bread.

The obtained results confirmed the initial hypothesis that in the Life Sciences teaching-learning process a laboratory didactics is more effective of a traditional approach. The scientific method,used in the experimentation, was very valid for a long life and meaningful learning, producing skills to be used in other contexts. The use of scientific instruments, such as optical microscope, and techniques, such as microbial culture, gave value to the application of scientific method and helped to reach optimally and often excellently the programmed goals. The students were very motivated and interested in the subject of the microbiology. All these activities can be proposed again to other students of primary and secondary school with some adaptations.