In the project »Photosynthesis«, students were asked to develop new materials for the use in schools at lower and upper secondary level. The project belongs to a series of school garden projects, in cooperation with the University of Cologne, and supported by the RheinEnergie Foundation.
The focus of this school garden project dealt with the topic on how to explain photosynthesis. Individually or as group teams, students developed concepts and models which were presented at the end of the project in a Friday presentation. While working on the project, the group visited the university’s school garden and school lessons, and studied a lot about photosynthesis. This served as the basis to draft and elaborate on concepts for experimental, interactive, and playful material to encourage pupils to learn more about the topic.
In all examples, the concepts and drafted resolutions did not follow traditional approaches on how to deal with the topic of photosynthesis as we know it from schoolbooks and online tutorials.
Instead, the project was intended to find a playful way to learn and to gain experience by individual projects in the school garden or in the atmosphere of a class room.
In many of the solution proposals, the smart phone as (nowadays normal) digital tool for school kids from the 5th class played an important role. Therefore, the positive and cool image of this tool for school kids was connected with the seemingly uncool school curriculum in order to raise the attractiveness of subjects like biology and ecology for kids who live a great amount of their time in the digital world.
Furthermore, the partcicipants could design action and solution patterns in order to look at the process cycle of photosynthesis from other perspectives and by unconventional means helping to raise new impulses.
In a next step, the University of Cologne and KISD will produce selected project ideas as a prototype to test them in a learning environment of a school class so that it will be possible to gather direct experience out of the material.
01 Wissen macht Party
Lea Klein, Jacqueline Michael, Alexandra Schlißke
It is a one-day event for a school class in the school garden of the university. The pupils will get an »invisible« backpack« with working material to learn, in a playful way, about the different stages of photosynthesis. Students will be able to check their ability as future teachers since they are part of the respective leading project groups that guide students through their assignments.
02 At the scene
This object is a life-size model of a chloroplast in which you can sit and learn about the details while interacting with the object and focusing on the main part of a plant where photosynthesis takes place.
03 Save the forest
It is an app to understand the complex theme of photosynthesis through playing and going to different levels. At each level, one component has to be won in order to activate the photosynthesis and to bring back the forest to its inhabitants.
04 Kohlenstoffsenke/Carbon sink
It is a digital game for smart phones to understand and learn about the digital footprint. In order to activate the different games on the smart phone, the pupil has to read the QR code on the columns in the school garden.
05 Green Graffiti
The student developed a PDF file to use in combination with standard schoolbooks. The pupils are encouraged to explore and learn about the topic by themselves through experimenting with natural material and text and video tutorials from the PDF.
Katharina Querbach, Barbara Stöhr
Plantum is an illuminated 3D-model which allows the pupil to learn about photosynthesis together with and by means of a digital game. The model consists of two illuminated leaves, one symbolizes the primary reactions, the other one the dark reaction. One will understand the reaction by acting with one’s digital device, eg. shaking, wiping, blowing.
07 Photosynthesis in focus
This concept wants to motivate older pupils to create a video tutorial about photosynthesis to explain the theme to younger counterparts.
A wooden basis, a LED strip, five engraved Plexiglas screens and five work sheets help pupils to prepare themselves for a test at the end of the lessons on photosynthesis.