An exploratory start with the Basic Education



Résumé, summary

Pupils start to describe the contents of twelve bottles out of a set of twenthy-four right from the first class in couples. They exchange descriptions with other couples that look for bottles fitting the descriptions. The groups of four (sometimes three) pupils that are thus formed in a sponteneous way sort the bottles on their contents by means of aspects they chose themselves or that were given to them: sorting 'life'. The pupils describe the contents of the bottles in a table using plus signs and minus signs. Such a table makes it easier to select e.g. all bottles containing a colourless fluid. Pupils work with a table from a railway timetable in an assignment. The features stated in the table are set down on cards. The colourless fluids may be removed from the card-index box with kebab skewers: 'mechanical sorting'. With these cards (and actually by means of the table with plus signs and minus signs) the pupils have the selecting principle in mind on the basis of yes/no decisions. Attention is paid to recording numbers through the binary system in an assignment. The next step is sorting and selecting by computer, the working of which is based on taking yes/no decisions: by means of a computer program accompanying the method the pupils are able to control their previously made sortings and selections of the bottles. At home or at school pupils use the Railway Route Planner to look for the arrivals and departures of trains, that they previously looked for manually.

Discipline, subject :

physique Physik physics fisica chimie Chemie chemistry chimica informatique Informatik computing/computer science informatica computing computer science

Public :

cycle d'orientation Sek I, BWK lower high school ciclo d'orientamento postobligatoire Weiterführende Schulen upper high school postobligatorio

Contacts :

Van Berkel, Ton

An exploratory start with the Basic Education

Tel : 31 4930 12736
Mail :
Fax : 31 4930 21694

Pédagogie, pedagogy :

At our school for havo/vwo (higher secondary and pre-university education) we use 'Physics and Chemistry for the Basic Education' of the KUN (Catholic University of Nijmegen) in the second year of the three-year transitional period for the combined subject of Physics/Chemistry. In this method Informatics and computer use are integrated right from the start.

Apprentissage, learning :

During the first lesson, pupils work in couples on series of closely structured assignments, afterwards they work in groups of four (or three) pupils. The responses to the questions are set down on paper in order to follow the progress of the independantly working groups with respect to contents as well as time.

Enseignement, teaching :

Teachers and TOAs (technical research assistants) support the above mentioned organization form of 'teamwork'. Unlike in a formal class organization form, the teamwork's form may vary from team to team: one team needs more explanation, another team may have enough with a tip or works completely independant.

Technique :

We are working with the method 'Physics and Chemistry for the Basic Education' of the KUN (Catholic University of Nijmegen). A set of cards for a card-index box, and a diskette with a database program is supplied together with this method. The lab-manuals, cards, and database program described in the summary below are also seperately available in the courseware package 'An exploratory start with the Basic Education'.

Société, society :

Through the exchange of descriptions of bottles, groups of four (or three) pupils are formed spontaneously. It is a specific intension that pupils will work together and consult each other when they carry out the assignments and answer the questions. We included practical assignments that are to be carried out by each team within tests using cards for a card-index box and computers.

Culture :

Through cards for a card-index box the history of data processing and storage on e.g. punch cards can be considered. Through the described introduction of the computer pupils notice that it performs the same activities as they can do (or did) by hand or mechanically. The computer is faster though. Pupils will also see that computer results depend on the input of data too.

Institution :

Our start with the combined subject of Physics/Chemistry succeeds in a school organization in which most other subjects are still presented in a formal class form, however, it would be more successful if the organization form of teamwork would be applied within more subjects. Through differentiation in time that occurs spontaneously with teamwork, two computer configurations in the classroom will be enough for computer practice. Through the integration of Informatics in the teaching activities no additional teaching periods have to be allocated for Informatics within Physics/Chemistry. The series of lessons can be used in combination with other methods for Physics/Chemistry without much delay, because, among other things, a comprehensive manual for teachers and technical research assistants is included (with training situations on video).

Logistique :

Remarques, remarks :

Many core objectives Physics/Chemistry and Informatics of the Basic Education curriculum can be realized with the series of lessons. While working with the computer program pupils become acquainted with menu control and the practice of a database. We made our cards for the card-index box of the same size as 5_" diskettes. We use the diskette boxes as card-index boxes. While sorting the cards I got engaged in a conversation with a group of pupils about the number of groups you get if you sort on two features at the same time. It turned out that the two repeaters did know the concept of an empty set ('that is a round with a narrow line through it'), the two other pupils didn't have any set theory lessons during their first year in the Basic Education. When I asked my Maths collegue about it, he acknowledged that this was indeed removed. The courseware package 'An exploratory start with the Basic Education' includes a video tape with a scene of a group of pupils struggling with the question whether you should pin the kebab skewers together or one after another through the cards while sorting on two features. I myself have seen and heard this discussion being held by some groups of pupils. In the assignment on the binary system pupils are challenged to note their age in it (they will manage) and the telephone number of their school (they will understand that this means a lot of work with their hands). I found it striking that quite a lot of pupils were unable to find the right telephone number of their school. Indirect references are made to telephone exchanges that do use the binary system. Later on in the method data transmission by telephone is taken into consideration, by means of, among other things, a Telematics courseware package issued by PTT-Telecom (the Dutch telephone network company). We make use of the teamwork organization form in the third grade and higher for Chemistry classes. The SCO-Kohnstamm Institute (Institute for Investigation of Upbringing and Education) carried out a comparative investigation into our Chemistry instruction through teamwork, and formal Chemistry instruction elsewhere. The teamwork organization form is also suitable for Physics/Chemistry because through the occurring differentiation in time of lab material usually no more than two configurations are necessary. Therefore two configurations will do (also for the other years) to get all pupils acquainted with the computer. I wrote an article on the courseware package 'An exploratory start with the Basic Education' in the monthly magazine of the NVON (Dutch Association of Science Education) of june 1993. I myself am one of those who drafted the courseware package and the method 'Physics and Chemistry for the Basic Education' of the KUN (Catholic University of Nijmegen).