Energy in Ecosystem (Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Upper Secondary School)

Author(s): Sakari Kannisto, Anni Kukko, Tapani Savolainen (1), Minna Lakkala (2) & Liisa Ilomäki (2)

Affiliation(s): Helsinki Media Arts Upper Secondary School (1), University of Helsinki (2)

Date of publication: March 27, 2015

The Educational Problem

The first upper secondary school courses of Physics, Chemistry and Biology are full of fragmented information and there is no time to expand them into an integrated whole. Energy is discussed in all courses, but from different viewpoints.

The Solution

The solution was to examine one topic, that is common in all courses (energy), as an integrated phenomenon from the perspective of all domains.

First the students had a joint brainstorming session about phenomena that interested them in the topic ‘Energy in the ecosystem’. To promote brainstorming, the joint session included the barbecuing of sausages in the school courtyard. Students formed groups that had the task of creating materials about the phenomenon they had chosen to examine. All materials of the groups were combined into a larger entity to be used as study material in future courses of the school. An expert from a solar power company participated in the process by giving an expert lecture to the students. Open cloud services such as Google document and Padlet were used for sharing and co-authoring all versions of the material, and the final product is constructed with Prezi.

Key Experiences

In the students’ answers to the open questions in the post-questionnaire, The most often mentioned positive issues were learning new content and skills, and collaboration in groups. The main challenges were related to information processing and group work.

Teachers’ collaboration succeeded well; in general, the large entity and the structure of the course was good, and furthermore, the use of digital technology succeeded well. Teachers felt that it is important that the new practices were successfully used for improving obligatory courses and for a large group of students, not only to small voluntary courses with especially motivated students.

However, the teachers didn’t have much time to plan the processes well enough till the end of the process. For that reason they felt that the end was somewhat disintegrated. In addition, the intended collaboration and integration between the courses was too limited, similarly the use of the external expert.

Materials and Links

Prezi-presentation produced by the students in the Spring 2014:

Links to full original document: