Project title: Robots in the Eye of the Cyclone: Students work on robotic engineering and meteorology, aiming to protect Greek islands from climate change.
Team: Experimental Detectives
2019-2020 Experimental School of University of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki Greece 30 Student’s age: 8-9, 10-11
Summary of the project
The appearance of the Mediterranean cyclone in Greece last summer and the disasters motivate our students to create this project, that involves both aspects of environmental education and meteorology science. The approach was based on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) philosophy and combines knowledge and information from different disciplines. The design of the program and more specifically the methodology of the teaching approach was based on the Problem Solving method making it a Content Creation Scenario at the same time. Students were asked to find a way using the collected meteorological station data that they had uploaded at the school site, and then proceed both to forecast hazardous phenomena such as the cyclone and to prevent problems that they cause.
This school year, it was decided to implement this project, which is an innovation in terms of the type of activities and the thematic content. In this context, we attempted and succeeded in linking four scientific fields: a) Educational Robotics, b) Environmental Education, c) Meteorology and d) Algorithmic and Computational Thinking focusing on collaborative learning. The students improved the understanding and ability to predict cyclone activity in Europe – more specifically impacting Greece. They developed a weather station and 3D model to help diagnose meteorological and climatological causes of severe storms. The students studied the data they collect from the meteorological station that has been set up on the roof of the school. These data were forwarded to the Meteorology and Climatology departments of the School of Sciences of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in order to be studied. The students noticed that the temperature and the wind are two variables that affect the creation of severe storms. They searched and found ways of early warning so that the residents of the coastal areas and islands would be safe. Students, teachers and scientists collaborated, designed, executed, interracted.
Actions to help lessen the problem
This project not only benefited our local community but also our international community. In particular, the research process was divided into six (6) exploratory stages. In the first phase, students explored the environmental implications of climate change and its effects on islandic Greece (Problem Position Observation). They improved their understanding of atmospheric variables such as temperature, wind, rainfall, humidity. This was important for the development of the project. In addition, the different scales with which meteorology and climate are often treated were highlighted: Microclimate (1km), Mesoscale (1-1000km), Synoptic (1000km +) and Global. The important difference between the medium scale and the summary is that the summary is subject to the Coriolis force (forced to circulate due to the rotation of the Earth). Understanding the impact meteorological events has on communities is important. The system most familiar in Greece is the ΕΜΥ warning (http://www.hnms.gr/emy/el/), where they use an array of colors to signal danger to civilians, based on severity and likelihood. The second stage explored ways to deal with and warn of extreme weather (Early Affairs). They were exploring basic principles of meteorology and its tools for recording and predicting phenomena. In the third exploratory stage (hypothesis-centered idea) and in collaboration with the Meteorology and Climatology departments of the School of Sciences of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, they studied and constructed a meteorological station for the recording of specific indicators (rainfall height, direction, temperature and velocity, air, relative humidity and barometric pressure) using the Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station kit. The students identified the meteorological parameters in real time and observed during the day the temperature, humidity, direction and intensity of the wind, the amount of rain (https://thingspeak.com/channels/1010145).. These are important elements for understanding meteorology. For example, studying the temperature during the day, they found that it was related to the birth of storms. In the fourth exploratory stage (Exploitation and implementation of solutions) they decided which problem they will focus on (triggering large cyclone waves) and were led to robotics design (with appropriate automation) to deal with the extreme phenomena, using as a source of information the standard weather station they had already built. As this scheme is focused on Earth Observation, the students also used an excellent tool (https://apps.sentinel-hub.com/eo-browser/) . In the fifth stage of the research process, students designed and constructed, with the aid of a 3D printer, a model representing an island environment, in which robotic constructs interacted with the weather station. Finally, in the sixth stage (Cases-Re-Assessment) the simulation was put into operation and a check was made for any errors or omissions. At the same time, this stage offered the opportunity to evaluate the whole design, redesign and find extensions for its implementation in other cases.
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