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INFORMATION ABOUT FUN SCIENCE GALLERY
Translation edited by John G. Davies
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DATA AND STATISTICS

Foundation of Fun Science Gallery June 30, 1995
Office Pianoro (Bologna), Italy
Postal Code 40065

Address

http://www.funsci.com/
e-mail
Number of visits ---
Current number of daily visits
(distinct hosts served)
about 8000 in winter, 5000 in summer

 

 
Provenance of the visitors to Fun Science Gallery  (%)
USA 50
Italy 14
Rest of Europe 9
Canada 5
Australia 3
Rest of the world 19
 
Job of the visitors to Fun Science Gallery  (%)
Scientific fields 31 (research, technology, etc.)
Teachers 29
Students 21
Others 19


ORIGIN, MOTIVES, AIMS

Abstract: Fun Science Gallery was born in 1995, it suggests experimental activities, it addresses Amateur Scientists and it can be useful in school too. In fact, experimental activities have important didactic functions in making the comprehension of abstract concepts easier, in motivating inattentive boys and girls toward scientific study. The activities also provide the possibility of observing the real world more closely and acting upon it. They promote team work in games. The Fun Science Gallery articles try to revalue scientific knowledge and the real world in the eye of boys and girls, which has been often made boring by abstract teaching.

Birth of Fun Science Gallery:
In 1993 and 1994 the Italian popular science magazine Scienza & Vita published some articles which dealt with the construction of scientific instruments and performing laboratory activities. Not long after, its author opened on the Internet Fun Science Gallery, a site devoted to the amateur scientist.
The site appeared on the web on the June 30, 1995. It was hosted by the CINECA, a Computer Center in Bologna. A year later, the site was moved to Best Internet Communications, located in California. In October 1998, the site has found a new space at Addr.com Web-Hosting Services (Pacific Tech). After the purchase of a domain, the site has this address: http://www.funsci.com/ .

What Fun Science Gallery promotes?
Fun Science Gallery promotes laboratory activities such as performing scientific experiments or building instruments. It makes an effort to supply the information and methods to create fully functional instruments and to carry out genuine research activities to which people might become dedicated for the rest of their lives.

To whom is it addressed?
Fun Science Gallery targets, first of all, the world of Amateur Scientists, boys, girls and also adults who are full of curiosity, fascinated by nature, science and technology. Fun Science Gallery is also aimed at schools and strives to produce articles which can be used for laboratory lessons. In fact, we are convinced of the didactic importance of practical activities.


Objectives of the articles:

According some, our experiments should be suitable for very young children. There are also boys and girls do not really like this kind of things and are only looking for experiments to do in half an hour just to please their teacher.. Other people prefer to buy ready-made instruments.
We have started from a different point of view. Most children naturally want to manipulate things and they are innately curious about Nature. There are many boys, girls and adults who aren't satisfied with very simple projects or with ready-made instruments and love to explore the world experimentally. There are people who like nothing better than a fairly demanding project, through which they can use and satisfy their natural creativity. Something that represents a challenge.. For these reasons, our articles mainly try to inform these readers, those we have defined as Amateur Scientists.

Also we have tried to interest children and those who are less committed. Our projects are not too complicated and do not need special tools. Often our articles suggest projects of graded difficulty, starting from simple projects and progressing on to complex one. So everyone can become involved as much they want. We know that "tasting whets the appetite" and we depend on this. We know that boys or girls who have built a simple telescope, using basic lenses and cardboard tubes, may feel tempted by this success to progress on to building a telescope with an achromatic objective and metal tubes. Each of these steps develops both technical and cognitive skills, allowing boys and girls to make an important leap forward. This stage in the learning process, of acquiring techniques and information, has been well described by Jean Piaget. It brings about improvements in the manipulative skills, knowledge and self-confidence which are very important for teenagers.

Limits of conventional teaching:
The importance of abstract thought has been understood since ancient Greece. This discovery allowed Mankind to make considerable developments, however, it has lead to the underestimating of practical, artistic and technical skills which has important consequences. Remember human manipulative abilities and other faculties bound to practical activity have very old and deep roots. We consider that there are many areas of the brain which control different functions and abilities. Each of them possesses an intelligence and memory of its own. Man is not just a thinking being, he depends on all his functions being in harmony. The overestimation of abstract thought has caused a neglect of other faculties. Teaching has largely relied use of language to transmit knowledge.

Many teachers are used to instruct by words only, so the subject matter becomes abstract and hard to understand. This happens easily with students who have language problems such as dyslexia, difficulties in understanding speech or in expressing themselves and in paying attention. Without practical experience much of science looses it meaning. Young people need to experiment to avoid boredom and the loss of interest of subjects taught in this manner otherwise many of them will arrive at adulthood alienated by science. This abstract method of teaching is ineffective and yields a high number of scholastic failures. It tends to discourage study and fails to promote interaction with Nature.

Many gifted children are below average in their linguistic and abstraction abilities and may be defined as immature. This judgment doesn't take into account that our species is the one in which children’s maturation is slower than all other animals, but it attains a level superior to other species. It cannot be said that an "immature" child will never attain these abstract abilities, on the contrary as the biography of many important scientist, including Einstein, shows. It is a pity to lose these children along the way because of simplistic and hurried judgments. This also deprives them of their natural right to education. Finally, children with educational difficulties are often endowed with practical abilities. An approach which provides practical lessons would give to them the opportunity of learning according their own style which would help to improve their results.


Advantages of practical activities

- Manipulative skills are very ancient and are easier than linguistic ones:
Linguistic abilities have been acquired by our species in relatively recent times where as human manipulative abilities are very ancient and they are performed much more easily. Practical experiments are advantageous in that they call upon more faculties and not just linguistic ones. The students feel like they have participated and this make the lesson more real. Practical activities involve several forms of memory including visual, other senses and manipulative. This provides a concrete link to the abstract knowledge so the whole experience is reinforced.

- Interacting directly with the World is also a way to understand it:
The fundamental principles of an instrument’s functioning are often understood during its construction. You can observe physical laws operate as you carry out a scientific experiment. Later these can theoretically be analyzed and organized. Practical activities are also cognitive activities: they supply the fundamental data to be processed and develop the abilities of induction, judgment and synthesis. Practical activities open the doors to understanding abstract concepts and make learning easy. We can say that knowledge is not really acquired until it is experienced in some manner.

- Ability to pass from theory to practice:
Laboratory activities allow us to interact with physical reality, so using knowledge about the properties of materials, about working and using them, together with the design process we can pass easily from theory to practice. Teaching without practical work tends to produce adults unable to pass from theory into practice. Unfortunately, at school, teaching is often largely theoretical, so when students go out to work they meet problems putting their knowledge into practice and find it difficult to integrate them productively.

- Learning through play:
Practical activities are so well suited to our nature we often do them for fun. This aspect of experimental activities enlivens children’s interest so they will be more attentive in the theoretical phase. These activities stimulate less-motivated students to participate in lessons. Students are often motivated to deepen their knowledge in these fields.

- Working together:
Friends and parents can carry out these creative activities together providing precious occasions for them interact constructively with children. At school also it is possible to organize groups made up of students and teachers together with specialists and volunteers.

- Rediscover the fascinating aspects of the World which surround us:
To know means to create models of the reality in the mind. School often only provides theoretical models of the world around us making it appear dull. We are accustomed to much more interesting models containing images (more precisely "movies" in four dimensions), sounds, smells, tactile perceptions and other perceptions that stimulate our emotions and our ability to perceive the poetry in all things. Our experimental and practical activities promote the acquisition of a fuller, brighter image of the World. Also the Fun Science Gallery articles try to indicate some fascinating aspects of the World in order to provide a more positive image of Science and the World in the eyes of boys and girls. Nature is rich with wonders and opportunities to reflect upon it. It is necessary to rediscover this dimension and to avoid the abstract teaching that mummifies reality. The world is not reducible to its linguistic or mathematical representation and it is necessary to avoid covering-up its astounding mystery with a blanket of conventions and monotony. The Fun Science Gallery articles try to show that our surroundings are not banal and predictable, but that there are wide and fascinating horizons in front to us to explore.

- Towards more balanced learning:
We are convinced that a better balance in education between practical and theoretical activities would have the advantage of stimulating less academic boys and girls, making school more lively and agreeable for students, parents and teachers.

Revaluing scientific knowledge:
Everyday, Science seems loses ground to religious, supernatural and pseudoscientific beliefs, so Fun Science Gallery tries to revalue scientific knowledge in the eyes of its readers, showing it as an effective and lively description of reality rather than a boring one encased in dusty and incomprehensible books.

Promoting a horizontal and free knowledge:
With our article: "Labirinti", we make a connection among science and the other subjects and we try to supply the instruments to liberate us and to become more aware. Currently, this article is only available in Italian and French, but it will be translated into English.

Promoting respect for the nature:
Our environment is threatened by activities which are often carried out without the necessary precautions. Some of our articles try to create a greater awareness of the problems that are plaguing the environment and to promote a greater respect for all forms of life around us. They also try to indicate the methods for protecting nature.

Aims of Fun Science Gallery:
Our objectives are to produce an online scientific magazine for everyone who loves to write or read scientific articles and to carry out experimental scientific activities and also we hope to promote a more effective way of teaching the Sciences.


Data for possible links

If you want insert a link to Fun Science Gallery from your site, we thank you and we supply you data which could be useful:

Address: http://www.funsci.com/
E-mail:

Short description of the site:

Fun Science Gallery explains how to make fun scientific experiments and instruments. It is a page devoted to the Amateur Scientist, useful also to teachers and
students.

Other descriptions:

The site for the amateur scientist.

Do-it-yourself scientific instruments and experiments.

Do-it-yourself science experiments and instruments: the page for the amateur scientist!

Descriptions of apparatus you can make yourself. Make your own microscope or telescope, and lots more!

A collection of scientific things and experiments to make at home. Great simple low cost science experiments.

In this site there are many projects of home-made microscopes. You can also enjoy visiting our Protist Park!

The Fun Science Gallery gives FUN and rather doable projects to entice students to get more interested in science.

An informative collection of scientific instruments and experiments complimented by microscopic images and diagrams.

A useful index to interesting fun science experiments ranging from the telescope to the microscope to human blood cells, etc.

Appealing to the amateur scientist in us, the Fun Science Gallery demonstrates how to build scientific equipment from relatively cheap stuff.

This site, devoted to "fun science," not only explains how such a microscope works - it also gives you and your students instructions on how to build one!

This site is perfect for teachers of advanced science classes. Detailed instructions tell visitors how to create telescopes, microscopes, batteries, and more.

It is a collection of fun activities and experiments such as a glass-sphere microscope, a telescope, a sidereal indicator, a stereoscope and a herbarium. As well as
links to other amateur sites.

Scientific Experiments for Amateur Scientists and Schools. Did you ever want to make your own microscope or telescope? How about making your own herbarium? If these activities sound interesting, then this site is for you!

A collection of scientific instruments and experiments to do yourself. There are descriptions of the experiments and high quality diagrams. If you like the project and
wish to peruse it, you can download the complete instructions.

The Fun Science Gallery is an invaluable learning tool due to it’s simplicity and ease of learning. The experiments are laid out in a clear, concise, easy-to-follow manner and provide learning experiences that are both fun and educational.

Fun science activities and experiments such as a glass-sphere microscope, a telescope, a sidereal indicator, a stereoscope and a herbarium, as well as links to other amateur sites. This page is devoted to the amateur scientist. Teachers and students also will find it useful.

Here you will find instructions showing you how to build scientific equipment from relatively cheap materials. This site is a must for the amateur scientist. Projects include instructions for making telescopes, microscopes, batteries, sidereal indicators, and several other instruments. You should find this site fun and educational.

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