LONG DISTANCE COMMUNICATION
Drawing from the experience gained in the education sector from years of collaboration with schools and fulfilling their respective activities of research, documentation and divulgation of technical-scientific culture, the Industrial Heritage Museum of Bologna and the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation have undertaken, in occasion of the initiatives linked to the centenary of Marconi's Nobel prize and with the funding of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the planning of a new educational tool for first and second grade students (biennial).
The tool comes in the form of a kit, to be issued to the schools of the region which requested it, and it contains materials and instructions for the assembly of experimental apparatuses, correlated with educational data sheets, publications and videos. This tool, dedicated to the history of telecommunications, allows the user to reconstruct through 5 different experiences the principal stages that, from the first systems of message transmission at a distance, led to inventions like the radio, the telephone and the computer:
- OPTICAL TELEGRAPH | The past in the absence of wires
- ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH | Morse and the connection with wires
- ELECTROMAGNETISM | The possibility of making do without wires
- WIRELESS TELEGRAPH | Marconi and the birth of wireless
- ANALOG AND DIGITAL | The new era of codes and formats
A video (>>) and a set of specifically prepared instructions guide the user, step by step, through the assemblage of materials which consents the construction of: an optical telegraph model, to simulate message transmission at a distance utilizing the ancient “echelon code” cited by Polibio; an electric telegraph, to communicate using the Morse code; a “coherer” like the one utilized by Marconi to receive electromagnetic waves and that gave way to wireless communication. Moreover, with the materials provided, the experiments on electromagnetism conducted by Oersted and Faraday can be repeated in the classroom and a game can be played to understand the difference between analog and digital.
From a methodological point of view, this tool encourages a kind of learning that encompasses “doing and knowing how to do”, by involving the students in activities that stimulate logical processes, helping them regain manual skill and the ability to work in groups.
The kit has been devised so that it can be employed autonomously in the classroom and has thus been assembled with simple and readily available materials, which allow for the repeatability of the experiences proposed.
With the distribution of the kits in the schools that have requested them (at the moment the project has only been planned for the Emilia-Romagna region) in the fall of 2010, an initial experimentation of the tool has begun. The feedback relative to its effective use made in the classroom will give us precious indications for ulterior technical-educational elaborations and for new forms of collaborations between scholastic Institutes and Museums.