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During the course of the 20th century the invention of the wireless, initially achieved almost exclusively in solitude by Guglielmo Marconi, proved to be a motor of technological and social changes, thanks also to the innovations and improvements brought about by scientists and researchers in different countries.

Thus an invention that was initially devised for the transmission of telegraphic signals, i.e. in code, soon became a means for sound signals (broadcasting) and later for audiovisual signals (television, originally known as “radiovison”); an invention initially devised for the reception and transmission of messages between two points also became, and above all, with the introduction of circular broadcasting, a means of mass communication and then, at the end of the century, with the advent of the mobile telephone, a means of universal communication from person to person.

It is on the basis of Marconi's intuition that radio waves are able to join the two farthest points on the planet and overcome sidereal distances, allowing, through satellite transmissions, to give way for the first time in history to authentically global communications.

Today, although many people are not aware of this, a significant part of the messages, both personal and diffusive, that we receive via Internet are traveling, at least for a segment of their journey, on the waves of the air. Probably even this one.


















The peaceful revolution in radiocommunications is one of the most extraordinary changes at the origin of contemporary society. Guglielmo Marconi was the initiator of that revolution and its main protagonist both in the late 1800's – in the pioneering phase – and in the phase of advanced development, until the eve of the second world war. Radio technologies had a gradual and complex development and much research was carried out beginning with the enunciation of Maxwell's famous theory and the fundamental experimental confirmation given by Hertz.

Guglielmo Marconi brought electromagnetic waves outside of the laboratory and sent radio messages (composed of dots and lines) at increasingly greater distances. During the course of his long career – of inventor and entrepreneur – he collaborated in the fundamental developments in the sector of radiocommunications, first and foremost with the invention of radio transmission and the success of radio broadcasting.

In the contemporary world the indispensable presence of the radio in all social and personal areas represents a challenge for the century that has just begun, in which information and communication technology play a fundamental role. This trajectory has served as a guide for the planning of the greater part of this section, which has the objective of giving an overview of the transmission of information through the use of electromagnetic waves, beginning with the evolution of a scientific knowledge that has become heritage of the past century, to the most recent developments of wireless technologies. This section offers technical-scientific contents, suggestions for an in-depth examination with an interdisciplinary prospective and work tools in the English language.

A Selection of English Texts








school kit

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:

  1. OPTICAL TELEGRAPH | The past in the absence of wires
  2. ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH | Morse and the connection with wires
  3. ELECTROMAGNETISM | The possibility of making do without wires
  4. WIRELESS TELEGRAPH | Marconi and the birth of wireless
  5. 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.

info schools: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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