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C8 at SciFest

SciFest is an annual science festival held at Joensuu in Eastern Finland. This year's festival is entitled "Power of Light" and runs from April 23-25, 2015. The CONSTRUIT! project has a learning activity (C8) and short term joint staff training event (C11) that are to take place in conjunction with SciFest. C8 and C11 will bring project team members together to evaluate the progress we have made to towards the goals for the first year of our project. We shall demonstrate and review some of the enhancements to the environment for making construals (MCE) that have been made in the light of feedback from the C5 meeting at Warwick in December. We shall also consider what progress has been made towards establishing our major objective (Intellectual Output O1) of establishing an open online course on making construals. Our plan is to use SciFest as an opportunity to expose the notion of 'making construals' to schoolchildren and teachers via a workshop activity.

A proposed plan for the C8 learning activity

For the purposes of CONSTRUIT!, we need to find out whether we can engage school age pupils in playing with construals and developing some basic understanding and skill in making construals. A number of construals, together with several possible associated educational activities, have been - and are still being - developed with this in mind (see Construals and Activities). Interesting as such construals may be, they will not appear to be so to casual visiting pupils. What is more, what can be done 'hands-on' with construals on first acquaintance is somewhat limited, so that the 'educational activities' will have to be quite simple and perhaps rather unexciting. On the plus side, these activities can be quite diverse though - as the selection of construals below illustrates. Taking these factors into account, it seems appropriate to package some basic activities involving a range of construals into an over-arching extended activity that, like an adventure game, has an overall goal. The best term to describe this is unclear - 'adventure game' is probably rather an old-fashioned concept - and (because of the nature of the activities) the age range necessarily has to be 10-15 and 15+. (The other option offered at SciFest - 7-10 year olds - would perhaps have been better-matched to the small-scale game-like activities that we can derive from our gallery of construals, but would not compete with the more whizzy activities that will be on offer elsewhere in SciFest.) A possible title and description for the workshop, described in more detail as a work-in-progress here, is then:

The CONSTRUIT! exploratory workshop ... How do you think it works? ... and how we think IT works

We often use computers for computations based on scientific theory. But can computers also help us to explore our world in the search for science? Our exploratory workshop will give you hands-on experience of an online computing environment for constructing mental models of what we learn through experience, experiment and imaginative thinking. This kind of learning is not just what scientists do in the lab - it is a central part of what we all do in our everyday life. Find out for yourself by exploring computer models you can make and break to shed light on natural and artificial intelligence in inventing and playing games, solving puzzles, making music, optics ... and, not least, shopping.