GeoDidaLab: a laboratory for environmental education and research within the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheatre (Turin, NW Italy)

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Research and practical activities concerning environmental education are the main goals of the GeoDidaLab, a laboratory founded in the ‘90s by a couple of school teachers, since 2012 led by the Earth Science Department of the Torino University (Italy). It is located at the core of the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheatre (IMA), whose glacial landforms and deposits constitute an extraordinary landscape and a geoheritage site of international value. Over the years, schools from more than 50 municipalities of the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta Regions adhered to the activities proposed by the laboratory. Today, its educational offer includes more than 20 interdisciplinary workshops, suitable for students from kindergarten to university level. Particular attention is also devoted in training pre- and in-service teachers. Thanks to agreements with local communities and schools, new strategies for spreading Earth Science knowledge and environmental education are constantly developed and tested.

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... Digital tools-geo-information, geo-visualization, digital monitoring, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-are allowing new approaches to geoheritage assessment and mapping [31,32], and geotourism communication and education [28,33]. Direct interactions between institutions and users, and the general public or schools, are enhanced, and favored on a worldwide scale [34]. ...
... The Valsesia itinerary permits observations on what was going on around 280 Ma ago, in and below an active supervolcano, which extended for at least 25 km deep in the Earth's crust. Today this area is an open-air laboratory: by observing different evidences (1,4,6,16,20,23,24,25,26,33,41,47,50,58, SF 1), geologists can study the processes that lead an active supervolcano to collapse in a caldera (Figure 12d), after a major eruption (SF 4-IV). The wealth of scientific data and interpretations presented through the stops of the itinerary allows also not expert visitors to reconstruct accurately the history of magmatic processes of the Sesia Supervolcano. ...
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In the 20th anniversary year of the European Geopark Network, and 5 years on from the receipt of the UNESCO label for the geoparks, this research focuses on geotourism contents and solutions within one of the most recently designated geoparks, admitted for membership in 2013: the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark (Western Italian Alps). The main aim of this paper is to corroborate the use of fieldtrips and virtual tours as resources for geotourism. The analysis is developed according to: i) geodiversity and geoheritage of the geopark territory; ii) different approaches for planning fieldtrip and virtual tours. The lists of 18 geotrails, 68 geosites and 13 off-site geoheritage elements (e.g., museums, geolabs) are provided. Then, seven trails were selected as a mirror of the geodiversity and as container of on-site and off-site geoheritage within the geopark. They were described to highlight the different approaches that were implemented for their valorization. Most of the geotrails are equipped with panels, and supported by the presence of thematic laboratories or sections in museums. A multidisciplinary approach (e.g., history, ecology) is applied to some geotrails, and a few of them are translated into virtual tours. The variety of geosciences contents of the geopark territory is hence viewed as richness, in term of high geodiversity, but also in term of diversification for its valorization.
... Among others: "ANISN" National Association of Natural Sciences Teachers, several schools of the Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta regions, the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Geopark, the ARPA-Piemonte Environmental Agency, Ivrea Municipality. This latter is currently supporting the geoDIDAlab (Magagna et al., 2018), a laboratory for environmental education and research within the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheatre, whose glacial landforms and deposits are considered an extraordinary landscape and a geomorphosite of international value (Fig. 1). ...
The researches carried out by the AIGeo (Italian Association of Physical Geography and Geomorphology) members, also in collaboration with other researchers, cover various important topics of the Environmental and Earth Sciences and focus on scientific goals and on the development of educational strategies and applications as well. Topics and novelties concerning Physical Geography and Geomorphology fit well with the indications included in the Ministerial National Guidelines for the secondary schools of 2nd level and in the general goals referred to the secondary school of 1st level, where the landscape is discussed by the Geography teachers and natural phenomena by the Science teachers. In this paper, we present an overview about education in Physical Geography and Geomorphology and some examples of the most recent researches planned and tested for the secondary school (1st and 2nd level) and for present and future teachers.
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The ecomuseum is a tool for the participatory management of the natural and cultural heritage of a territory. In many instances, we observe that ecomuseums define geology as a central factor of their action: adult and school education on environment and geology, collective organization of facilities for scholars and visitors, assistance to field research and protection of sites. After presenting the concept of ecomuseum and offering various examples of good practices in different contexts, we shall give a more detailed account of one exceptional site, where the ecomuseum has played a major role in revealing to the local population the existence and characteristics of a spectacular landscape sculptured by the Pleistocene glaciations: the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheatre, in the Italian Piedmont.
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Various alluvial gold placers are distribuited along the outer edge of the Ivrea Morainic Amphitheatre (AMI). They were exploited in pre-roman epoch and mainly under the Roman Republic rule, as Strabo and Pliny the Elder reported. The Bessa "aurifodinae", dated to II-I century B.C., are the widest mine dumps (10 km²) constituted of rounded cobbles and boulders accumulations and anthropic stratified sandy-gravel fans. All the AMI placers are proglacials, but they differ in stratigraphic unit, geomorphologic setting, age and genetic evolution. The mines are differentiable into exploitations with or without water channels, depending on water disponibility and placer wealth.
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The Canavese Zone, near Ivrea, is characterized by a crystalline basement and its Permo-Mesozoic cover. The crystalline basement is found to consist of granite and diorite, intruded into low-grade metamorphics composed of garnet-white mica phyllite, banded albite-actinolite-epidote metabasic rock and fine-grained biotite-albite-K-feldspar-white mica gneiss. The Canavese basement, therefore, is markedly different from that of both the Sesia and Ivrea Zones. The Canavese Zone is bounded by two tectonic lines, here named External Canavese Line (ECL) and Internal Canavese Line (ICL), respectively. The ECL juxtaposes Sesia Zone rocks metamorphosed under Alpine eclogitic conditions and Canavese Zone rocks metamorphosed under Alpine prehnite-pumpellyite-actinolite facies conditions. The ECL was active, and/or re-activated, under brittle conditions. In contrast, the ICL was recrystallized syn-postkinematically under prehnite-pumpellyite-actinolite facies conditions and was for the most part not re-activated. The Canavese and Ivrea rocks, with the exclusion of the Oligocene andesite, exhibit the same Alpine metamorphic and mylonitic overprint. On this basis it is concluded that the Ivrea and Canavese Zones were part of the Alpine orogenic history. -from Authors
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L'articolo presenta una parte del percorso di ricerca sviluppato presso il Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra dell’Università di Torino, nell'ambito dei progetti PROGEO-Piemonte, che ha l’obiettivo di sperimentare strategie didattiche innovative tese alla valorizzazione e tutela del patrimonio geologico piemontese, e GeoMedia-web, che intende creare un network tra scuole, musei, associazioni culturali e istituzioni governative per la condivisione di prodotti multimediali finalizzati alla diffusione della cultura geologica. Le domande alla base della ricerca sono: in quale misura la realtà virtuale può aiutare gli allievi nel processo di apprendimento delle Scienze della Terra? Come è possibile integrare esperienze virtuali e reali? Che cosa ne pensano gli insegnanti? È possibile strutturare progetti didattici semplici e flessibili basati sull’uso delle TIC?Per condividere tali quesiti è stata intrapresa la collaborazione con i soci dell’ANISN Piemonte (, grazie ai quali si stanno ottenendo risposte soddisfacenti.
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During the International Year of Planet Earth (2007-2009), the Department of Earth Sciences of Turin University and a local Museum of Natural History promoted a project entitled, Understanding how the Earth works: from local situations to global processes. In this context, two geothematic exhibitions on the Cape Verde Archipelago were designed and staged in local museums. The exhibition called Getting to know a volcano in order to live with it was the subject of action research that involved the design of interactive activities and the analysis of data collected during guided tours conducted with students of different ages. This study allowed the demonstration of the effectiveness of teaching strategies in which relevant Earth sciences topics are proposed, like risk and sustainable development, thus stimulating debate among the students. This approach enhances the cultural experience of individuals by sharing it with other people. The aim was to widen their awareness of the cultural value of the territory, and to stimulate a new critical way of thinking about the Earth sciences. These didactic tools were further developed when they were proposed and pursued by experienced museum guides and teachers, who were able to involve not only institutions (museums and schools) in the knowledge construction process, but also families, relatives and the local community.
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The Canavese zone is situated in the westernmost Southern Alps bordering the Austroalpine Sesia zone along the internal Western Alps. It represents the southwestern (in present-day coordinates) continuation of the northwestern distal continental margin of Adria whose relics are exposed in the Austroalpine-South Pennine boundary zone (Err nappe) of Graubünden (eastern Switzerland). Although the stratigraphic successions of the Canavese zone are badly exposed and have been dismembered by Alpine ductile shear zones and brittle faults, the signatures of Early to Middle Jurassic rifting are still preserved in the rock record. Two types of basement, separated by tectonic contacts, can be distinguished: (1) a migmatic basement of gneisses associated with anatectic leucogranites and inclusions of mafic granulites similar to those of the nearby Ivrea zone; (2) an amphibolite-grade basement, composed of amphibolites, gneisses and micaschists with shallow intrusions of Permian granitoids, obviously representing a higher crustal level comparable to the Strona-Ceneri zone of the Southern Alps. A first phase of rifting is testified by tectono-sedimentary breccias (Macchia Vecchia) and neptunian dykes of Liassic age cutting across the Triassic pre-rift carbonate platform sediments. Further rifting during the Toarcian (?) to Middle Jurassic exposed Variscan basement rocks and Permian granitoids at the seafloor, providing clasts for matrixpoor or -free, non-fossiliferous, polymictic debris-flow breccias and for sandstone turbidites interbedded with black shales (late syn-rift sediments). The polymictic breccias are dominated by granite clasts; however, they contain also fragments derived not only from the upper but also from the lower crust, and clasts of fault-rocks (phyllonites and cataclasites) most probably derived from exposed Jurassic fault planes. The occurrence of breccias and sandstone turbidites in the Radiolarite (Middle to Upper Jurassic) and Maiolica Formations (Lower Cretaceous) yielding clasts from the continental basement indicate the persistence of a submarine relief along the margin. The Middle Jurassic late syn-rift sediments of the Canavese zone are conspicuously similar in terms of facies association, sedimentary structures and clastic content to the analogous syn-rift sediments (Saluver Formation) of the lower Austroalpine Err nappe (Graubünden). The occurrence of clasts of upper and lower crustal rocks in the polymictic breccias shows that the two types of basement of the Canavese zone were juxtaposed and exposed to the sea floor already in Middle Jurassic times, most probably along low-angle extensional detachment faults as observed today along the present-day west-Iberian margin. This scenario would match those developed for the ocean-continent transitions along the Austroalpine-South Pennine boundary zone of Graubünden, the southern prolongation of the Canavese zone in the external Apennines, and – last not least – the Cretaceous west-Iberian margin.
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Sustainable design has made great strides in recent years; unfortunately, it still falls short of fully integrating nature into our built environment. Through a groundbreaking new paradigm of "restorative environmental design," award-winning author Stephen R. Kellert proposes a new architectural model of sustainability. In Building For Life, Kellert examines the fundamental interconnectedness of people and nature, and how the loss of this connection results in a diminished quality of life. This thoughtful new work illustrates how architects and designers can use simple methods to address our innate needs for contact with nature. Through the use of natural lighting, ventilation, and materials, as well as more unexpected methodologies-the use of metaphor, perspective, enticement, and symbol-architects can greatly enhance our daily lives. These design techniques foster intellectual development, relaxation, and physical and emotional well-being. In the works of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Norman Foster, and Michael Hopkins, Kellert sees the success of these strategies and presents models for moving forward. Ultimately, Kellert views our fractured relationship with nature as a design problem rather than an unavoidable aspect of modern life, and he proposes many practical and creative solutions for cultivating a more rewarding experience of nature in our built environment.
Physical geography as a discipline is not included in national Italian high school curricula, even though it is supposed to be taught as part of the natural science programmes, especially after the 2010 reform of the Italian secondary school system. In particular the reform introduces the study of physical geography for the first time to first year classes in specialized upper secondary schools known as "licei". A survey based on open data shows that Earth Science textbooks released after 2010 tend to offer a broader range of topics than intended by the reform's framework, which provides teachers ample freedom in scheduling. The data, however, also reveals that only a small percentage of science teachers strictly follow the national guidelines, while the majority allocate a very small amount of their schedule to physical geography. This reveals a minor influence of geoscience in the Italian approach to the teaching of general science at high school level. The new reform even if it lacks of implementing information for teachers suggests that both the importance attributed to physical geography in the curricula and the related teaching methods used need to be improved. This meets the need to increase geosciences literacy in scholar population in order to develop an active and responsible attitude towards environmental challenges and hydro-geological risks, which are a distinctive aspect of Italian territory.
Nell’anno scolastico 2013/2014, circa 200 studenti di Scuola Secondaria di I e II grado (fascia d’età: 12-15 anni) sul territorio della Regione Piemonte hanno partecipato ad un’esperienza di didattica sperimentale nel campo delle Scienze della Terra, finalizzata alla conoscenza del paesaggio geomorfologico attraverso l’uso delle nuove tecnologie e ad un approccio basato sul metodo IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education). Il progetto, proposto dal Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra dell’Università di Torino, si è configurato come una vera e propria collaborazione tra i mondi della ricerca e della scuola. I docenti che hanno aderito alla proposta sono stati coinvolti in tutte le sue fasi, per condividere gli obiettivi, la metodologia e le ricadute sugli studenti. La nota breve presenta le riflessioni da parte dei “due mondi”, cercando di metterne in evidenza motivazioni, bisogni e risultati, focalizzando l’attenzione sull’esperienza di una docente del Liceo Scientifico Statale Cattaneo di Torino. During the school year 2013/2014, about 200 Secondary School students (aged 12-15 years old), living in the Piemonte Region (NW Italy), participated in an experimental experience in the field of Geoscience education. It aimed at getting new knowledge on the geomorphological landscape, by using new technologies and by applying an approach based on the IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education) method. The project, proposed by the Department of Earth Sciences of the Torino University, has been configured as a strong cooperation between the worlds of research and school. Teachers have been involved in all phases, as to share the objectives, the methodology and the impact on students. This short note introduces some considerations by the "two worlds", trying to highlight motivations, needs and results, focusing on the experience of a teacher of the Liceo Scientifico Cattaneo (Torino).
The increasing sensitivity among the academics towards a holistic approach to geodiversity, together with the development of geoconservation as a new geoscience, implies the involvement of society in geoscience topics. The mixture of social values and features related to geodiversity predisposes for the design of educational projects based on experimental and cooperative activities with local communities. Moreover, the first step towards an effective geoconservation action plan is by raising public awareness of the value of the geodiversity. By taking awareness of the spatial and temporal scales related to landforms and geomorphological processes, as well as to Man-Nature interactions, people can realise the “dynamic dimension” of geodiversity and its role as archive of the memory of the Earth. As a consequence, people will be enabled to perceive the geomorphological environment as a system changing over time and as fragile geoheritage, therefore worthy of protection. In this context, during the PhD research, a series of actions have been designed and tested to implement innovative educational practices for spreading geodiversity and geoheritage awareness, by integrating geoscience knowledge, geoconservation principles, learner-based educational approaches, geomatics tools, ICTs, and geoethics. More than 300 secondary school students and their teachers have been involved in monitored educational activities developed in a variety of areas in the Piemonte Region (NW Italy): the Susa and the Sangone Valleys, the Morainic Amphiteatre of Ivrea, and the Sesia Val Grande Geopark. Results based on data form analysis confirmed that the use of familiar, informal, and friendly ICTs devices (smartphones, tablets and PCs) being effective in encouraging students to approach geodiversity, focusing on the topics provided by physical geography and geomorphology, both in the class and in the field. For achieving successful results the use of ICTs has to be: 1. learner centered. It is therefore fundamental to plan their use within a well-designed educational project. In this context, the IBSE approach allows the nurturing of critical thinking and increasing students’ interest towards geoscience topics; the BSCS 5E model proposes steps which are very similar to those already used by the scientific method, thus allowing students to approach geological topics through a process of research, instead of simply studying results. 1. combined with the use of analogue tools. This is useful for showing students the processes which are in geomatics. Moreover, this allows students to discover for themselves the pros and cons of both digital and analogue tools, becoming able to choose the better tool to achieve their goal. The PhD research allowed to bring a new discipline such as geoconservation in schools, and to improve students’ perception of the environment as a changeable system over time, by increasing their awareness of the importance for protecting geodiversity. Moreover, teachers confirmed that students increased their critical and systemic thinking concerning Earth system. The action plan developed during the PhD is therefore proposed as a model to be modified and adapted both in the timetable and in the region visited during the field trip. By supporting teachers in the development of such activities, important results can be achieved concerning geoeducation and geoconservation.
From the discussion in parts one and two there are two main points that emerge. The first is that it is difficult to identify from outdoor education literature a philosophical framework on which practice is based. Secondly, the body of outdoor education literature attaches more importance to learning outcomes relating to personal and social education than environmental education. The purpose of part three is to offer a philosophical framework and use it to consider the relationship between outdoor education, environmental education and the related concept of sustainability education. The paper starts out by looking at the development of western thought and how it has promoted the concept of epistemological dualism's. The paper then presents an alternative framework of epistemological diversity including experiential, presentational, propositional and practical ways of knowing that has particular relevance for environmental education and sustainability education. Although the prime focus of this paper is environmental education it also deals explicitly with a philosophical framework which includes experiential learning. Consequently, it has relevance to other claims made of outdoor education in particular personal and social education.
The nearby natural environment plays a far more significant role in the well-being of children residing in poor urban environments than has previously been recognized. Using a premove/postmove longitudinal design, this research explores the linkage between the naturalness or restorativeness of the home environment and the cognitive functioning of 17 low-income urban children (aged 7–12 yrs). Both before and after relocation, objective measures of naturalness were used along with a standardized instrument (the Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale) measuring the children's cognitive functioning. Results show that children whose homes improved the most in terms of greenness following relocation also tended to have the highest levels of cognitive functioning following the move. The implications with respect to policy and design are also discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This chapter discusses the methods by which the extent of the last glacial maximum (LGM) in the Western Alps has been determined. In the general overview of the Alpine glaciation, the ice sheet extended continuously all along the Western Alps, leaving only the highest peaks emerging, tapered, and branched to the South, disappearing in the Maritime Alps. The total obliteration of glacial landforms, both depositional and erosional, is commonly observed. In the middle Val Sesia, a morainic amphitheatre originally existed at the valley opening, where the town of Borgosesia is situated today. Modern fluvial erosion has removed most of this moraine except for a few relict landforms that are aligned transverse to the valley axis. At the junction of the three Lanzo valleys, it is impossible to determine where the LGM glacier terminated because the relating landforms and deposits have been erased.
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