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

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Abstract

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). ...
Article
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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Thesis
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.
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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)
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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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