A small school in Romania recreated the Eratosthenes Experiment and won the contest among 370 schools from 37 countries
After 2,200 years since the experiment was conducted by the famous Greek mathematician and astronomer Eratosthenes, a school team lead by the maths teacher Ovidiu Geambazu from the Secondary School of Jimbolia has recreated the experiment to calculate the circumference of Earth.
At their respective noon times on the 21st of March the students measured the length of shadows casted by sticks and then consulted the observations made by others at the same latitude. By sharing this data, invoking the properties of right triangles and applying proportional reasoning to angular distances, the students obtained a good measurement of our planet’s size.
The experiment, which took place in the school yard, was documented with photos that brought the teenagers and their teacher the First place at the 2014 Eratosthenes Experiment International Photo Contest, organized by the Department for Research and Development at the Greek school Ellinogermaniki Agogi. The experiment is an activity of the European project Inspiring Science Education (ISE), while the contest was an event of the European project Open Discovery Space (ODS). The second winner of the contest was a school from Samsun Turkey.
„The 2014 Erathosthenes Experiment, developed by our students, recreates the steps made by the famous Greek mathematician and astronomer in his attempt to measure the circumference of the Earth, by using the shadow of the Obelisk of Alexandria at the Summer Solstice date. The “little” difference from the original experiment is that the Greek approximated the distances with the number of steps made by people paid for doing it, while we used computers and eLearning software available on the Internet”, said Ovidiu Geambazu, maths professor at Jimbolia.
How can we attract students to take part in scientific projects?
The Eratosthenes experiment, organized on 21st of March 2014, the day after the Summer Solstice, attracted the interest of both teachers and students all over the world. 370 schools from 37 countries took part in the contest. The schools had to choose a pair on the same latitude, from an area suggested by the organizers and recreate the experiment, providing the organizers with the results of the measurements and photo proof.
„When teaching math, one of the teacher’s goals is to attract students to mathematics and science. By presenting them with this interesting project, the idea of Eratosthenes for measuring the circumference of our planet and the easy and friendly way for developing the activities, I think I have managed to show them the fact that maths is a discipline which deserves to be studied with growing interest, particularly the activities that use the method of project-based learning”, stated professor Ovidiu Geambazu.
Both teams from Jimbolia, Romania, and Samsun, Turkey, have determined the circumference of the Earth by using eLearning tools but also simple instruments like a wood stick. All teams have worked using dedicated tools, material, and online communities in for educational communities in the ODS and ISE portal.
Teachers have access to over 600,000 educational resources
“For the activities of the ODS and ISE projects, SIVECO Romania has a national coordinator role. On the project portal, http://portal.opendiscoveryspace.eu, we have created the Teachers Community of Romania, where we already have over 30 schools registered. Why is this portal important? Basically, the teachers of this community have the chance to interact with other teaching communities around Europe and have access to over 600,000 educational resources, communities, tools, etc. Participating schools also gain an international profile, an area that Romanian schools need to improve. In addition, schools have access to information regarding contests, special events, workshops, webinars, academies, etc. Finally, schools can find support in introducing innovation in the classroom, as well as on issues relating to European exchange EU training programs such as the Erasmus +”, Marius Preda at SiVECO Romania, Project Manager and ODS National Coordinator, has stated.
SIVECO is a full partner within the European project Open Discovery Space (April 2012 - March 2015) aiming at attracting over 2,000 European schools. SIVECO’s coordination team has started to advertise and register Romanian schools, achieving a number of 56 schools so far. The aim of the project is to introduce innovation and leadership in the classroom that combine the use of ICT with modern pedagogies.