Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana - Vol. 45/2018

What has Darwin to do with honey? A learning sequence on volcanoes and earthquakes in middle school

Fabio Pieraccioni (1,2), Barbara Finato (3), Elena Bonaccorsi (1) & Anna Gioncada (1)
(1) Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa, Via Santa Maria, 53, 50126, Pisa, Italy. (2) PhD Tuscany School - Earth Sciences XXX Cycle, Via Santa Maria, 53, 50126, Pisa, Italy. (3) Istituto Comprensivo F. Sacchetti, Largo Malaguzzi, 9, 56028, San Miniato (PI), Italy. Corresponding author e-mail:

Volume: 45/2018
Pages: 44-48


This contribution regards a learning sequence about volcanoes and earthquakes. Students, up to graduated levels, have got misconceptions about these phenomena; therefore, on the basis of the constructivist learning theory, the learning sequence started from the pupils' knowledge about the effects of these natural events to get insight into their causes. We used videos and common material such as ketchup, honey, oil and water to engage pupils through their observations and then to investigate the causes of geological features of our planet. In this travel, they were virtually accompanied by Charles Robert Darwin. The development of the thought of pupils during the learning sequence about volcanoes and earthquakes was monitored during and after the learning sequence. Our results indicate that these teaching approaches stimulate pupils to revise, improve and complete their former conceptions about volcanoes and earthquakes and to build their consciousness of the value of risk reduction.


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