The project developed as an eTwinning project in 2012 and since then it ran under different names and with slightly different goals, involving different subjects, depending on the involved students’ curriculum. In 2015 it was declared runner up at the European eTwinning Prizes ceremony and the same year it was declared one of the best projects by the Italian National Agency.
The project began simply by sharing experiences and videos among students, showing the connections between mathematics, physics and physical education. After that, the three schools involved decided to widen the experience and organised exchanges in the school year 2013-14. In each town sport activities were organised showing their connection with mathematics and physics. Subsequently the methodology of Physical Awareness became problem-based, with students learning to analyse the data they collect. From 2014 to 2015, the project was mainly based on running activities. Italian and Spanish schools organised mountain races where the students could work on different topics, including ancient languages, as they read and translated some texts about Pheidippides in many different languages.
The project has many innovative aspects, as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and physical education have many contact points. However, there are very few school projects helping students to discover those aspects. Usually students like sports more than mathematics and physics, so, using the connections, they can be more aware of the advantages that studying STEM can give to people who practise sport as well (for instance saving energy through more efficient movements) and, at the same time, they can learn a lot about mechanics by experimenting directly with the different possibilities. Moreover, as Physical Awareness uses a problem-based approach, it addresses many of the 21st century competencies recommended by modern pedagogy.
In particular, this project contributed to developing its students’ (a) communication in their mother tongue (active teaching/learning approach and discussion in the classroom) and in English (CLIL activities, meetings, videoconferences), (b) mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology (directly linked to the purposes of the project), (c) digital competence (use of various up-to-date 2.0 software tools), learning to learn (problem-based approach), (d) social and civic competences (discussions in classroom and meetings), (e) cultural awareness (preparatory activities for the meetings, meetings, living with foreign families).
Learning involves the exchange of individuals' knowledge. However, students differ in how they attend to information, how they think about it and how they show what they learn. For this reason, Physical Awareness tries to stimulate its pupils from many angles, in accordance with Gardner's multiple intelligence theory. In particular, the project enhanced their learning experiences from the following perspectives:
- verbal/linguistic: thinking by using words, sentences and verbal propositions (puzzles, group work, ebook);
- logical/mathematical: describing mathematical models underlying the physical laws;
- visual/spatial: practically experimenting with physics laws, gaining awareness of their body in space, strengthening their learning process from a learning-by-doing perspective;
- kinaesthetic: learning physics laws and mathematical models by practising sport;
- affective/mood: becoming a stronger group through playing on the beach, running in the mountains or sailing with their mates;
- interpersonal: learning within a multicultural environment that stimulated the European consciousness and the discovery of different cultures. Working in international groups they learned tolerance, developed social skills and became able to work at a distance with sometimes unknown people.