Implementation of ‘Smartphone and Periodic Table’ (SOI-IT-34)

My name is Andrea Checchetti, I teach Chemistry and Science in an upper secondary school in the south of Italy. I decided to implement with my students the scenario: “Smartphone and the periodic table” realized by Angela Colli. Especially because 2019 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT 2019). I worked with students aged between 14-15 years during a Science class. In order to adapt this scenario to my students’ needs, I decided to make use of the Inquiry-based Science education (IBSE) methodology.

Why implementing this learning scenario?

This activity encourages students to reflect on how hi-tech objects are built and which elements of the periodic table are involved. In addition, it is important to help students reflecting on how to dispose of smartphones. Because their correct disposal prevents environmental issues and encourages recycling.

Phases of activity

Thanks to the material selected on Europeana, students studied the method of systematization carried out by Mendeleev to design the periodic table of elements. Then, the next step was to associate minerals with chemical elements. Students understood that minerals are naturally occurring chemical compounds with a well-defined composition and a well-defined crystalline structure. Using Europeana resources, my students also identified the minerals from which the main elements are extracted. Using an infographic, the students studied the chemical elements present in the four parts in which a smartphone can be subdivided: the screen, the battery, the electronics and the casing. The students conducted an investigation into what can be recovered from a smartphone. The results of their research were published on the school blog.

What pupils loved

Overall, students found this activity interesting. In particular, they enjoyed the multidisciplinary approach of this learning scenario, that allowed exploring technologies during Science class. Moreover, they learn something new about one of their preferred device, the smartphone.

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The featured image used to illustrate this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution. It can be found in the Wellcome Collection.It has also been resized and labelled to illustrate this article. To find the original image click here.

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