I teach physics


“The world deploys itself as a game. That means that it refuses any sense, any rule that is exterior to itself. The play of the world itself is different from all the particular games that are played in the world.
The human is the great partner of the play of the world, yet the human is not only the player, but is equally the “outplayed” (déjoué), the plaything (jouet).”
Kostas Axelos

I teach physics. I teach physics in secondary special education, in Greek public schools. Since 2006, I support students with any kind of difficulties in order for them to be self-confided, to acquire decision making abilities and to be inspired from science. Students that can follow the mainstream national curriculum are attending the Inclusion classes, whilst students whose attendance is particularly difficult in other frameworks are supported in Secondary Special Education Schools [1].

Let’s go four (4) years back. In 2012, I was searching for new innovative approaches in science teaching, since the game got even more serious: there was a (still on) debate for the national curriculum, inclusive education was a not well-known practice, we were getting deeper in the financial crisis and I had to support students with a wide range of ages – from twelve (12) to twenty (20) years old – in Special Vocational School of Serres.


Photo of Special Vocational School of Serres.

Taking into account each students’ variability, posters, hands-on and outdoor activities, alternative representations, inquiry based learning, ICTs, metacognition and differentiation was great educational tools and the research for new innovative approaches led me to engage with European projects like PATHWAY, GoLab, SCIENTIX, ODS, UDLnet, iSe. That interaction produced numerous of distinguished educational material, teaching plans and didactical activities on STEM subjects.

Taking a step forward, having in mind also the 21st century skills and thematic learning, metamemory, science theater and integrating the emotional component of learning, we succeed to actively engage our students – at  Special Vocational School of Serres and then at Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki – to a plethora of meaningful activities. The pedagogical framework and practices of the European projects and initiatives (plus CREAT-IT, CREATIONS, Dark Skies Rangers, GTTP, Space Awareness) motivate our students to engage with science classes in order to be creative, to laugh, to see “new” thinks, to see their work being communicated and gave them the opportunity to build ‘bonds’, to share their true thoughts and feeling, to be emotionally supported, to be playful. Here you can see, in short, a few of our educational material and activities we found very useful maximizing the educational outcomes – with our targeted educational objectives:


Photo of Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki.

Posters, are a “drawn to the eye” visual tool that can be part of many lesson plans and, fitting students’ educational needs. For example, students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are strong visual learners. Using this ‘tip’, I managed to teach successfully the structure & function of simple direct current circuits using the “DC circuit” poster below. “Energy” poster is a very useful tool to manifastate work and heat as energy’s mechanism. In addition, “Volcano Eruption” poster was a part of a Geology Class activity, in order to connect a ‘real life’ phenomenon (volcanic eruptions) with the Big Ideas of Science. This poster was created for the Scientix’s competitionMedia in STEM Award” and it was the winning entry for the graphic category [2].


The poster on Energy.


The “DC circuit ≈ Traffic road” analogy. Winning entry for Go-Lab’s “Teaching Though Inquiry” Contest 2014 (4th Junior High School of Stavroupoli, Thessaloniki).


The “Volcano Eruption & Big Ideas” poster (Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki).

How Light …Jumps” is an outdoor activity integrated embodied learning. The activity can demonstrate a variety of light phenomena – e.g. light’s capability to …jump on atoms, in order to pass through a crystal material, just like we jump on rocks to pass across a river. This activity is part from “Lasers & Bubbles”, a top 5 finalist teaching plan of iSe “Light Year Competition” (2015).


The “How Light …Jumps ≈ Across the River” analogy poster (Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki)

Interdisciplinary Astronomy Activities.  Students, in three groups and in rotation, were engaged a) in a unique images presentation of the Cosmos in the mobile planetarium STARLAB, b) in a video session on solar system, space missions and Universe, in the school’s library and c) in tactile activities such as Meet our home and Meet our neighbors and the creation of planets‘ 3D models. With the above hands-on activities we had the pleasure to join the Cosmic Light Edu Kit / International Year of Light 2015 program. After the activities, we did a “small research” on educational outcomes.


Photo from the video session of Interdisciplinary Astronomy Activities (Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki).

Science Theatre. We implement a theatrical performance based on Yio Somei’s book “Jake in the Sea”. Teaching theatre is a way of enhancing self-image and self-esteem of students. Using theatrical techniques as educational tools and help the learning process in a school with students with any kind of difficulties. Through this science theatre we highlighted the values of biodiversity and the environment. The theatre was presented throughout the school with great success and we also participate in “Learning science through theatre” Competition, and honourably awarded with a “best performance” award.  


Photo from the preparation of the science theater “Jake in the Sea” (Public Special Junior High School of Thessaloniki) with Dr. El. Mpaka

The future. The future will find me – step by step, year by year – trying to add “new things” in my teaching (like embodied learning, coding, 3D printing, games, etc), trying to engage as many teachers as possible in innovative teaching and promoting science education. The human right “to science and culture and copyright in the digital environment” [3] and, moreover, “the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” [4] urge us to act, locally & globally. Ten (10) years after my first day at school as a teacher, it seems that the game …has just begun!

[1] Inclusion Classes: students with mild learning difficulties, specific learning difficulties (eg dyslexia), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) requiring support, visual impairment, social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Secondary Special Education Schools: students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) requiring substantial support, moderate learning difficulties, physical disabilities social, emotional, & behavioral difficulties, etc.
[2] Nerantzis N., (2016). Integrating Innovative Practices in Secondary Special Education in Greece, Proceedings of Inspiring Science Education Conference, April 22-24 2016, Pallini, Greece, ISBN 978-960 473-696-6, pg. 159-167
[3] United Nations (UN) General Assembly,  Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed – Copyright policy and the right to science and culture, A/HRC/28/57,  24 Dec. 2014, pg. 4
[4] United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), (2009). The Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications, Experts’ Meeting, Venice, Italy 16-17 july 2009, pg. 5


Article written by: Nikolaos Nerantzis. Physicist in Secondary Special Education (in Greece)

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>