Learning environments

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ACTIVITY 5.2.2 Young People and Science

European Commission Science in Society program



Land to the fog, fly to learning

Original design team: University of Thessaly

Intended student ages: 10-12 years old

Languages of the LE: Greek, English, Dutch

Length of the enactment: 12, 90-minute lessons

Topics covered: Physics



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Scenario: The “fog” learning environment has as driving question the following: “How can we control fog in a specific part of an area where fogs are common so that a helicopter can land for emergency reasons?”.  Students are introduced to the driving question through the following scenario: Fog punishes the one who looks down on it! Its last victim was John Beaver, a young Physicist. The unfortunate young lad was responsible for finding ways to eliminate fog in selected spots, suitable for the landing of medical helicopters, in the plain of Thessaly. Due to thick fog he ended up in a ditch by the road. He finally survived with two fractured bones and a concussion. The doctors have prescribed “not too much thinking” for him for 3 months. However, his contract with the prefecture of Thessaly obliges him to complete his research project within two months; otherwise he is in danger to be finned. You have the mission to complete the task that John has taken on himself so that he is not finned. From his part you’ll have two pages from his notebook that were found in the place of the accident, to help you with your mission.

After this point students embark in the adventure of inquiry. We have paid attention to the cover story so that the students have to continue a story already in progress. We use phases of the narrative as ways to organize the information we want to present (the burnt notebook of the hero works also as modeling for a way of thinking and working, his notes are at the same time the presentation of the structure of the fog while his discussions with a fellow scientist are also presentations of the molecular explanation of evaporation and condensation).

Our goal is to have students construct mechanistic explanations of evaporation and condensation in specific contexts, that is, they construct stories with temporal and spatial details having as heroes those proposed by the relevant models of physics.

Teacher's guide: Download the English  and the Greek versions of the teacher's guide.

Classroom enactments: The “fog” learning environment was initially enacted in three schools (one in an urban area, one in a semi-urban area and one in a rural area). Based on this pilot enactment, the environment was redesigned in its present form and implemented in two urban schools. The “fog” environment was also redesigned and used by the University of Twente team in order to be used in the Dutch primary school. Apart from the translation, there has been extensive redesign.

Contact information:

  • Dr. Vassilis Kollias, Assistant Professor, e-mail address
  • Link to the LWG website.
  • Dowload a one-page leaflet here.


  • Please cite the teacher's guide as: Kollias, V., Davaris, A., Daropoulos, A., Karnavas, A., Zaganas, K. (2009). Land to the fog, fly to knowledge. [Teacher’s Guide]. Retrieved from http://www.coreflect.org.

  • Please cite the learning environment as: Kollias, V., Davaris, A., Daropoulos, A., Karnavas, A., Zaganas, K. (2009). Land to the fog, fly to knowledge. [Computer software]. Greece: University of Thessaly. Retrieved from http://www.coreflect.org.

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