MaestraNatura. Sperimentare Salute (NatureTeaches. Health Experimenting)
MaestraNatura (NatureTeaches) www.maestranatura.org is a nutrition education programme in which food is used as a tool to stimulate scientific thinking and awareness of the importance of eating healthy. This project, implemented by ISS (National Centre for Gender Medicine) with the Ministry of Health, aims to promote the adoption of healthy lifestyles among primary and lower secondary school students. This skills-based learning programme is based on a systemic-constructivist approach to teach children and youths the value of food to promote personal wellbeing, as well as a better relationship with the environment and their local districts. Sperimentare Salute (Health Experimenting) www.sperimentaresalute.org is the programme’s dedicated testing area in which a group of researchers, working closely with a selected group of classes, defines the contents and teaching tools of the new modules that will be published on the MaestraNatura (Nature Teaches) platform after being tested in classrooms.
Target: primary and lower secondary school students and teachers
Products: website, digital and multimedia material, workshops, in-person training (for the modules during the testing phase), social networks
The website includes an ad-hoc e-learning platform that has been developed to ensure efficient content dissemination. It has been devised to fully support the experiential-constructivist approach through several functionalities ranging from games to generating experiential activity reports or reality tasks. It is accessible by students of different ages (age 6 -14), enables group work activities and can be used with any device connected to the Internet (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.; no apps need to be installed). The e-learning platform that is part of Sperimentare Salute (Health Experimenting) provides even more functionalities and contents than MaestraNatura (Nature Teaches), since interaction between researchers and participating classes is more in-depth and flexible: for this reason, the system can handle only a limited number of classes.
Digital and Multimedia Material
Contents are accessed through the e-learning platform that has been devised to replace textbook chapters dedicated to nutrition education. The platform includes downloadable lessons and an online “Lifestyles” game through which teachers can give highly interactive lectures, using materials of the highest quality. Also, it includes exercises and practical activities in digital format that enable students to consolidate what they have learned in class. For example, they might be asked to develop a weekly menu, recognize main nutrients in food, analyze product nutrition labels or develop videos as dissemination tools they can use with their peers in other schools.
Workshops for teachers are organized once a year to present the MaestraNatura (Nature Teaches) platform and its tested modules that are ready for use. They also provide information on the experimental protocol that is being tested on new subjects, through specific master classes. Invited schools are selected based on sociodemographic criteria, to cover the broadest possible range of cultural and social situations.
During module testing, the usefulness and effectiveness of developed contents needs to be constantly verified in the classroom. This is done directly by ISS researchers who dedicate 1 to 4 meetings to each class involved in the project. These meetings are useful to achieve greater interaction with teachers and students, consolidate teaching materials and measure their effectiveness directly.
MaestraNatura (Nature Teaches), with its experimental character, is trying to establish itself as a tool to implement Health Literacy and Food Literacy in the Digital Health era, through the best known and most popular media used by students. It was launched in 2013 and is constantly being developed. It is available online and has been used by about 1,700 teachers and 55,000 students. ISS staff is available to present this initiative in schools.
Video presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srF_nnUuEp0&feature=youtu.be
Organization of Reference: Reference Centre for Gender Medicine
Contact Person: Roberta Masella