On 28 April 2023, Dr. Carlo Vascotto, the project coordinator of MITGEST, delivered an enlightening presentation titled “The Energy of Life” to an enthusiastic group of 45 students from grades 3 and 4. Held at the esteemed Warsaw Montessori School, the meeting aimed to introduce young minds to the fascinating world of mitochondria and biology while highlighting the importance of energy flow in the cycle of life.
During the presentation, Dr. Vascotto captivated the students’ attention by showcasing how energy enters the life cycle and moves through various organisms. Starting with the energy of the sun, which is harnessed by plants through photosynthesis, the presentation explored the interconnectedness of energy as it progresses to herbivores, predators, and finally decomposers. Dr. Vascotto masterfully demonstrated how photosynthesis and cellular respiration, facilitated by mitochondria, complement each other in a reciprocal relationship. The mitochondria’s vital role in these processes was emphasized, providing the young learners with a deeper understanding of the topic.
Following the lecture, provided with needed materials, students engaged in an exciting hands-on exercise that truly brought their newfound knowledge to life. With pencils and paper in hand, the young learners eagerly embraced the task of visually depicting their understanding of how mitochondria produce energy. The results were nothing short of remarkable, showcasing the diversity of approaches and the students’ vivid imaginations.
Through this hands-on exercise, the students were encouraged to think critically, explore their creativity, and consolidate their understanding of mitochondria and energy production. It provided a platform for them to express their individual perspectives and fostered a sense of ownership in their learning process.
Using the opportunity, we asked one of the students about the impressions from the “Energy of Life” lecture.
I liked the “cycle of life” part the most. It was super interesting to learn how plants take the sun’s energy and turn it into food for all kinds of animals. I also found out that there are different levels of animals that eat each other, and in the end, there are decomposers who clean up everything and complete the food chain. – says Alice, age 11.
Even though I don’t usually love biology, I had a great time during the presentation. The best part was when we looked at the slide that showed the difference between plant and animal cells, and it was so colourful! It reminded me of the first time I ever used a microscope, and it was mind-blowing to see all the different shapes and colours of tiny things. I think this is the greatest part of being a scientist! – Alice continues.
“The Energy of Life” presentation delivered by Dr. Carlo Vascotto proved to be an engaging and educational experience for the young minds at Warsaw Montessori School. By introducing them to the captivating world of mitochondria and biology, Dr. Vascotto has not only expanded their scientific knowledge but also kindled a passion for exploration and inquiry. Such initiatives can inspire future scientists, fostering a generation of individuals who will contribute to groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in various scientific fields. By sparking curiosity and fostering a sense of wonder, Dr. Vascotto’s presentation aimed to inspire the students to pursue careers in scientific research, unleashing their potential to contribute to future advancements. Our MITGEST DCs will benefit from Dr. Vascotto’s experience when communicating science to different audiences, including the very young ones. This event is an excellent example to DCs on how to translate complex information into engaging narrations.