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mercoledì, marzo 28, 2018

The Da Vinci Campus and its experience with Susan Fransisca


I knew the MIT at first because of Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher) of Two Men and Half and later because of Sheldon Cooper Big Bang Theory. Plus because of the articles of the Boston Globe.

But...I didn't wait for a surprise like this one. One day I had just received a catholic magazine when visiting  the page of my city  what I read? A student of the MIT was at Umbertide? Much better than to discover that your favorite actor is in the area, or that your favorite band will sing at your birthday, I started to call the school for arranging an interview.

I met an enchanting atmosphere and the desire of sharing with passion what students and teachers are doing. I found a healthy place that I would suggest to all your children if you live in the area and if they love math. physics, or if they want to study languages, because oh boy! the Da Vinci is extraordinary. I don't have other words for describing it.

That night I didn't sleep. To me the idea of meeting a great brain was too exciting. Boston and Cambridge are cities I feel a lot because I established with the time contacts, I live Boston with an immense love, it would have been a great day.

I was living a pretty stressing existential moment and I was so sad and this one was and unexpected joy and a good reason for a moment of escapism and a splash in the unknown. And yes, while I was at the Da Vinci there was a moment in which I thought that I was becoming like a dinosaurs. Lost in my books, with a PC still with dial-up connection it was great to discover what an excellence the Da Vinci is.


In Italy best schools are not private ones but public ones in general and everyone can go proud of a high-school with great potentialities, donating to their students so many tools for understandi the present and the future. A future in continuous evolution. 
 Enjoy this article.

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It's a sunny and beautiful day this Tuesday 25th, when I drive to Umbertide, italian city in the center of Italy for meeting one of the most beautiful minds of the MIT Susan Fransisca a senior student researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, in the city and in the Da Vinci Campus thanks to the GPL, Global Teaching Labs proposed by the italian MIUR Ministry of Education University and Research last October.

Some MIT's students thanks to their preparation afforded to Italy on Jan 8th for "helping" local teachers  during their lessons, sharing  important information with them and their colleagues.

Twenty-one italian public schools involved in the GPL the only Campus selected for Region Umbria called also the Green Heart of Italy the prestigious Da Vinci Campus.

Umbertide is a city devoted to foreigners. More than 100 families are from UK, USA, Australia, Ireland and there are more than 2200 muslim in the city.

A charity created by some British and American ladies called Books for Dogs supports with success a local shelter located to Lerchi. They bring progress and dignity in the structure selling used books, DVDS, clothes, and many other items.

Once at the Da Vinci I discover a relaxing and at the same time stimulating reality.
Happy students, happy teachers, the headmaster Franca Burzigotti tells me she studied in that school, the taught there and now, eventually, she ended up to become the headmaster from more than a decade. She is happy and she can't complain at all because her students, more than 1000, are good people and don't give problems.

For trying to stimulate their students to read much more Burzigotti tells me she created special mini-libraries  points in every floor of the school. "You can see. Students pick up what they want.
Plus we have started the digitization of our library, thanks to the help of 4-5 staffers of our school. Students accesses this service online with our tablets. We go proud of our library. It contains a debate point where teachers and students spend time discussing of interesting topics."

The Da Vinci section of "Liceo Scientifico" as it is called in Italy the most important preparatory high school for university involving subjects like math, physics, presents, I discover diversified branches for every taste.

The "Scientifico" passes through the Cambridge course, to the linguistic or socio-economical course, but students can also "pick up" human sciences or applied sciences.

Another part of the Campus is dedicated at the ITI where students are formed for working directly after the high school with efficiency if they don't want to go to the university and branches in this case are mechatronics and energy.

The IPC's branches are Computer Science and linguistic.

I visit the Labs where Susan spends her days with teachers and students with Giuseppe Giorgi staffer of the Da Vinci and great Cicero.

I see a reality in motion, creation of products, models, ideas, demonstrations of the laws of Gay-Lussac. There is fertile imagination, harmony and relaxation between students and teachers and a wonderful place where to become good men and women.
I meet Anna, a girl with some problems, followed with devotion and attention. "We do appreciate and love her a lot" confirms the teacher.

Ms Tironzelli of the Lab Biology is teaching at some students of the Cambridge course.
"They follow english lessons without troubles."
I ask to the students how many hours of english they attend.
"We study three hours of english, then other two ones with a mother tongue teacher and then we study various topics in english."
I ask to these students if they want to stay in Italy once they will complete the high school.
"No, we want to go away."
Where would you want to go?
"Boston" is their answer.
The teacher, smiling says me that they are enchanted by the presence of Susan, a girl everyone appreciate a lot.
These students during the summer-time spend weeks in foreign countries where english is the first language spoken. This summer has been chosen Belfast. They have been in the past to Dublin and Cambridge.

Scientific instruments at the Da Vinci are new and the best ones. 
I see microscopes with cameras, LIM blackboards  connected with PCs in every classroom so that it is possible to save lessons sharing them later with students.
PCS are Windows 10. The Da Vinci organizes courses for externals for ECDL, the European Computer Driving Licence.

In a Lab there are different new 3-D printers and a plotter , in another a teacher explains me he brought from home his old 3-D printer for being fixed. "It's 7-8 years old. We ordered pieces from China. Look at these ones. Let's hope for better" explains with enthusiasm.

At the ITI I see where prototypes born everyday. The most touching one a little shooting ball machine for a student in a wheelchair with the desire of playing basket ,  thanks to the Baskin project.

Another classroom enchants me with the model of a beautiful little house. The teacher tells me that that one has been a project created by a student of the fifth year.

"Thanks to the structure of the house and these wires we can think at the house in its complexity and visibly. Wires for electricity, water, but also for alarms, and many other options and connections."

Another stunning project the one of a model of a greenhouse . "In this project we thought at the aspects that a good greenhouse should have from water to warm, with the chance of opening the roof if warm is too much. It's a centralized and creative greenhouse."

I enter in a classroom where Susan will help teacher Trombettoni with her lesson. A student is connected via Skype.
"Guglielmo is sick but he choose to follow this lesson as well. Thanks for being with us, Guglielmo."
The teacher explains that with the PC on her desk she follows the PCS of all her students.

Once my tour in the various labs ends I return to the office of the headmaster for my meeting with Susan Fransisca.

A girl of apparently great simplicity, big warm smile, she smiles most of the time, she checks her smart-phone for messages continuously, she wears a necklace with a cross.  I ask if she is catholic.
Followed like a shadow by Sonia Bartocci,  a lady who shared with her most of the time, following our interview as well, she confirms my suspects. "Yes, she is catholic and she also attended the mass two weeks ago."
Sonia continues: "She didn't sleep in my house, she had her own independent apartment, but we shared most of our time together, meals, good Lord she is a robust fork for sure, she eats everything and with great appetite. One day we went to Tuscany. She celebrated her birthday here cuddled by everyone and this past week-end she decided to flying to Paris for meeting some friends."

Susan Fransisca's life has been intense, wonderful and plenty of satisfactions.

She told me that she thought she had a special gift in math when she started to take part at the International Mathematical Olympiads reaching important scores and winning bronze and silver medals.

"I left Indonesia for studying in Lawrenceville, NJ for three years, and then I was accepted at the MIT."

I ask for the atmosphere of cities like Boston and Cambridge.

"They're cities plenty of students and culture thanks to the Universities and you see everywhere students studying. Including during week-ends" she says smiling.

Susan is not new at this experience of student/teacher that she considers funny.

"Last year I have been to Mexico as a student/teacher. In general before we leave we participate at some courses regarding the culture of the country where we will spend our time in, how to interact with students, without forgetting materials we want to share with students and teachers."

Susan visited Italy in the past in the classic tour loved by foreigners: "I have been to Milan, Venice, Florence. This one is my first time in Umbria."

Susan's future is clear. She will become a researcher.

I ask her something about the MIT: "It will be my last year as a student. The motto of our Institute is: Mens et Manus so it says all. It's pretty learning by doing. The atmosphere is academic although everyone is excited for what we are doing."



The best approach for a sunny future.


Anna Maria Polidori

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