Please describe the project activities you carried/are carrying out and the time period over which these were implemented.
This didactic project has had such success and growing participation of schools, that it has been developed and enriched over the years also with the peer education methodology in a research-action path. There are several experimental evidences that peer education is effective in the field of the acquisition of like skills and correct lifestyle by young people of school age. In 2020 a non-profit organization for social promotion, called ""SicuraMente-young"", has been set up in which psychologists, engineers, physicists and young peer educators collaborate in order to promote safe and sustainable mobility for the young people in Friuli Venezia Giulia. In 2013, we carried out an experiment on the conduct of a crowd by simulating a situation of intense city traffic. After attending some lectures given by the traffic police on the traffic rules, 45 pupils from two 2nd classes of a middle school in Trieste (the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia) designed and built an articulated route path in the courtyard of their school, complete with road markings and vertical signs for walking and cycling. Taking a cue from an experimental situation proposed by Katsuhiro Nishinari of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Tokyo (Japan) and by Timothy Saunders of European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg (Germany), we verified that a route with limited access (outlet to closed path) can generate a traffic jam and the crowd of pedestrians can be eased by forcing the crowd into dedicated streets. Taking the outgoing time of the student crowd from the outlet road, with and without the presence of an obstacle placed in the middle of the roadway, it was found that the traffic jam is resolved more quickly in the situation with an obstacle because the flow of people is divided into two separate channels, reducing the probability that two individuals are close and that this creates an obstruction (example of a counter-intuitive physical rule). Comparing the output times with and without an obstacle where the students came from the route by walking or running, we verified that the speed of the elements of the crowd influences the formation of traffic jams, which are on average more likely in the case of higher speeds. The fact that an obstacle accelerates exiting from a bounded path, and that the increasing speed of the crowd results in a higher probability of traffic jamâ€”important aspects in the design of road networks and transport infrastructureâ€”made students reason about the aspects of physics of fluids, but also about the correct conduct in traffic. Before we started the project ""SicuraMente"", good examples of activities related to context-based physics learning and concerning traffic safety were proposed. From these projects, it becomes obvious that there is a great need to study how the conceptual knowledge of physics can be integrated in science and society contexts, thus, grounding a new way of looking at the setting of both physics and science and society, not evoked by, but based on the fact that subjective knowledge is constructed. The study of motion and of relative motions are the prelude to the proposed analysis of the safety distance, trajectory and position, displacement and velocity vectors are basic kinematic quantities to explain to students. Human reaction time and dynamic parameters of the motion on the road, such as momentum and sliding and rolling friction on the road, have also been introduced in this context. Physics of traffic is a field that relates to many topics connected to safe mobility, too. The crowd that produces a traffic jam is a dynamic entity, a fluid-mechanical system in which physics and mathematics provide practical help for understanding how and why problematic situations like jams occur and what solutions can be found to solve such problems. Many analogies exist between the interaction in the crowds (flock effect, elements repulsion, etc.) and other physical concepts (fluid flow, propagation of shock waves, electron-electron repulsion, etc.). Experimental Design An experiment carried out in a biological context and in a physical context was adapted and contextualized in an educational context. There, the presence of an obstacle located at a certain distance from an exit, allowed to reduce total evacuation time of a crowd present within a room. This phenomenon is interpreted by assuming that, in the absence of an obstacle, many interactions are generated among the crowd's elements, providing barrier effects. The absence of an obstacle near the only exit causes a high number of conflicts among the elements. The presence of an obstacle in a centered position relative to the outlet instead reduces such conflicts, forcing the crowd into dedicated streets. If the obstacle is shifted into a lateral position relative to the outlet, however, the conflict is not resolved . In analogy to this, we assume that a route with limited outflow can generate a traffic jam (of pedestrians) and that the crowd of pedestrians trying to use an exit can be leased up by forcing the crowd into dedicated paths. Materials and Methods - Experimental design After attending some lectures given by traffic police on the traffic rules, some pupils of a junior high school in Triest (Italy) designed and built an articulated route path in the courtyard of their school, complete with road markings and vertical signs, for walking and cycling. - Sample Forty-six students (males and females, 12-13 years old of two 2nd classes of junior high school ""Campi Elisi"" in Triest) took part in the experiment. The path realized by the children consists of a rectangular space of 6.00 m wide by 4.00 m long with a 3.00 m width exit. The path's area is 24 m2 and the students' density is 0.5/m2. The obstacle is a foam-rubber cube. The size of the cube is 0.70 m Ã— 0.70 m and it is placed at a distance of 1 m from the path's exit. Before the experiment's implementation, students were given a questionnaire with 15 multiple choice items in which we asked them to make predictions on the exit times to be expected in the following cases: ï‚Ÿ walking in the absence of obstacle (t1); ï‚Ÿ walking in the presence of obstacles (t2); ï‚Ÿ running in the absence of obstacle (t3); ï‚Ÿ running in the presence of obstacle (t4). The children's responses to the questionnaire were: ï‚Ÿ t1 > t2 and t3> t4 (95% of cases); ï‚Ÿ t1 > t2 and t3> t4 (98% of cases). Then the four experiments were conducted and exit times t1 and t2 (in walking mode) and t3 and t4 (in running mode) were measured with a stopwatch. Each of the four cases was repeated for three times in order to calculate the average value of the exit time. - Results When comparing the output times, with and without obstacle, in the case where the students came from the route walking (first step) or running (second step), we verified that the speed of the elements of the crowd influences the formation of traffic jams, which are on average more likely in the case of higher speed. The fact that an obstacle accelerates the exit rate from a closed path, and that the increasing speed of the crowd results in a higher probability of a traffic jamâ€”important aspects in the design of road networks and transport infrastructureâ€”made students think about the aspects of the physics of fluids, but also about the correct conduct in traffic. Contrary to predictions of the children, experimental data show that exit times are shorter with the cube, both in walking and in running mode. The presence of an obstacle makes the exit of the crowd more rapid because it reduces the interactions between the individuals. The concept that an obstacle speeds up the exit of a crowd is a concept of counterâ€“intuitive physical facts. Another concept that involves the dynamic output of the crowd resulting from the experimental data is that running decreases the exit-time but increases the likelihood of element collisions and thus traffic jams. At the conclusion of the presentation and after the discussion of the experimental data, a second questionnaire with 20 items about correct behavior in traffic is administered to the students. The most significant results related to road safety that emerged from the students' answers are: ï‚Ÿ High initial speed can produce traffic jams (86% of cases); ï‚Ÿ It is not always an advantage to be fast in traffic, especially in tight situations (93 % of cases); ï‚Ÿ High speed increases the risk of collisions (88% of cases).