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RIS report Issue 28, February 2014 -

“Ways of knowing�

Plus: New Money? Bitcoin explained RIS students head to NY for Model United Nations Volunteering in Lesotho for CAS Grade 5 inquire into migration

Cover image created by Flaminia, Grade 3Y, using the Paper app.

Rome International School

Model United Nations

“Ways of Knowing” 16 - 19 Oct 2014 The central theme of the next IB Regional Conference, to be held in Rome from 16 to 19 October, is “Ways of Knowing”. This is an event that will welcome more than a thousand participants – teachers, administrators and experts coming from 84 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It will be an occasion to push forward the level of awareness and prestige of the schools adopting the IBO programmes, through an exploration of the learning (and questions) that new subjects and new approaches to a theme as-old-as-man have made possible. It is also an opportunity for us to begin reflecting on a subject we are passionate about, while we wait for the debate, in a few monthsʼ time, on the state of the art. Surely today we know a great deal about “how” we learn. We know that there are neuro-chemical and socioemotional bases, as well as memory and organization. We have discovered that the learning process passes through imitation, assimilation, comprehension and lastly use and application, involving different areas and functions of our brain at different times. We distinguish between abstract and practical knowledge and these categories also help us to organize our work, to evaluate what is actually rather than potentially produced. We have also learned to appreciate the fundamental difference that exists, in terms of effective learning, between the mere transmission of knowledge and discovery. This has determined a profound change in the very approach to teaching, in which facilitation of the process of independent discovery by the student is very much more important than a method that simply “spouts” information, a method inevitably limited by the teacherʼs own knowledge, which is finite. Put another way, you canʼt teach what you donʼt know. The key word in the cognitive process is therefore “learning” and this requires the active participation of the learner to go beyond the confines of the class and the curriculum. Obviously, with the impassioned guidance of a new kind of teacher, who besides competence in the subject, must also be a facilitator, carefully supplying solid bases of reference, and preventing the learner from getting side-tracked by overly personal interests. IVANO BORAGINE HEAD OF SCHOOL


RIS   students   are   taking   part   in   the   Na1onal   High   School   Model   United   Na1ons,  the   world’s   largest   UN   simula1on   for   high   school   students  that  will  be  held  in  New  York  this  March.  

ver   the  last   few  months,  RIS   s t u d e n t s   h a v e   h a d   a n   exci8ng   8me   preparing   for   their   first   Model  United   Na8ons,   in   collabora8on  with  Consules,  an  NGO   that   helps   to   coordinate   the   programme  in  Italy  .  


This   conference   is   aFended   every   year   by   about   3,000   students  from   all   over   the   world.   Par8cipants   engage   in   a  dynamic   debate   on  all   the   topics   currently   on   the   UN   agenda,   from   human   rights   to   m i l i t a r y   c o n fl i c t s   u p   t o   t h e   protec8on  of  the  environment.  Each   student   takes   on   the   role   of   the   ambassador   of   a  UN   member   state   a n d   n e g o 8 a t e s   w i t h   o t h e r   colleagues   to   reach   an   agreement   on  crucial  issues  for  our  future.

Lorenzo   De   Paola,   Federico   Tata   (Grade  11) Economic   and   Financial  Commi+ee   (ECOFIN)   Alfredo  Coppola  (Grade  12) Social,   Humanitarian   &   Cultural   Commi+ee  (SOCHUM)   Saverio  Smorto  (Grade  12),  Gianluca   Paradiso  (Grade  11) During   the   first   two   sessions   the   students   received   their   topics   and   were  given  an  introduc8on  on  how   to   write  posi8on  papers.  They   were   briefed   on   the   United   Na8ons   Millennium   Goals   for   2015   and  had   prac8ce   sessions   on   "English   for   I n t e r n a 1 o n a l   A ff a i r s   a n d   Diplomacy".

Our   students   are   delegates   of   the   Republic   of   Seychelles   and   have   been   assigned   to   the   following   CommiFees:

Everyone   enjoyed   Professor   Toll's   session  on  'Introducing   a  Surprising   fact'   and   being   trained   on   how   to   deliver  a  speech  in  two  minutes!

Legal  Commi+ee Carlo  Alberto  Campolo,  Ernesto  Solis   Del  Rio  (Grade  12)

D u r i n g   t h e   n e x t   w e e k s ,   o u r   delegates   will   be   preparing   and   finalising   their   Posi8on   Papers  and   their  Opening  Speeches.

Special  Poli0cal  and  Decoloniza0on   Commi+ee  (SPECPOL) Sonia  Vallocchia  (Grade  12),   Wendy   Afoekelu  (Grade  11) Disarmament   and   Interna0onal   Security  (DISEC)  

Students   will   depart   for   the   conference  in   New  York  on  Monday   3  March.  We  wish  them  all  success! LAILA EL SHEIKH MUN COORDINATOR



io t c e



Imagining the future

Nelson Mandela Mandela is a hero who has changed the world with his words and actions. BY

admire  Nelson  Mandela  because   he   is   one   of   very   few   people   who   stood   for   what  he   believed   to   be   right   even   though   he   had   a   lot   of   obstacles   preven0ng   him   from   accomplishing  his  goals.


Mandela  is  a  man  to  be  admired   not     only   because   of   his   struggle   for   equality   but   also   for   his   love   of   educa8on   and   ability   to   encourage   forgiveness.   He   sought   to   advance     reconcilia8on   in   South   Africa,   a   country   that   had  been  divided  thanks   to   apartheid.   In   fact,   when   he   was   awarded   the   Nobel   Peace   Prize   in   1993,   he   “shared   the   Prize   with   the   man  who  had  released  him,  President   Frederik  Willem  de  Klerk,  because  they   had  agreed  on  a  peaceful  transi8on  to   majority  rule.”(1) Un8l  his  death  in   December   2013,    he   remained   a   devoted   champion   for   peace   and   social   jus8ce   in   his   own   na8on  and  around  the  world.


Did you know? Mandela had a passion for boxing. As he states in his biography: “I did not like the violence of boxing. I was more interested in the science of it - how you move your body to protect yourself, how you use a plan to attack and retreat, and how you pace yourself through a fight." His membership of the African National Congress meant that he was kept on the US terror watch list until 2008! His inspiration while he was in prison, was William Ernest Henley's "Invictus", a poem about never giving up.

Source: world/africa/nelson-mandelasurprising-facts/

(1)   hFp:// laureates/1993/mandela-­‐facts.html  

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

It is always tempting to view space (and particularly space travel) as a form of metaphor or symbol. One definition of science fiction for example is that it is really a narrative of our own times, a representation of current issues and conflicts simply cast in a symbolic futuristic ‘other’. A device like this allows us to explore social problems (and fears) at a ‘safe distance’ from our own actual lives. However, in reality space travel is much more about imagining the future than finding responses to the direct present. In space exploration the ability to see new possibilities ahead, to imagine and to ‘dare’ seem to be the most important attributes. These things take courage. During the relatively recent landing on Mars, NASA talked about its ‘seven minutes of terror’(1), as they tried a complicated multi-million dollar procedure for the very first time. The issue is that the more new techniques you try, the more danger there is of failure…but also of course of discovery. The latest daring attempt to ‘awaken’ the sleeping satellite Rosetta and attach it to a passing comet(2) is a startling example of science and engineering...but also of the imagination. Perhaps this is really what space represents for us, a physical manifestation of possibility, of risk-taking and of pursuing the ‘impossible’. As Stuart Clark in the Guardian newspaper puts it, ‘In space, simple is always the preferred option but in the quest for better science, risks have to be taken...and sometimes fortune favours the bold.’ (3) In the field of education this also seems true. It would be easy to always stick to the same approaches and techniques that we are familiar and comfortable with. However, for teachers and students equally, sometimes there is a need to take a risk. New concepts in learning are sometimes met with reserve, if not hostility blended learning, independent learning, flipped classrooms, experiential learning, service learning, the virtual classroom - all of these present new exciting possibilities for education although not of course without risk. But if our aim is to create bold, independent and enquiring students then it has to be a risk worth taking. Perhaps we can expand our ‘learning universe’ by trying new techniques and strategies, by exploring the possibilities offered beyond the classroom environment. Then maybe we can ask students at the end of the school day not just ‘what did you learn today’ but also ‘what did you discover today’’. (1) See the video at index.cfm?v=49

Nelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013

(2)   for   full   detaisl   see   the   Europaen   Space   Agencies   webpage   at   hFp:// (3)   hFp://­‐the-­‐universe/2012/aug/03/ mars-­‐curiosity-­‐rover-­‐nasa-­‐gale-­‐crater  



Volunteering  in  Lesotho   for  the  Themba  Project BY KAMO


uring  the  first  weeks  of   December   as  

paying   for   all   of   his   health   care   and  

I   was  preparing   to  leave  for  Lesotho,  


a  small  country  surrounded  by   South  

To  start  with,  Mr.   Mohua  introduced  me  to  

Africa,  Ms.  Brunet,  my  CAS  teacher  spoke  to  

a   group   of   single   mothers.   These   are  

me   about   a   development   project   in  

women   who   formed   a   group,   helping   to  

Mafeteng,  Ha  Ramohapi.   This  project  is   an   ini8a8ve   of   the   Themba   Development  

clean   schoolyards   without   pay.   They   also   try   to   establish   small   ini8a8ves   to   raise  

Project  which  is  a  registered  humanitarian-­‐

funds   for   themselves  and   their   families,  as  

aid   and   development   organisa8on   that  

all  of   them   are  unemployed.   I   then  met   a  

works   at   the   grass   roots   level   to   assist  

group   of   older   women   who   do   the   same  

chronically  poor  people  in  South   Africa  and  

type   of   work   at   churchyards.   I   was   then  

Lesotho.   Themba   basically   works   to  

taken  to  the  field  where  another  group  was  

empower   residents   to  take   charge   of   their  

plan8ng   trees   whose   seeds   had   been  

own   development,   addressing   poverty,  

provided  by   the   government.  That  is  where  

food   security,   skills   development,   and  

I   spent   most   of   my   8me.   I   was   also  

e d u c a 8 o n   t h r o u g h   c o m m u n i t y   l e d   development  approaches.  1  

introduced   to  a  couple  of  other  groups  who   basically   did   all   they   could   to   ensure   their  

My   par8cipa8on   in   the  project   helped   me  

self-­‐development   in   order   to   escape   from  

to   learn   more   about   the   project   whilst  

poverty   and   I   was   happy   to   have   worked  

carrying   out   service   ac8vi8es   to   help  

with  them  as  well.

consolidate   my   CAS   hours,   an   essen8al  

I   was   touched   by   how   people   in   less  

requirement  of  the  IB  Diploma  Programme.  

developed   countries   live.   However,   I   was  

My   arrival   there   was   a   very   warm   one  

impressed   by   their   coopera8on   in   figh8ng  

thanks  to  Mr  Mohau,  who  is  the  counselor  

poverty   and   even   though   unemployed,  

at  Ha  Ramohapi.  He  gathered  around  all  the  

t h a n k s   t o   t h e   h e l p   f r o m   T h e m b a  

people  he  works  with  for  a  very  welcoming   introduc8on   ceremony.   He  introduced   the  

Development   Project   volunteers,   they   created   projects   to   support   themselves  

small   and   varied   work   groups  that   had   to  

financially.   I   am   happy   I   spent   8me   with  

perform   different   ac8vi8es   as   part   of   the  

them  and  I  would  have  loved  to  do  more.  

development   program.   Amongst   these  

RIS   has   been   suppor8ng   the   Themba  

groups   was   a   very   sick   old   man   in   his  

Development   Project   over   the   last   few  

seven8es,  who   lived   in   a  household   of   ten  

years,   through   fundraising   events   helds   at  

people,  none  of   which  were  employed.  The  

school.  Learn   more  about  this  organisa8on  

community   of   Ha   Mohapi   has   been   doing  

v i s i t :   h F p : / / w w w . f r e e w e b s . c o m /

its   best   to   support   this   family   financially.  

thembaproject/.   Dona8ons   can   also   be  

However,   I   realized   that   their   help   wasn’t   enough.   That   is   when   my   mother   and   I  

made  at:  

decided   that   we   would   help  the   family   by  

1  hFp://  



My arrival and introduction

The old man

Women cleaning school yards

Me planting a tree!

The Mayflower

Explorers This   term   Grade   3’s   Unit   of   Inquiry   is   about   explora8on,   with   the   central   idea:   Explora0on   can   lead   to   discoveries,   opportuni0es   and   new   understandings.  The   lines  of  inquiry  are:  the  reasons   for   explora8on;  what   we  learn   through   explora8on;   methods   of   naviga8on   and   the   consequences   of   explora8on.

Migration n   Grade   5   we   are   studying   a   unit  about  migra8on!  We  have   been   interviewing   people   we   know   in   and   out   of   school  that   may   have  migrated.   We  have   also   spoken   about  slavery  and  The  Mayflower  ship   which  carried  pilgrims.  We  also  had  to   keep  a  diary  where  we  had  to  pretend   to  be  a  girl/boy   whose  boat   has   just   sunk   and   we   had   to   choose   five  


special   things   with   which   we   could   survive.   We  watched  the  Pocahontas  cartoon   film   because   we   wanted   to   see   the   difference   between   this  and   the  real   history    story.   The   ac8vi8es   in   class   and   the   interviews   we   are   doing   help   us   to   understand  the  different  reasons  why   people  migrate.   BY


We   all   counted  down   with   great   excitement   for   the   visit   of   Italian   astronaut   Mr   Paolo   Nespoli   that   took   place   on   Thursday  13   February.   Mr   Nespoli   treated   our   students   to   a   talk   on   the   importance   of   explora8on   and   the   reasons   for   going   into   space.   Some   of   our   students   also   par8cipated   in   a   demonstra8on   of   what   it   feels   like   to   take   off   in   a   space   shuFle!   Mr   Nespoli’s   inspiring   talk   served   to   underline   how   each   of   us   are   explorers   in   our   own   way.   Grade   3   were   also   very   lucky   to   enjoy   a   presenta8on   from   another   famous   speaker   who   discussed   his   life’s   work   in   underwater   explora8on.   Mr  Alberto   Luca   Recchi,  is   a  former   RIS  parent  and  a   talented   journalist,   photographer   and   documentary   film   maker.   He   spoke   about   the   different   layers   of   the   sea,   the   features   of   the   ocean   floor   and   the   effects   of   water   pressure.   He   showed   the   students   instruments   used   to   make   underwater   explora8on   safer,  such   as  his   special   computer   watch   that   helps   him   to   find   his   way   and   a   special   glove   made   of  

On the move

metal,  which  he  wears  to   protect   himself  when   he  is   taking  photographs  of  sharks.  For   his  visit  to   Grade  3   he  dressed  in  his  diving  equipment  and  tried   to  make   the  room  as  dark  as  the  lower  layers  of  the  ocean.   Much   remains   to   be   learned   from   exploring   the  

rade   5   have   been   following   lines   of   inquiry   into   people     “On  the  Move." What   do   you   do   if   you   live   in   a   country  in  a  civil  war  and  your  wife  is   pregnant   and   you   need   to   escape?   Well  my  dad  Mr   Lana,  a  human  rights     lawyer,     helped  one  migrant   family.     He   talked   to   us   about   their   story   when   he   came   into   our   class   wearing   his  work  robes.  My   dad  told   us  about   the  situa8on  on  migra8on   and   refugees   from   the   past   un8l   now.   He  said   to   us   how   he  helped   them   and   the   importance   of   refugees   and   also   about   the   difference   between   refugees   and   migrants.


The  week  before,   we  had  watched  a   short   film   about   the   family   he   helped.   It   showed  my   dad   speaking   at   the  Interna8onal  Court   of  Human   Rights  -­‐   he  won   the  case.   The   class   and   Mr   Crase   were   very   happy   to   listen  to  him.    

mysteries   of   the   deep.   Covering   more   than   70   percent   of   the   planet's   surface   the   ocean   is   the   lifeblood   of  Earth,  containing  more  than   97%   of   the   planet’s   water,   driving   weather,   regula8ng   temperature,   and   ul8mately   suppor8ng   all   living   organisms.  Yet   for   all   of   our   reliance   on   the   ocean,   95%  of  this  realm  remains  unexplored. Aoer   reflec8ng   on   the   visit,   students   shared   their   ‘wonderings’  that  included:  If  so  much  of  the  ocean  is   unexplored,   how   do   we   know   that   the   Mariana   Trench   is   the   deepest   part?   Why   are   sharks’   teeth   bigger  than   whales’  teeth?   Why  does  water   pressure   not  effect  fish? We   thank   Mr   Nespoli   and   Mr   Recchi   for   helping   Grade   3   to   understand   more   about   their   Unit   of   Inquiry  on  explora8on.




Grade 3’s exploration tools o showcase the children's learning and achievements with the iPads this year, I have created a blog where the children's artwork, posters, writing, musical compositions and films will be presented. The blog will be updated regularly and I hope that the children and their parents will be able to use the blog to celebrate their achievements but also to reflect on their learning, and see examples of other work which may inspire them. A comment option will be added and I welcome you to leave a comment about the work which will then be


shown to the children, encouraging and motivating them further. Students have also created pieces of art using their the app Pic Collage, which reflects their learning on undersea exploration. Enjoy some of the highlights below!   The link is: Happy browsing!




Recipe for success! The enrolment period for the new academic year is

The appalling weather meant that my son had to remain at school

underway allowing me to witness loving and concerned parents make one of the most important decisions for their children: choosing the right school for them. For the youngest of our children, this is the beginning of a rich and rewarding learning journey.

until I could work out a way to reach him. When, after hours of chaotic travelling at a snail’s pace, I finally arrived, I found that the children were really happy, drawing, playing, and reading. There seemed to be a feeling of calm, peaceful contentment surrounding them.


It has been fascinating to observe parents carefully examining various classes and aspects of school life, looking for ‘signals’, anything that would confirm that they are ‘doing the right thing’. In their eyes I can see the same questions and thoughts that were going through my mind a few years ago, when I was choosing a school for my own child. I had researched endlessly, looked at league tables, learned about teaching methods, made sure that the library was properly stocked, that technology and labs provisions were in place. I had covered all the angles, checked and re checked everything that I felt was important to his education. In short, I was sure I had made the best choice possible for my little one. It was only when torrential rain hit town with a vengeance, making travelling impossible, that I finally understood the importance of such a decision.

The ingredients that make RIS unique are an ideal mix of international values in a nurturing environment:

- It begins by encouraging the natural ability that children have for creating and for seeing things from different perspectives; - It develops by growing their appreciation for beautiful literature, music and art; - It grows by engaging young minds, helping them to be inquisitive and curious learners.

The sense of being gently directed in their studies, the warm embrace of concern of the people in the school, who are themselves parents, before being teachers and educators, make this environment a special one where children succeed and are happy to learn. BY




New Money: Cryptocurrencies When talking about cryptocurrencies we are discussing a medium of exchange that is mainly used on the web to complete the online trading of goods and services. You’ve probably heard about one of the most popular types of digital currency - bitcoins. But what are they and what is so special about them? BY


Cryptography   is   used   to   control   the   crea8on   and   transfer   of   money.(1)  Just  like  normal  currencies  (such  as  the  Euro  and  the  US   Dollar),  the  value  of   this  ‘virtual  money’  can  rise  or   fall  depending   on   the  frequency   with   which  these   coins  are  exchanged  over  the   internet.   In   the   last   few   years,   this   whole   system   has   gained   enormous   aFen8on   through   the   internet.   A   lot   of   people   think   that  they  can  become  instantly  rich  just   by  owning   some  of  these   coins   and   using   them   instead   of   real   money   since   the   value   is   higher. Bitcoin  is  the  most  commonly   used  between  the  various  types   of   cryptocurrencies.   It   was   introduced   in   2009   and   it   works   on   a   'peer-­‐to-­‐peer'   basis,   this   means   that   is   directly   shared   and   transmiFed   through   PCs.   Other   examples   of   cryptomoney   are   LiteCoins  (Ł),  Peercoins  (Ᵽ)  and  Primecoins  (Ψ).   All  of  these  have  a   different  value  and  a   total  limited  amount   of  units  circula8ng  the   web. You   can  obtain  this  money  either  by  buying  it   with  real  money  on   certain   currency   exchange   sites   or   by   'mining'   them.   Mining   bitcoins   is   the   correct   term   to   use   when   someone   is   earning   digital   money   using   a   specific   free   program   that   you   can   download   from   the   internet   that   exploits   the   parallel   processing   capabili8es   of   computers'   GPUs   (graphics   card   processors)   to  calculate  extremely  complicated  algorithms.   Ooen   processes   like   these   can   take   up   to   five   years   of   con8nuous   calcula8ons.   In   fact   some   communi8es   of   people   have   created   'pools'   that   simplify   the   process  by   connec8ng   more   computers   together   forming   a   network,   which   helps  to   lighten   the  load.  In   this   way   the  algorithmic   packages   are  divided   into  smaller  parts,   speeding   up   the   comple8on.   A   whole   pack   of   calcula8ons  has   a   net  value  of  25  bitcoins  (that  is  then  shared  if  within  a  pool). The  pros  of  mining   cryptocurrencies  are   quite  obvious:  you   earn   money   just   by   clicking   on   a   ‘start   mining’   buFon   on   your   computer  screen.  All  you  need  is  a  computer   that  you  are  happy  is   connected  24/7  to  the  internet  and   always  on.  The  more  packages   you  compile  the  more   money  you  earn.  On  the  other   hand,  these   programs   may   shorten   your   hardware   life   span   since  they   keep   them  constantly   under   stress  and  at   very   high   temperature.  The  

chips   inside   your   computer   may   deteriorate   and   not   work   properly  aoer  some  8me.  An   alterna8ve   to  this   is  by  buying   and   using   some  Bitcoin   eruptors  that  emulate   your   graphics  card  and   therefore  reduce  damage  to   any  internal   parts.  You   can  connect   them  through  a  USB  port  and  you’re  done!  They  will  automa8cally   start  to  mine  for  you. During  the  past  months  the  value  of   bitcoins  have  increased  from   €250  to  €474  (current  value  today,  15  February).  This  is  also   one   of   the   main   reasons  why   many   companies   may   hijack  their  own   computers   to   mine   coins.   An   example   of   this   is   the   famous   company   E-­‐Sports   Entertainment   that   was   accused   of   hijacking   14,000   computers   to   obtain   bitcoins;   the   case   was   seFled   in   November   with   the   organisa8on   fined   US$1   million   (hFp:// But   how   is   this   all   possible?   This   system   relies   on   the   privacy   provided   by  an  open  source  project  called  the  'Tor  Network'.  This   is   a  free  sooware   that  helps  defend   you   against   traffic  analysis,   prevents   your   current   posi8on   being   localised   and   blocks   the   tracking   of   your   browsing   data.   In   other   words,   by   using   this   program,   all   of   what   the   user  looks  up   on  the   internet   remains   anonymous   making   it   almost   impossible   to   have   a   privacy   viola8on. Bitcoin   con8nues   to   receive   a   lot   of   praise   from   security   and   technology  experts  because  it  is  a  unique  system  that  opens  doors   to   possibili8es.   At   the  same  8me,   cri8cs  challenge  it   because   it   can   also  open  the  door  to   illegal  ac8vi8es.   However,   this  digital   currency   also  has  long-­‐term  poten8al   which   can  posi8vely  affect   financial   systems,  individuals  and   businesses,   all  of   whom  rely  on   the  internet  for  daily  transac8ons  and  informa8on.   Sources: Cryptography:  hFp:// Bitcoin:  hFp:// Bitcoin   eruptor   diagram:   hFp://­‐miner-­‐ infographic/   Bitcoin  value  converter  (in  real  8me):  hFp://  





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Look out for the highlights from astronaut Paolo Nespoli’s talk to RIS students in the March edition of the RIS report. Visit our website to browse through the photo gallery.


RIS report - February 2014