by Penelope Constanta-Fanouraki and George Tsironis
From November 20th to November 24th 1995, the third "European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture" took place. Its objective is to promote public knowledge and understanding of science and technology at the European level. This event, organised every year in autumn by the European Commission, offers the European public the opportunity to learn about the research organisations and scientists from the neighbouring countries, and to familiarise themselves with science and technology in a way similar to the one presented in daily newspapers, magazines, and TV-programmes across Europe.
One of the main presentations this year was the "Deep Inside the Computer" Project, developed at ICS-FORTH, and the Physics Department of the University of Crete, Greece, with the help of the Laboratoire d' Inginérie Didactique, Université Paris 7, France, the Science Museum of London, UK, and IDIS, Napoli, Italy. The project was partially funded by the DGXII "European Week" program. The Greek participation was also funded by the Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology "Open Doors" program.
The electronic lecture "Deep Inside the Computer" contains educational material, mainly targeted to high school students aged 13 to 17, but also to the general public interested in the subject. One of the project's objectives is to present the computer as a high technology machine and to connect its operation with the science of physics. The project "Deep Inside the Computer" was developed as a World Wide Web application at http://www.ics.forth.gr/EuroWeek95/.
The project's WWW pages guide the student from the physics principles governing the functions of the most basic computer components (e.g. the chips) to the operation of the computer peripherals (e.g. the monitor, keyboard, main processor, printer, etc) to applications where computer play a critically important role (e.g. CAT, MRI scanner, databases, computer networks). The material is presented in such a way as to allow, progressively, the student to learn the capabilities and functionality of the browser tool interactively. The material pages were developed using HTML 2.
The electronic self-paced lecture "Deep Inside the Computer" has been translated and is available in three languages: Greek, English and French. The same material (text, pictures, links) is presented in exactly the same way in all three languages. Thus, the participating students in the collaborating countries (Greece, France, England, Italy) can see the same pictures and read the same text in their native language. Viewing the same material in different languages is one of the many advantages of the Web. Automatic translation of pages from one European language to another is the subject of many research teams. This research work will very soon find its way in the WWW browsers, thus bridging the language barrier of the Web users making obsolete the translation of individual pages.
During the European Week 1995, the "Deep inside the Computer" project WWW pages were presented simultaneously to students in Greece, France, England, and Italy. In Greece, more than 350 students were invited from the local secondary schools. Due to the success of the European Week events, this program will be repeated in 1996. Pupils from secondary schools in Crete and Athens will be invited. The existing material will be enriched with more information and links.