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Working Group Committees for the Regeneration of the Troodos Mountain Communities

The Rector of the University of Thessaly, Mr. Georgios Petrakos, along with researchers from the Agricultural Laboratory of the School of Engineering of the University of Thessaly, traveled to Cyprus, on 17-6-2018, to participate in the 1st Conference of Scientific and Technical Committees for the Regeneration of Mountain Troodos in Cyprus.
The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Anastasiadis and the Rector of the University of Thessaly, Professor George Petrakos, gave a welcome speech during the opening of the 1st Conference of Scientific and Technical Committees for the Regeneration of the Troodos Mountain in Cyprus on 18-6-2018.
In his speech, the President of the Republic of Cyprus stressed the following:
"I want to welcome and thank the Rector, the professors of the University of Thessaly and the other Universities. It is perhaps the largest group to study, in collaboration with Public Service officials, in an effort to create a decisive and coherent development strategy. "
According to the researchers, Troodos can become an example of sustainable mountain management and development in the European Union. It is noted that a total of 114 communities will be affected by the Plan.
Proposals were made for the necessary adjustments required especially in the Troodos mountain region, in order to provide an effective residential, urban and spatial policy.
As stated by the President of the Republic, Nikos Anastasiadis, an inter-ministerial guiding committee has been appointed, responsible for the coordination and implementation of the development policy in the mountainous region of Cyprus.
It was decided to form Committees with the objective to study the various issues and reach conclusions which will be studied by the researchers of the Agricultural Laboratory of the School of Engineering of the University of Thessaly.
The Rector of the University of Thessaly met with the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Konstantinos Petrides, on 20-6-2018. The University of Thessaly will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cyprus Ministry of Interior to support the Government of Cyprus in a series of developmental actions and studies. This memorandum concerns mainly the Department of Urban Planning and Regional Development of the School of Engineering of the University of Thessaly. A series of programme contracts will follow.  The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Anastasiadis, met with the Rector of the University of Thessaly, Mr. Georgios Petrakos, on 21-6-2018. During his visit in Cyprus, the Rector of the University of Thessaly met with three Rectors of Cyprian Universities with whom he intends to sign memorandums in the near future. The Rector of the University of Thessaly departed for Athens on 21-6-2018.


Collaboration of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly with Universities in Europe and Asia in Problem-Based Learning Planning

From the funded ALIEN research project
According to the Modernization Agenda for Higher Education, the sector faces certain challenges, including the effective development of the students' skills and knowledge so that they can act as efficient professionals with a positive impact on their social environment, the economic crisis, youth unemployment, the need to incorporate new methodologies into learning, the need to adapt learning to the rapid development of technology and industrial processes.
Traditional learning methodologies based on passive dissemination of information fail to effectively develop the broad skills required today in industry. Emerging learning methodologies, such as Project and Problem-Based Learning (PBL), offer significant benefits by contributing to the development of sophisticated skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Problem-based learning is an active methodology focusing on the learner. Within this framework, students develop knowledge and skills following a process of synthesis of solutions to problems that are usually based on real situations. The method offers significant benefits including the development of critical thinking, creativity, the capacity for collaboration, communication skills, inherent motivation to engage in learning, and business thinking.
The ALIEN research project (http://projectalien.eu) aims to design, implement, and validate an active learning-based learning methodology based on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The methodology will be supported by a virtual learning environment that includes a set of digital tools and will allow students to experiment, collaborate, and communicate with an extensive and multinational learning community that includes other stakeholders such as teachers and researchers.
The project is coordinated by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly. Scientific responsible for the project is Mr. Elias Houstis. Mrs. Charikleia Tsalapata is the responsible person for the organization of the project. Seventeen universities from Greece, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Pakistan take part in the realization of the program.   
The research project will transfer the technical know-how on designing, installing, and full support of problem-based learning laboratories, which will consist of equipment, digital learning environment that will be developed in the context of the project, technical support and human resources support, from the European universities to the universities in Asia.
The expected impact of ALIEN is the institutional strategic adoption of active learning as the main pedagogical approach to education. The ALIEN research project is funded by the ERASMUS + Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE) project, which aims to strengthen cooperation between European and developing universities.
From June 20 to June 22, the first project consortium meeting is being held at the Tsalapatas Multiplex with the participation of 40 representatives of the universities participating in the research project. The president of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mr Lefteris Tsoukalas and Professor Ioanna Laliotou will give a brief welcome during the consortium.
Invited speaker to the consortium is Professor Dimitra Evangelou from the Democritus University of Thrace.


2nd Academic & School Year: 30th Primary School of the Municipality of Volos hosts the University of Thessaly

For the 2nd consecutive academic and school year the University of Thessaly is hosted by the 30th Elementary School of Volos as part of the course “Learning Environments” of the Department of Architecture Engineering and the Department of Early Childhood Education. Approximately 20 students from the Department of Architecture Engineering and as many pupils from the aforementioned school worked together to create mock-ups in the subject of “Our school’s library”. On Thursday, June 14, 2018, the students and the pupils presented their mock-ups. Among the comments regarding the event, a student said that it was one of the best presentations, less stressful, while a pupil of the 6th grade remarked that if such creative things continue to take place, it would be a good idea to delay her graduation to junior high school. The atmosphere was particularly positive and the students and pupils posed questions, intervened and stated their opinions in a climate of cooperation and playful ambiance.

We would like to thank the students and the pupils that gifted us with this experience. We would also like to give a special thanks to the headmaster of the 30th Primary School, Mr. Paschalis Dimou, without the hospitality and help of whom this venture would not be possible.


Christos Alexiou to be named Honorary Doctor

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Christos Alexiou was awarded the Honorary Doctorate from the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology and the Department of Special Education of the University of Thessaly.
His proclamation as an Honorary Doctor commemorates his outstanding educational contribution, his active and multi-dimensional contribution to founding and developing Modern Greek studies abroad, his rich contribution to Modern Greek letters and studies and his distinguished contribution to giving prominence and establishing the scientific field of special education as an independent academic field.
Christos Alexiou was born in Sklithro, Agia, and has worked both in England and in Greece. From 1988 to 1994, he taught Modern Greek Literature at the University of Thessaly and organized its Library. As a Special Secretary of Special Education in the Ministry of Education, he suggested and contributed significantly to the foundation of the first and only Department of Special Education in a Higher Education Institution, up to date.


ADLES Research Project: Design and Implementation of Emerging Student Learning Methodologies through Work Experience and Troubleshooting

Traditional learning methodologies, based on passive information transmission, do not develop significant transversal skills such as critical, lateral, and creative thinking, communication skills, and the ability to co-operate in small and large groups.
In addition, traditional learning methodologies, when not combined with digital technology, do not succeed in attracting the interest of today's digital literate students, meeting their emerging needs, and exploiting the benefits of technology in order to link the learning process to learning objectives by enriching learning activities, increased flexibility, and immediate feedback.
The ADLES research project, funded by the European Commission's Erasmus + program, in which the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly also participates, aims to work with teachers in secondary general and vocational education so as to design and implement emerging learning methodologies that contribute to pupils' active participation through experiential learning, project based learning, and problem-based learning. These methodologies contribute not only to the development of knowledge but also to its effective implementation in real life. The ADLES research project is developing a digital platform that offers a range of tools, including digital learning games, simulations, and communication capabilities to support active learning.
The ADLES platform enables students to explore a problem, search for information, compound possible solutions, collaborate, communicate, and develop cross-cutting skills with industry and labor market demands within a wide international community. A first version of the platform is expected to be ready for pilot use by the end of 2018.
In the research program, apart from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly, organizations from Portugal, Denmark, Italy and Turkey also participate. The scientist responsible for the program on behalf of the University of Thessaly is the Emeritus Professor Ilias Houstis, while the responsible staff member is Mrs. Charikleia Tsalapatas. The group works together in the research project with Mr. Antonios Plageras, Head of Youth Advisory Station of Magnesia.
More information on the research project, which is underway from 2017 to 2019, is available on http://adles.eu/.


Acquaintance of the Department of Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment with the people of Volos

The Department of Agriculture, Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment of the School of Agricultural Sciences, in the context of the 30th anniversary celebration of the University of Thessaly, held an informative event on Thursday May 31st, in the surrounding area of the Papastratos Seafront Complex.
The citizens of Volos got acquainted with the scientific objects the Department deals with and were informed about the marine environment.
The makeshift outdoor laboratories offered the opportunity, especially to young children, to experiment and observe marine organisms, as well as to learn about modern applications of alternative forms of farming.


Co-operation of the Department of Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment of the University of Thessaly with the Snail Farmers Coop. of Greece

Volos 31/5/2018
Within the framework of the collaboration of the Department of Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment of the University of Thessaly with the Snail Farmers Coop. of Greece, an information session was held at the School of Agricultural Sciences on 31/5/2018.
The briefing was conducted during the 10th semester lectures of the ‘Heliculture’ course. During the meeting the prospects and problems of the particular field were comprehensively explored by the members of the Snail Farmers Coop. of Greece.


Memorandum of Cooperation between the Municipality of Almyros and the University of Thessaly

On Friday, May 25 2018, the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Municipality of Almyros and the University of Thessaly for the creation of a Botanical Garden in the mountainous area of Othryos was signed.

The Memorandum was signed by the Rector of the University of Thessaly, Mr. Georgios Petrakos, and the Mayor of the Municipality of Almyros, Mr. Dimitris Eseridis.

The main aim is to create and operate a botanical garden in order to preserve the rare and endangered species of the local flora of the Othryos area for which an assortment and a gene bank should be created.

Concurrent objectives of its creation:
- Strengthening the agricultural entrepreneurship in the Municipality of Almyros (especially in the field of floriculture, and aromatic and medicinal plants),
- Creating a complementary attraction to the municipal grove “Kouri”, attracting more visitors of scientific communities, students, and those wishing to hold conferences.
- Strengthening the local labour market
- Promoting the municipality of Almyros, the University of Thessaly and the region in general.
For the creation of the botanical garden, municipal land of 14, 8 acres (60 stremmata) in “Tsairaki” in the area Kokkoti, was ceded to the University of Thessaly by the Municipality of Almyros for 50 years.

The Municipality of Almyros is obligated to provide the infrastructure, such as water supply, electricity, landline and road construction. The Laboratory of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture of the Department of Agriculture Crop Production and Rural Environment of the University of Thessaly is obligated to compose a comprehensive study for the spatial configuration, installation, and management of plant material, while also providing full scientific support whenever is necessary for the operation of the Botanical Garden.

The cost for the configuration, maintenance and operation of the Botanical Garden will be covered by sponsorships, national and international grants, and by itself.

As stated by both representatives, the creation of the Botanical Garden in the wider area of the Municipality of Almyros will strengthen the local economic growth, the development of alternative tourism, the education, the research, the preservation of natural heritage, while it will also refresh the cooperation between the two institutions that share the same vision and respect for man and nature.


New distinction for the TALOS Educational Robotics group of the University of Thessaly in the "Make Your Own Seismograph" competition.

The TALOS team of the University of Thessaly (Robotics, Programming and Creative Constructions for Children) once again distinguished itself in a competition co-organized by the Greek-Germanic Education Institution and the Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens. The competition "Make your own seismograph" that took place for the second consecutive year under the auspices of the President of Greece, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, addressed groups of students who, in collaboration with their professors, were invited to build an improvised seismograph and record the whole process in a scientifically documented presentation accompanied by photographic or other audiovisual material. The presented work was evaluated by a group of scientists and teachers and was judged according to the originality of construction, the scientific documentation, the use of multiple representational means of representation and the possibilities it provided for the development of research skills.

The ceremony during which the children and the instructors were awarded took place on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Technopolis Amphitheater in Gazi.  The ceremony was open to the public and was attended by the President of Greece, Mr. Pavlopoulos, and by University Professors, the Director of the University Geodynamic Institute, and the Research Director of the National Observatory of Athens etc.
A total of 102 teams who participated in the competition only 8 were awarded, including the TALOS project team of the University of Thessaly! Primary and secondary students from the wider region of Volos participated in the group, which had the lowest average age in the whole competition. The children constructed the seismograph in two different ways:

• one based on the Lego Mindstorms EV3, a recording mechanism and a tripod. The difficulty of constructing in this way led to a precise division of tasks within the group. The basic idea is the use of two ultrasonic sensors, two axes (one vertical for recording distance data from the sensor and one horizontal in relation to the recording of time in seconds) and two motors for recording the oscillation and converting it into a graph with measurable values ​​........

• The second way involved the realization of an improvised geophone based on simple, "everyday" materials such as a woofer, a 500 gram fishing rod, a 50cm spring, metallic brackets, a mini jack in RCA (to connect the loudspeaker with the computer's sound card). The Audacity audio recording software (open architecture software, available for free on the Internet) was used. This resulted in a really simple, improvised system with which we were able to record the vibrations coming from the ground and by processing the sound signal to calculate the magnitude of "pseudo-earthquakes".

The whole project was conducted and recorded by the children in collaboration with their instructors and the documentation was based on interaction with specialized scientists and bibliographic research. As young scientists and researchers, they have been informed about earthquakes, measuring scales, how earthquakes are created, what is the focus, and civil protection measures. Then, the children participated in the construction of "seismographs" which they later presented. The group's immediate plans are to share the knowledge and useful experience gained by both children and educators through presenting the construction in schools, as well as creating a network of such seismographs and posting measurements on a specific site on the Internet.
The TALOS group (University of Thessaly) continuously carries out educational robotics, programming sessions and creative constructions for children at the former French Institute (G. Kartali-Rozou, Volos). For more information, you can contact talosuth@uth.gr or Mr. Giorgos Proias or Spyros Kourias at the following telephone numbers: 6974007962, 6944965406


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