Workshop about learning ancient Greek games-toys using digital tools: “Greektoys children’s revolution®” (February 23-24, 2019)


On 23d and 24th February 2019, in the framework of the National Initiative of the National Coalition for Digital Skills, the Department of Innovation and Best Practices and the Directorate-General for Public Organizations of the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction, in collaboration with the Greektoys team, organized a two-day Educational Workshop about learning ancient Greek games, using digital tools, titled “Greektoys children’s revolution®”. The action is part of the National Action Plan for Digital skills, “Digital Skills for Digital Greece”, which has been developed and coordinated by the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction.
The workshop was hosted at the most modern premises of the Maker Space Laboratory, at Serafion of the Municipality of Athens, which is operated by the TUC TIE Lab of the Technical University of Crete in collaboration with the Department of Childhood, Education and Lifelong Learning.
The workshop aims at developing students’ learning about ancient Greek history, through ancient games- toys, by making use of the digital technologies of 3D scanning and 3D printing.
The workshop took place, with the participation of primary school pupils, schools from Municipalities – members of the National Coalition that is, the Municipality of Athens, the Municipality of Vari – Voula – Vouliagmeni and the Municipality of Filothei – Psychiko.At the workshop, pupils had to meet new challenges and seize the opportunities of digital technology, such as:

1. How is digital technology used to put forward ancient Greek history?
2. What is the use of digital technology to preserve the historical heritage?
3. How can children learn about ancient Greek history in the classroom?

Technology becomes, therefore, the vehicle for the dissemination and rescue of ancient Greek games, and it also triggers children’s interest, by bringing them closer to the ancient cultural heritage, in a more entertaining and creative way, expanding their knowledge and enhancing their different skills.
The opening of the two-day workshop was held by the Minister of Administrative Reconstruction Ms. Maria-Elisa Xenogiannakopoulou, who welcomed 32 students aged 6-9, parents and teachers, reminding that, in this area 2,500 years ago, there were children playing with toys, and the children, in the workshop, would have the opportunity to get to know them and print them, using digital technology. Also, the Director of the General Directorate of Public Organizations, Nikos Michalopoulos, addressed the greeting.

On the first day of the event, thirty-two (32) students aged 6-9 years participated in the educational workshop , under the guidance of the Greektoys team and had the opportunity to get acquainted with games- toys of antiquity, to play with faithful copies of spinning tops, yoyos, knucklebones that were brought back to light ,thanks to 3D technology. These games were played differently than their modern versions and for today’s children, they seem to be challenging. But games- toys of skill remain, and after thousands of years they continue to give joy.

Also, the children learned to build their own toys, they were taught and understood the process of producing toys using cast-molds, as was the case in ancient Greece. The children created, with clay, ancient Corinthian dolls and horses on wheels.

However, there was also, a guided tour for the pupils, at the digital workshop of Maker Space of the Municipality of Athens, a unique municipal structure of this kind in Greece. Under the guidance of TUC TIE Lab researchers, the children had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the technological equipment and procedures of the laboratory, so that they could learn more about the construction of ancient Greek toys, using digital and analogue tools (3D printer, laser cutter) as well as robotic constructions. At the same premises of the Maker Space lab, the Vice-Mayor for the Child of the Municipality of Athens, Ms. Maria Iliopoulou, showed the Minister Maria- Elisa Xenogiannakopoulou and Mr Michalopoulos around the lab.

On the second day of the event, the Head of the Department of Innovation and Best Practices, operational coordinator of the National Coalition, welcomed thirty-three (33) pupils aged 10-12 years, participating in the educational workshop and under the guidance of the Greektoys team, they looked into the procedure of the three-dimensional representation of antiquities, especially ancient Greek toys, learned about the 3D scanning process and then shared the experience of the experiential photography, with mobiles and tablets, of ancient artifacts of Greek toys, at a 360 degree distance, in order to produce three-dimensional images of the toys. The children worked in groups and some of their photos were presented on a projector to see how the three-dimensional photography was then processed. They had the opportunity to ask questions and exchange views on the process.
The workshop will continue in the classrooms, after schools and pupils have received the results of their work at the workshop, from the Greektoys team. The Greektoys team will upload children’s work on the “Digital Museum”, in a special unit that will include children’s 3D photos, so that they will have the possibility to have access to them, via online viewer. They will also have the opportunity to print their 3D photos of ancient Greek toys, at their schools.

Also, older students had the opportunity to take a guided tour at the Maker Space Lab where, under the guidance of the TUC TIE Lab researchers, they had the opportunity to get acquainted with the laboratory’s technological equipment and procedures, and see digital and analogue tools (3D printer, laser cutter), as well as robotic constructions.

At the end of the workshop, both days, pupils took with them, as a souvenir of the Educational Workshop, a copy of the ancient Corinthian doll, cut into the laser cutter, at the Maker Space Lab. Moreover, the Greektoys team provided them with some souvenirs, copies of ancient Greek toys. As a consequence, the experience of the Educational Lab has brought children closer to digital technology and ancient Greek tradition.

The ultimate goal of the Department of Innovation and Best Practices is to upgrade the workshop into collaboration, on a regular basis, with the Greektoys team and therefore introduce a pilot project in classrooms or museums, to bring pupils closer to experiential learning, through digital technologies.