Fig. 1 Snapshot of the Seminar
At 7:30-9:40 pm of June 23, 2021, the middle school team of SSI-L project held an online seminar in the Tencent Conference Room, where two partner schools reported their project design and course implementation. The seminar was chaired by Zhang Tao, the Head of Middle School Section and the Director of the Middle School Teaching and Research Department of Shandong Weihai Education and Teaching Research Center. It was attended by more than 40 backbone teachers and academic steering experts from partner schools.
Yang Kaitian, from Zhejiang Ruian School Affiliated to BFSU, reported the implementation status of the topic “The Future of High-tech Glasses–A Choice between Virtuality and Reality”. This topic carried on the topic of last semester, which further expanded the discussion scope and combined with advanced technology such as VR and AR to fully arouse students’ interest in learning. The topic is based on the knowledge of optical physics, and students can experience the making of VR glasses and apply virtual reality technology to improve their living experience. Yang pointed out that, this topic contains profound and cutting-edge contents. Therefore, it is important to make full preparation before each class, so that teachers and students can progress together and learn from each other. After the class, teachers should evaluate the performance of students from four levels, including exploring demands, personal experience, brainstorm and prospect. In the end, Yang also mentioned the currently existing confusions: (1) How to obtain the topics that are closer to the students’ cognition? (2) When the topics are far from students’ cognition, how to effectively carry out the research? (3) When students’ knowledge reserve is relatively small, how to balance the objectives of learning knowledge and solving problems?
Qiao Ranjie, from Wanghaiyuan Middle School, Weihai, Shandong, believed that this topic carried on the topic of last semester. They can make a thorough study of this type of topic, so this idea is worth learning from. Regarding the second question, Qiao suggested that when the topics are far from students’ cognition, teachers could prepare with some knowledge before unfolding the topic in such forms as experiments. Wang Zhen, from Wanghaiyuan Middle School, believed that the last two activities of this topic are quite appealing, which play an important role in students’ innovation and development, and suggested that the questionnaire of this topic should ensure that the group has a certain foundation of VR, so that the investigation can be more effective.
Peng Menghua affirmed the solid work done by Ruian School Affiliated to BFSU. However, there are still some problems. First, 3D glasses and VR glasses are different. The VR glasses area characterized with technical difficulty, which are not easy for students to make. Second, the team has designed various activities such as investigation, discussion and experiments, yet still needs to increase the proportion of practical activities of students to make glasses by themselves. Third, the proportion of practical activities should be increased in carrying out the activities based on practical needs.
On the third question raised by Yang, Zhang Tao pointed out that, SSI-L project does not aim to acquire knowledge, since knowledge serves to address the issues. Zhang suggested that this topic can be divided into five parts, including “studying the functions of glasses”, “understanding the functions of VR glasses”, “consideration of economic, security, and ethical issues” , and “prospects of glasses”, which will be consistent with each aspect of the star chart.
Bao Zhenyi, from Zhejiang Wenzhou Dalton Elementary School, believed that this topic can arouse students’ interest. VR technology boasts great advantage in the era of 5G, accompanied by problems such as causing distraction and visual fatigue among individuals, and triggering potential high-tech crimes, which could also be included into the discussion of this topic.
Wen Lixian, from No.3 Middle School of Jiancaoping District, Taiyuan, Shanxi, reported the implementation status of the topic “Misplaced Resources–Campus Garbage”. The No. 3 Middle School of Jiancaoping District determined three parts of content for the themed class meeting: recognition of the types of campus garbage, recycling of waste paper and plastic bottles, and assigning tasks: turning wastes into a useful resource. Taking one class as a sample, the project team estimated the economic value and ecological benefits of recycling and utilizing the waste paper and plastic bottle to fully arouse students’ sympathy and enthusiasm in this topic. Later, the teacher encouraged students to participate in the effort in the forms of making handicrafts and fruit-peel enzyme, and consider how to effectively dispose kitchen waste of a much bigger scale. Wen pointed out that, in the next stage, the team should work in four directions, namely promoting the students’ awareness of disposing the wastes at the source, making suggestions on managing dustbins in the campus, setting up a professional community for garbage sorting and recycling, and setting up special recycling organizations. In this way, they aim to design learning activities more deeply and extensively.
Kong Pengfei, from Shichang Campus of No. 1 Middle School of High-tech Zone, Weihai, Shandong, pointed out that, this topic is close to students’ daily life and can go smoothly with the all-out cooperation of the school, which is worth learning. However, Kong pointed out that the exploratory nature of this topic can be further promoted.
Yu Xiaoya, from Beijing Institute of Education, mentioned that garbage sorting is a great task, which is impossible to form a closed loop in the small environment of campus. Yu suggested that this topic can be considered in bigger social fields. For this reason, the team should assist students to think and resolve problems as engineers and scientists do and can design activities such as “proposing a garbage sorting scheme for the society”, and “providing garbage disposal process for factories”, thereby positioning the topic accurately.
Peng Menghua pointed out that, the topic and attempts of the school deserved affirmation, but the positioning of learning should be higher. Peng believed that, the learning activities should train students’ awareness of saving resources and making the best use of things. Currently, there is huge space for the improvement of garbage sorting in society, which should be considered by the students from the perspective of society.
The seminar tonight was summarized by Lin Jing, the project leader and the Director of Science Education Quality Development Department at Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality. First, Lin put forward suggestions for the implementation of the topics in the two schools. Lin pointed out that, this topic of VR glasses is significant under the high myopia rate in today’s society. However, its content design should fulfill the original intention of SSI-L project to develop students’ thinking ability. The knowledge scope in teaching should be limited within the science curriculum of Zhejiang so that the students will not contact the contents expected for students of higher grades. On the topic of garbage sorting, Lin pointed out that the research focus still lies in top-level design, and it is necessary to determine the objectives of the course, consider what activities to design and whether the activities are feasible. In this way, they will fulfill competence-based teaching smoothly. In the subsequent teaching activities, the teacher team can learn from international videos, expand the ideas for the discussions of the topic, and ask students to consider how to reduce garbage at the source. In the end, Lin highly recognized the efforts and distinctive progress of the team of each partner school in this semester, and proposed several suggestions on future SSI-L projects. First, the implementation of SSI-L project cannot separate learning from life, but should be close to students’ life, so that the topic will have a practical effect on students. Second, students must think in the shoes of others in the SSI-L project to arouse their sympathy, and develop social responsibility and moral sense. Third, one of the fundamental objectives of SSI-L project is to develop students’ thinking ability rather than increase their knowledge. The talents for the future should be equipped with scientific literacy to keep in pace with the times, and maintain strong curiosity and desire for knowledge. Therefore, the SSI-L activities must be aimed to develop their thinking ability rather than increase their scientific knowledge.
This meeting was the last seminar of middle school team in this semester, which was a successful conclusion for the seminars held on the topic in this semester. After nearly a year of practice and thinking, topics of each school have improved significantly, and the backbone teachers have a deeper understanding of SSI-L. In the future, each school will work harder to make more valuable exploration in fulfilling the objectives of “moral education”.