On October 27, 2021, from 19:30 to 21:00, the SSI-L Project team of Beijing Normal University held an online seminar to discuss the feasibility of newly developed SSI-L projects of six primary schools and gave suggestions. Teacher CAO Chunhao, the principal of the primary school section of SSI-L project team and special-grade science teacher of Tongzhou District Teaching and Research Center in Beijing, hosted the meeting. Dr. LIN Jing, the SSI-L project leader, and Director of the Science Improvement Department of China Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality, Teacher PENG Menghua, the director of SSI-L project expert team and the special grade teacher of The Second High School affiliated to Beijing Normal University attended the seminar.
AI Qiushi from the Affiliated Primary School of Beijing Petroleum University, introduced their SSI-L project “How to design a healthy weekend menu?” Teacher AI mainly explained the health policy of “health China” and “national students nutrition day”, the core quality of “health life”, the teaching objective of science subject in primary school “breathing and digestion” and the expected outcome. AI also introduced the activity design and class arrangements of “Investigating family members’ favorite food”, “food classification by nutritional components”, and “designing a healthy weekend menu according to the balanced diet pagoda”. CAO Chunhao pointed out that the controversy of “the contradiction between food taste and nutrition and health” in the section of “How to design a healthy weekend menu” failed to reflect social responsibility and social development. It was not controversial enough and didn’t cause any social problems. Dr. LIN and Teacher PENG said that teachers need to think about the interdisciplinary of the issue a bit more.
ZHANG Xiaoping from Haidian No.4 Experimental School introduced their SSI-L project “Tour Beijing Botanical Garden, get to know the national treasure of metasequoia”. The teacher clarified the social background, and location advantages, illustrated the expected outcome, and explained the activity plan such as “Tour Beijing botanical garden” and “research design and field study”. The link between the school-based curriculum was also mentioned. PENG and LIN agreed that this issue was not close to student’s life. It only showed the characteristic of science but was not a socially controversial topic. It needed to be revised.
ZHANG Yuying from Changsha Wangcheng Qiaokoutianxin Primary School, Hunan introduced their SSI-L project “sky city and wetland development”. She mainly presented social disputes involved in this issue, illustrated students’ knowledge base, the five-star diagram of science-economy-social-ethics-policy, and explained project activities including “data collection of wetland and migrant birds”, “scientific game of whether crested ibis would go extinct and the evolution model”, “tower model building and engineering testing”, “role-play of the sky city”, and “the debate of whether it is supported to build sky city at Daze Lake”. The team also raised two questions. One was “How to evaluate students’ ethic and moral development?”. The other one was “How do you determine what is appropriate for discussion?”.
Dr. LIN responded that the moral evaluation method can draw lessons from the existing evaluation tools. She suggested the team do early evaluation through the way of observation and interview, combine with the ethical standards of this issue, and form a new evaluation tool. She thinks that the project can add more topics such as the occupation of farms, the bad living condition of high-density housing and imperfect supporting facilities, real estate bubble, and the craze of landmarks. As for the characteristic of science, the team can emphasize more on the ecological value of wetland, and show damages resulting from wetland destruction. Teacher PENG commented that this issue is highly controversial, and teachers should be clear about the core value. It should clearly oppose the construction of towers and support the protection of wetlands, so there was no need to demonstrate the details of the construction of towers.
TAN Cheng from the Affiliated Primary School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences introduced their SSI-L project “caterpillar rain”. Currently, the American white moth, an exotic species is rampant in Beijing. Because of the high density of the population, it is not suitable to use the drug to prevent. Under such a social background, the team hoped that through activities, students could demonstrate the feasibility of biological control. This project involved contents like insect development and reproduction, invasive species, and the food chain. It was expected that students could gain knowledge of biodiversity and commonality. They could also develop a scientific attitude to love the natural environment of their hometown and participate in public welfare activities. PENG commented that in Beijing, it seems the situation of caterpillar rain is not severe. If students had no experience of that, they may not be interested in this issue. LIN agreed and also suggested the school find other issues that are close to students’ life. PENG reminded the school to pay attention to the season to carry out the field study at the right time.
BAO Zhenyi from Wenzhou Dalton Primary School introduced their SSI-L project “I am a civilian river monitor”. She mainly explained the water shortage in Wenzhou and designed a five-star diagram with aspects of health-ecology-economy-culture-policy. The driven question was “As a civilian river monitor, how should I patrol along river line and complete a performance report?” Teacher BAO at the same time mentioned student activities of water fetching research and report writing, the core literacy, and scientific concepts and social issues involved. Dr. LIN said that this issue should have the connections with their previous issues of “large yellow croaker” and “marine plastic waste” through the core concepts such as “water pollution” and “water cycle”. Hence, integrate multiple relevant issues into a big high-level issue for SSI-L through association of multiple scientific concepts.
LI Nan from the Affiliated Primary School of Beijing Jiaotong University introduced their SSI-L project “designing exhibition area for zoo”. The driven question was how to build harmonious relationships between animals and plants, and between the biology and the environment. The five-star diagram included science – culture – politics – economy – morality. Teacher LI also explained student activities such as field study to the zoo, designing of the exhibition area, and writing reports and doing presentations. Teacher PENG and Dr. LIN both said that this project lacked the sociality characteristic and needed to improve the design in this aspect.
Dr. LIN reminded teachers when selecting issues, don’t choose those big ones, instead, those issues close to students’ daily life may be the best choice. When designing SSI-L activities, teachers should slow down the teaching pace, no rush to lecture or indoctrinate, and just let students do more independent inquiries which are more beneficial to students’ SSI-L.