On November 10th, 2021, from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm, the SSI-L junior high school group held an online seminar in the Tencent Conference room. In this seminar, 3 schools shared their issue designs and implementations. Subject experts and teachers from other partner schools commented on the issue selection and gave suggestions.
TANG Rui from Guiyang No.1 Experimental Middle School, Guizhou, shared their SSI-L project on “The development and protection of Shier Beihou karst cave”. Experts have raised several suggestions in the previous discussion such as the long duration of research, too much learning content on inquiry learning and lack of understanding of SSI-L and five-star diagram”. Based on that, the team decided to choose grade eight students as the object to carry out the project. The team then adjusted the learning model from knowledge-oriented to a five-star diagram centered SSI-L model. As for the specific setting, taking interdisciplinary study into consideration, the team designed activities such as experiments of calcium carbonate dissolution, field studies in terms of the space, temperature, humidity, biodiversity of the cave, appreciation of famous poems, discussion of the policy and religion, as well as the historical and cultural value of the scenic spot.
ZHU Di from Xi’an Aviation 618 School, Shaanxi Province, said the project had a very clear structure and included multiple disciplines. However, ZHU Di also pointed out that since students could only learn chemistry from grade 9, this part may be difficult for grade 8 students. Other subjects learning such as history and culture should also link with students’ needs.
ZHANG Tao praised that the team had polished the project several times and the change was significant. ZHANG also said that the team still needs to find a controversial point and determine a driven question for a better module setting. As for the content, the poetry section was not related to the topic so it better to simplify.
LIN Ya from Beijing No.11 Longyue Experimental Middle School shared their SSI-L project of “The vision and implementation of ‘Sponge City'”. The issue was based on the failure of the “sponge city” in Zhengzhou, which cost 50 billion yuan, and raised the driving question of whether China should continue to promote the construction of sponge city? Based on the core question and thinking about theory, demonstration, and application, the team raised three detailed questions: 1) What is the main concept of constructing a sponge city? 2)What’s the effect of the sponge city? 3) How to optimize existed cases around you? Training of analytical thinking, critical thinking, and creative thinking was integrated in and those three questions led the whole process of the project. Besides, teachers evaluated students’ performance in a quantitative way.
WU Xingchun from Hangzhou Sandun Middle School pointed out that the topic covered a wide range of subjects and had high-quality evaluation tools. WU raised two questions. One is what is the purpose of building a sponge city. The second is what is controversial about further development of sponge cities. In response to question 1, LIN Ya said that the main function of sponge cities was to collect and store water and deal with flood disasters. In response to question 2, many cities hope to build sponge cities, but controversies such as whether the high economic investment is worthwhile and whether the technology can meet the requirements are worth discussing.
ZHANG Tao believes that the project has many shining points. At the same time, ZHANG also pointed out that sponge city is a macro problem that needs government regulation, so it is not enough to judge its effectiveness only by students’ experiments. Besides, current activities were more like exploratory activities, so the team needs to find out the actual controversial point.
QIU Ziyun from Taiyuan Jiancaoping Experimental Middle School, Shanxi, shared their SSI-L project on “How to keep balanced diet for teenagers?” and introduced a brief idea of their new project. Currently, the school team had completed activities of investigating students’ daily meals and analyzing nutrients contained in the meal and their effects on the human body. However, during the implementation, the team also found that the topic was not controversial and scientific. Its module setting focused too much on knowledge exploration and students also didn’t have enough background knowledge. Because of that, the team designed a new project “Development and utilization of solar energy”. The topic was inspired by solar energy devices that can be found everywhere in our daily life. Students were going to learn knowledge about physics, chemistry, geography, and biology.
AN Tongjuan from Weihai Wanghaiyuan Middle School of Shandong Province praised that the project of solar power energy had a comprehensive idea. While at the same time, teacher AN also pointed out that the team needs to consider the controversial point and the driven question carefully. YU Lianhua, the vice-principal of Wanghaiyuan Middle School, suggested the team think about “whether solar energy heaters can replace electric water heaters” and “whether solar energy can replace electric energy”, so as to examine the pros and cons of solar energy. Teacher QIU responded that the team hopes to dig out controversial points through thinking about the drawbacks of material production and use, and the disposal of waste after using. Principle YU agreed with the latter one.
PENG Menghua made comments. First for the topic “The development and protection of Shier Beihou karst cave” from Guiyang No.1 Experimental Middle School, he suggested the school change the topic to “How to develop Shier Beihou scenic area?” Module setting could include subjects of physics, chemistry, and biology. Second for the topic “The vision and implementation of ‘Sponge City'” from No.11 Longyue Experimental Middle School, PENG suggested the team change the mindset and shift the study object to a rooftop garden or a rooftop court. After the project becomes mature, we can then expand to a bigger concept such as the construction of sponge cities at the national level or even the world level. Third for the project “Development and utilization of solar power” from Taiyuan Jiancaoping Experimental Middle School, PENG agreed that it is a good topic since there are many problems in real applications. To be more practical, the school can change the topic to whether solar panels should be removed, so as to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy and the current problems in use.
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 summarized today’s seminar. First of all, LIN pointed out that, in the first one or two years after initiating SSI-L project, the main task for the project team is to polish and modify the task times by times. Today’s seminar has a good atmosphere that we prepared lessons together. Hopefully, in the future, teachers can continue thinking and discussing actively. Besides, LIN also made suggestions on some issues. For the project of Shier Beihou karst cave, she thinks that the project is meaningful, but we still need to complete the five-star diagram. In the future, we expect the team to talk more specifically and raise more questions for discussion. As for the project of “Sponge City” from No.11 Longyue Experimental Middle School, LIN supposed the theme was too big since even the problem of urban drainage had not been well solved yet. The team was suggested to think about issues happening in Beijing or others that are close to students’ lives. Talking about the solar power project from Taiyuan Jiancaoping Experimental Middle School, LIN thinks the issue is feasible while the driven question is worth further discussion. Teachers need to bear in mind that all issues should be close to students’ lives and we also need to pay attention to the core issue which is ways to make good use of solar energy.
In today’s seminar, all schools gave high-quality presentations that reflect teachers’ efforts and full consideration. The new topics were well-conceived with shining points, and old topics became more practical with details. On the whole, today’s discussion was fruitful. It is hoped that each school could further polish the topic based on the discussion and take the design and optimization of the topic as long-term work.