On the evening of November 17th, 2021, from 19:00 to 21:50, the SSI-L Senior High School group held an online seminar in Tencent conference room to discuss the issue selection and implementation progress of partner schools. The meeting was hosted by TAN Yongping, the head of the senior high school section and the director of the Biology subject of the People’s Education Press. Subject experts, contact persons of partner schools and key teachers participated in the discussion.
HAN Lixin from the Second High School affiliated to Beijing Normal University introduced their SSI-L project of “whether it is encouraged in Beijing to build large-scale solar photovoltaic system”. Nowadays, relationships among energy, environment and economic development are hot and common issues that the whole world concerns. The team had already gone through two rounds of activities which were “Electromagnetic gun” and “Production of electroacoustic string instrument”. Because of that, the team had already acquired a certain foundation and it had subject teachers of physics, geography, and politics. By combining with subject knowledge of physics, the team set three tasks: design solar street lamp system, early site selection of photovoltaic power station, and different scenarios of photovoltaic applications. The team, later on, broke tasks into several teaching activities. At present, the project had carried out activities such as making the optical control circuit and designing the solar photovoltaic system. At the end of the course, students will form their own works and display them with the circuit diagram. Teacher HAN showed students’ interim results, including the design of solar charging skateboards, solar smart trash cans and the evaluation of building solar photovoltaic systems across the country. In the end, HAN reported the follow-up plan and their designed activities such as building the solar street lamp system by students and discussing whether it is encouraged in Beijing to build a large-scale solar photovoltaic system.
WANG Bo from Beijing Zhongguancun Zhichun Middle School, commented that the project was interdisciplinary and could improve students’ abilities. The school had already built an interdisplinary team, and the project was well-planned. However, WANG had questions regarding the evaluation methods of students’ outcomes. HAN responded that we treated those activities as part of the regular course. Although there were no strict requirements on assignment, evaluation, and examination, students’ performance would be evaluated by teachers based on their daily performance and the final achievement.
DUAN Changbo from Beijing No. 9 Middle School, introduced their SSI-L project “The history and reflection of pandemics”. Teachers and students collected information about the history of plagues during the summer vacation and tried to design the project by themselves. The project integrated subjects like economics, Chinese, chemistry, biology, and politics. Students learned the history of plagues including “The history and reflection of epidemic disease” by understanding basic knowledge of economics and reading poems. Students would further understand the development of traditional Chinese medicine, and traditional Chinese culture by combining the concept of culture and civilization with the perspective of rational thinking. Students would understand how western medicine spread in China in modern times from the perspective of chemistry and biology. They would finally get the idea of the latest progress of the fight against the pandemic by comparing political differences between China and America and cultivating students’ patriotism.
LI Ping from Yuxin School attached to Capital Normal University believes the topic is close to students’ life. We had already witnessed some achievements through summarizing the history of fighting with the pandemic, but the controversial point and openness of the topic were not clear. Teacher GAO Xiaoxu responded that this project had been discussed in the school for more than a year. In the past, the project mainly focused on biology, physics, and chemistry but now we also invited teachers from history and politics subjects to participate. Hopefully through this, students could have more thinking of the historical side and could consider national big issues from multiple aspects. The topic doesn’t have to be controversial, as long as it is difficult and in-depth, and students can do in-depth research on the topic, that should be fine. TAN Yongping mentioned that when integrating the previous activity into the new semester, teachers need to consider that they may face different groups of students. It is valuable to see the issue from a historical perspective but in terms of integrating science into the project, it needs to think a bit more.
HAN Ning from Beijing Changping No.1 Middle School introduced the background and the implementation of their SSI-L project “Environmental protection shopping bags”. Without appropriate disposal, because plastics are hard to degrade, it will damage the environment in the long-term. Since people rely heavily on plastic items, it is difficult to reduce the use of plastics which made the research and development of degradable plastics a hot issue in the world. As a result, people paid attention to shopping bags used in real life. The theme of this project is biodegradable plastics. On the one hand, by exploring the principle of degradable plastics, the team aims to find a more efficient way to degrade. On the other hand, through the study, students are expected to raise awareness of environmental protection, encourage those around them to use reusable shopping bags correctly, so as to contribute to the rejection of urban pollution. Five classes had already been completed. In the following course, the team will test how heavy different types of plastic bags can hold from the perspective of physics, promote the correct use of environmental bags, and hope to find a university to cooperate with in terms of the performance comparison of different types of degradable plastics.
WANG Xiujuan from the Third High School affiliated to Beijing Normal University raised three questions. First, is it a research-based curriculum? Second, there is only a little students can do on chemical experiments in senior high schools. Third, leading students to field studies can stimulate their interest in study and career choice which is beneficial to students’ future development. HAN Ning responded that those courses were community activities and students did meet some problems during the process. For example, burning plastics would produce toxic gases, so this experiment was rejected. That’s why they hoped to carry out relevant experiments with the help of universities nearby.
CHEN Chunxiang from Beijing Bayi Middle School introduced their SSI-L project “The present and future of vehicle energy”. The school has already carried out SSI-L project since 2017. Because the problem of pool quality weather and traffic restriction was not as severe as before, the school needed to find a better topic. The fire incident caused by the battery car aroused teachers’ attention. However, since it was only discussed from the perspective of community management and residents’ moral consciousness, it was not scientific. Teachers expanded their vision from electric vehicles to the energy issue of vehicles and combined disciplines such as chemistry and politics. Chinese teachers were going to organize activities such as debate, poster making, paper writing to present the outcome. Teacher CHEN Chunxiang pointed out that students need to know the basic paradigm of scientific demonstration in the course learning, make clear what kind of evidence can support their views, and think about possible refutations and counterexamples. CHEN at last, summarized the general ideas and methods on conducting SSI-L and the content that teachers need to teach in the course.
YANG Ying from The Experimental Middle School of Shanxi Normal University commented that the topic is a social hot issue that is worth exploring. As for the teaching method, she suggested designing more student activities such as asking more questions, role play, writing proposals to the government, organizing MUN, and designing experiments based on the subject’s characteristics and knowledge. Besides, this topic is more focusing on the social aspect rather than the scientific part.
WEN Mingnan from RDFZ Middle School introduced their SSI-L project of “Learning SSI-L projects through comprehensive practice”. Based on the previous course of “participatory design”, the school updated the course to “Urban Renewal — Beijing 2035”, cooperated with units in Haidian District and led students to empty spaces nearby to carry out the project of the micro-space renovation of streets in Haidian. WEN introduced the SSI-L guidance model, a theoretical framework that is suitable for solving practical problems. He also encouraged students to find the relevant issues in real life. Those problems are usually complicated.
Teachers from different subjects simulated social-scientific issues that students might find in the implementation. For example, how to build a healthy and ecological environment through thinking about the characteristics of community space and urban geography? The topic will be carried out in the next semester. Students will learn the general idea of social-scientific issues. The school will organize teachers from biology, PE, politics, English, geography, science, and technology to dig out social-scientific issues under the project of community reconstruction together with students. The school also planned to cooperate with designers to conduct detailed design and finally achieve the purpose of studying social-scientific issues in comprehensive practice activities.
ZHANG Ya from the High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University commented that the project was focused, rich in resources and included teachers from different subjects which could be a great support for the implementation. However, since it is difficult for students to raise questions by themselves in real cases, ZHANG suggested teachers focus and refine those questions with students, so as to make the project more targeted and easier to implement. WEN responded that at the early stage, the course was carried out in a form of participatory design and students experienced the project as users. They would also communicate with the designer team from Beijing Forestry University to select appropriate issues, and teachers would be there to sort any problem during the process. WEN also pointed out that it is important to find problems when designing. If all the questions are raised by teachers, there may be some constraints on student’s creativity.
PENG Menghua, the subject guidance expert of the project, special grade teacher of physics, and teacher of the Second High School affiliated to Beijing Normal University, commented that in the last discussion, many projects were just at the planning stage, while this time a lot of them had stepped into the implementation stage. He believed that teachers had made great efforts and had overcome many difficulties. PENG at the same time gave several suggestions. First, he hoped that teachers could further improve their teaching ability and broaden their basic knowledge through the SSI-L project and they could learn from peers and students. Second, for those students’ activities, don’t simply let the student look up information, but to create conditions for students to participate in scientific activities and experiments, let students be as the main body of research. Third, those issues should be close to student’s life. For example, the topic of reusable bags and community reconstruction are close to students’ life. As for the topic of new energy, it is worth thinking about whether battery carts are new energy vehicles and how to recycle lithium batteries. Forth, project teams should understand the characteristics of social science issues and conduct as soon as possible.
ZHOU Youxiang, the subject guidance expert of the project, the special grade teacher of biology, and the teacher of Beijing Changping No. 1 Middle School said that for high school in Beijing, it is required to be diversified and open optional modules. Those can better support the implementation of SSI-L projects. Since students are more interested in activities outside the campus and because in Changping, there is a large modern waste treatment plant, ZHOU hope that schools can take students out of school to do field studies which can deepen the project learning.
KONG Yi from Fujian Normal University pointed out that different SSI-L projects showed different characteristics. Some focus on subject development, some focus on social hot issues and difficult issues, also some others focus on developing from traditional STEM/PBL, etc. For different types of projects, it is suggested to use different evaluation criteria and dimensions to better evaluate the result.
Dr. LIN Jing, the SSI-L project leader and the Director of the Science Improvement Department of China Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality summarized the seminar. Firstly, she pointed out that SSI-L project should link to the high school curriculums, serve the college entrance examination, surpass and even lead the college entrance examination. Since time is precious for high school students, some important subject knowledge should be integrated into the SSI-L designs. Teachers should aim to create a good atmosphere and pay attention to those social issues that are close to students’ life and add moral education. Thirdly, SSI-L is neither equal to research-based learning nor aims to expand students’ knowledge. Instead, module design should consider the reasoning, demonstration, and modeling of SSI to support teaching activities and stimulate students’ learning intention. At least two classes a week should be guaranteed. Finally, LIN suggested partner schools consider the embedded evaluation system to learn big ideas and cultivate abilities of scientific practices and scientific attitudes.
TAN Yongping summed up today’s discussion and said that all speeches were high in quality. A lot of good comments had been made. In the future, the partner schools could consider more on scientific and practical side of the activity design.