From 19:30 to 22:30, 24th November, SSI-L project team from Beijing Normal University held an online seminar for elementary partner schools. Mr. Cao Chunhao, the principal of elementary school section of SSI-L project team and special-grade science teacher of Tongzhou District Teaching and Research Center of Beijing, hosted the meeting.
To begin with, seven schools introduced their project designs from aspects of the relationship between the title and the issues, the driven questions, interdisciplinary learning framework, the connection of the project and curriculum standards, the learning objectives and evaluation schemes, and activity plans. Song Linlin from Harbin Jihong Elementary School introduced their topic on “Garbage Pollution and Degradation”. Activities such as venue tours, garbage collection and investigation, garbage disposal experiments were planned. Hopefully, through those activities, students could think from multiple aspects, understand the current situation of garbage pollution, and improve the awareness of environmental protection. Sun Wenbin from Beijing Dongcheng Tiyuguan Road Elementary School explained their topic of “Clear your Plate Campaign”. Under the background of food mass-production and tight balance between supply and demand, considering the initiative of halting food waste, the team designed a series of activities on a life cycle of the corn. Through experiments, students could know what kind of things could influence the growth of the corn, the whole process of planting the corn including changing basin, pollination, prevention and control of insects, fruit protection, and the current situation of food waste. Those activities aim to raise students’ awareness on controlling food waste and design feasible plans to save food. Wei Qiuyan from Beijing Haidian Shangdi Experimental Elementary School, introduced their topic of “Universal Studio”. The team designed two driven questions to improve students’ financial literacy. Those are 1) What’s your plan on building a theme part? 2) If you were a project investor, how would you run a theme park? Zhao Rui from RDFZ Yizhuang Xincheng School shared their topic of “Sponge City”. Taking the location advantage of Yizhuang, the team designed a series of activities such as researching and modeling to make students know the theory of the water cycle, the concept of sustainable development, and finally engage in city construction. The outcome will be evaluated through “Kirin Coin”. Ji Yu from Shaanxi Xixian Fengxi No.1 Elementary School, introduced the topic of “Paperless Society”. Students visited the exhibition of the PBL project “History of Writing Materials”, collected data to debate, and finally suggested on the paper number. Li Xinwei from Capital Normal University Yuxin School summarized their SSI-L project “Noise in Life”. The topic was divided into 5 aspects which were Science (noise generation and propagation, the definition, source, classification, and the harm), technology and engineering (ways and structures to reduce noise pollution), art (video shooting, welfare performance), mathematics (questionnaire, modeling), policies and regulations (Law of Prevention and Control of Pollution from Environmental Noise, Standard of Noise of Urban Area, Law on Public Security Administration Punishments). In addition, self-evaluation and mutual evaluation will be carried out by constructing study groups. Zhang Fawen from Ningnan Chaoyang Elementary School, Liangshan, Sichuan introduced their SSI-L topic of “Pesticides and Fertilizers” and the driven question is “Should we develop organic farming in an all-round way and eliminate pesticides and fertilizers?” After the discussion, students will realize that the invention of pesticides and fertilizers can contribute to the development of modern agriculture and meet human needs, while at the same time may threaten the ecosystem. Students will see two sides of a coin and elaborate their opinions based on evidence.
Xi Aijun, Xu Lianchao and Miao Xuchun from Rongcehng Fuxin Elementary School, Weihai Qianshan Road Elementary School and Wenzhou Dalton Elementary school respectively, were appointed as review team members and commented on previous projects. They evaluated projects by considering whether the structure was clear, whether the issue is controversial and scientific, and whether the topic is close to students’ lives. They also pointed out some common questions existing in the design and gave suggestions. For example, they mentioned that the interdisciplinary study framework issues were not covered in the main content of the project or that was far beyond the activity content; the second classification was not clear; study goals were too vague to match driven questions, and the difficulty on evaluation. To solve those questions, they listed 7 suggestions:
1）Garbage Pollution and Degradation. Students need to have a basic knowledge and experience of garbage pollution before the first class. The simulation experiment of the impact of garbage on the ecological environment should be designed with details. Teachers can guide students to compare the garbage classification system between Japan, German, and Shanghai. For the activity of waste degradation, it would be a good idea to compare differences in the degradation process between plastic and paper.
2) ”Clear the plate campaign”. They suggested the team add more activities regarding the economic loss of food waste, straighten out the activity order of the session “a life cycle for a corn” and praise outstanding students.
3)Universal Studio. The financial situation of Universal Studios is too complicated and difficult for students, so it is suggested to change the research object to a small shop in Universal. The team will also need to further clarify what aspect of financial literacy to cultivate.
4）Sponge City. The team first presented the case of the park, and modeling would be the main body in the follow-up activities. By doing field study and technical explanation, the model would improve constantly, and the result would be presented in the form of a design plan. The project needs to include more moral reasoning judgment and aims to guide students thinking about the question “will sponge city improve the livable of the city?”
5）”Paperless Society”. This project focuses on “replacing paper textbooks with electronic textbooks”, strengthens consideration of cultural heritage, and increases experimental activities related to papermaking, oracle bone and bamboo slips.
6）”Noise in Life”. This project allows students to do role play, acting as administrators from the environmental protection department. Activities and final presentations were designed according to different roles. The team also sets up scientific practices in the project considering relevant units in science textbooks.
7）Pesticides and Fertilizers. The logical link between pesticides and fertilizers and biodiversity was not highlighted in the activities, and there was a lack of investigation on the situation of excessive pesticides and fertilizers. In the last section, teachers can encourage students to think about the open solution instead of choosing one or the other. The content of food security and economic and social costs was not explained enough, so this part can be expanded.
Cao Chunhao reminded teachers that when designing activities, we should pay attention to whether we could collect enough evidence, whether research hypotheses can be effectively demonstrated, and whether the conclusions can effectively solve problems.
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 further pointed out that the topic of “Universal Studios” is not a social-scientific issue, and “Sponge City” is too big for elementary school students, so she suggested schools to reconsider topics. Topics like “Garbage Pollution and Degradation”, “Paperless Society”, “Clear your Plate Campaign”, “Noise in Life”, “Pesticides and Fertilizers” can be further linked to the actual life of elementary school students and create SSI-L learning scenarios. Among them, “Garbage Pollution and Degradation” and “paperless society” are too difficult for elementary school students since the first one requires knowledge about degradation, while the second one needs practicality. “Clear your Plate Campaign” relates to food issues, and teachers need to dig out social issues which are close to students. Dr. Lin Jing reminded all teachers that selecting appropriate issue is the premise of designing SSI-L project. The topic of issue should be “social issues arising from science and technology”. It aims to create a context for students to learn across disciplines and develop their literacy as a whole. Therefore, teachers should first fully consider what students have learned before, choose a point that they can perceive as the starting point of issue learning, and ensure that students can comprehensively understand and solve the problem.