On June 27, the 2019 Huijia G4 Science Bazaar was held in the school reception hall with the themes of Cooperation, Exploration and Innovation.
The topic of this year’s event is ‘Express Delivery’, and 14 groups of students from the 11th Grade will try to use scientific research results to awaken the whole society’s concern about the problems created during the process of express delivery and to propose possible solution to make world a better place for us.
What is Huijia science bazaar?
The 4th subject group of the IBDP curriculum includes biology, chemistry and physics and Huijia Science Bazaar is an exhibition where these students display the findings and achievements of their independent scientific research projects. All the research projects require collaborative work and students who study different subjects will gather together as a group to work on a scientific or technical topic. During the research process, transdisciplinary concepts are incorporated so as to make sure one of the learning objects of the 4th subject group can be achieved, which is to enhance students’ understanding of the relationship between science subjects and to understand the impact of science on other areas.
Research projects of the 4th subject group aim to guide the students to understand the profound influence of science and technology on environment, society and social ethics. At the same time it allows them to experience the limitations of scientific research, such as the lack of appropriate or sufficient data. Furthermore, these subjects focus on transdisciplinary cooperation and value the students’ reflection on the research process more than the final research findings or products.
As a tradition in Huijia High School, the science bazaar aims at stimulating students’ curiosity of knowledge, encouraging independent scientific inquiry and fostering professional and rigorous scientific thinking ability.
During this year’s bazaar, students brought a wealth of inquiry topics and research findings, covering the whole process and all aspects of express delivery, such as ‘Turning Waste into Treasure: Making Renewable Plastics with Lobster Shells’, ‘Comparative study of the performance of engine lubricant extracted from petroleum and bio-lubricant’ and ‘Establishing an integrated production-transport chain using Gothenburg Machinery to reduce human packaging costs’.
Within just two months, students selected topics, set research plans, carried out experiments and wrote up findings. Every step they made followed rigorous scientific procedures and eventually led them to satisfactory results. The success of the research is closely related to the students’ ability of inquiry and their high level of scientific literacy, which were fostered during everyday learning.
Explore like an adventurer
Whether it’s the science bazaar or regular science class, Huijia always encourages the students to behave like true adventurers, selecting topics that interest them and starting on an expedition to find the truth.
‘Scientific knowledge is only a small part of teaching, we pay more attention to training our students to find problems and solve problems from real life. We cherish more the curiosity and the hunger for knowledge.’ said DP coordinator, teacher Ruan.
During this year’s bazaar, the creative topics selected by the students became the biggest highlight.
Some groups studied the natural way to reduce garbage by looking for bugs that can degrade plastic;
Other groups tried to use bacterial cellulose, a material formed by Kombucha production, to make degradable takeaway boxes;
Some group looked into the self-decelerating mechanism of a train, hoping to invent a new breaking system to reduce risk…
Even though many of the research topics were full of esoteric scientific terms, we could clearly see that every group was trying to solve real life problems using the power of science, which is what Huijia has always been encouraging.
The 14 research topics displayed at the science bazaar were all chosen by students themselves, with the association of their observation, thoughts and knowledge accumulated during daily life. By doing so, the students demonstrated their aspiration to make a contribution to the improvement of the planet.
Practice like a scientist
Science is rigorous and has no tolerance to carelessness of negligence. Every step forward requires students to go through careful research and reasoning with independent scientific research ability.
What does a complete scientific research process include?
Literature Review: By referring to dozens of literature, the researchers are able to gain the background knowledge and understand the development process of the research topics.
Experiment Design: Determining variable analysis, safety factors and the whole experimental process.
Implementation of Experiment: Performing the procedures in a scientific and rigorous way, making amendments when necessary and drawing reliable conclusions.
Reflection and development: Reflecting upon the whole experiment process, including the highlights and shortcomings and making further recommendation to further research in the field.
All the research findings displayed at the bazaar this time were drawn through the above research process with many challenges and difficulties conquered.
Some groups had to abandon all the research data collected within the first week and started from scratch again;
Some groups had to test dozens of times the concentration levels of acetic acid and the amount of acetic acid and chitin used for the experiment before getting satisfactory results.
This is only an summary of the day-to-day study in the school. For every science subject in the IBDP, each student is required to finish a 12-page individual investigation and a 4,000-word IB extended essay. To complete these assignments, the student must complete experiments independently following the above procedures and generate a detailed and professional scientific report in English, which includes introduction, methodology and safety issues, data analysis, conclusions, evaluation and expansion. An assignment as such requires students to be equipped with the abilities beyond middle school level, which would help them to lay a solid foundation for their future study in university.
In the science lab of Huijia, we could often see children busy with their works.
They use UV spectrophotometer to look for the maximum absorption peak of the solution by precisely adjusting the wavelength and monitor the progress of the chemical reaction to find the calculation rate equation;
They use PCR amplifier to amplify the target DNA fragments and use gel electrophoresis to identify them;
They collect a large amount of data and accurate images using motion sensors, mechanical sensors and acceleration sensors to explore the rules of motion.
During these regular inquiry-based experiments, knowledge is learnt as the research findings and our students are able to gain great improvement in their scientific research ability and academic level. The requirements of research steps and reports are very similar to those of overseas universities so as to ensure a seamless connection to the students’ future study.
Think like an almighty
Even though different subjects sit separately, the world works as a whole, and we want to cultivate students with trans-disciplinary thinking ability and application skills rather than fragments of knowledge. This kind of trans-disciplinary study does not only apply to the three science subjects but also extends beyond science and creates a spark in every attempt.
This is the teaching philosophy that runs through every lesson and every learning activity.
For example, in exploring the destruction of the ozone layer, students scientifically analyzed the process of ozone and oxygen conversion and how it can be destroyed by chlorine-containing substances so as to understand the pros and cons of chlorine-containing refrigerants. In addition to that, they also studied, from the economic perspective, the negative externalities of ozone layer destruction.
While studying molecular polarity, students made a natural connection with the vectors in physics and mathematics, so as to gain a deeper understanding of the relevance of science subjects and the fundamental value of mathematics.
G4 Science Bazaar is a perfect blend of the three major science subjects in the IBDP, as well as science and art. It encourages students to turn profound and complex scientific theories into artistic works and display them to audiences in an easy-to-understand manner.
‘The overall theme of our display board is Chinese Restaurant, which echoes our research topic: The Recycling of Kitchen Waste (Crayfish). In order to create greater visual attraction, we designed this crayfish restaurant with the couplet in traditional Chinese characters.
In addition, the theme of turning crayfish shells into plastic is quite a novel one and could be used as a new type of environmentally friendly materials in artistic creation.
--Group 10, Winner of the Best Art Award
This type of mindset will be sure to have a profound impact on students’ future study in university and even their entire lives.
Einstein said that science is never-ending and will always remain as an eternal mystery. For us as human beings, we truly know too little in the context of the iterative evolution of the earth over the past billions of years.
May we all keep our original aspiration facing this vast ocean of science, staying hungry and staying foolish.