For the first time in our school history, BFIS hosted the annual training session for educators participating in the upcoming NESA Virtual Science Fair. Approximately 30 teachers gathered on campus this week for the training, including our very own 5th grade team alongside elementary to university level teachers from countries including Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, India, Pakistan and Senegal.
The 5th grade students at BFIS will have the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Science Fair for the third consecutive year. Based on what we have witnessed in previous years, it is fair to say that this opportunity is quickly becoming the capstone learning experience within the elementary science curriculum. Similar to traditional science fairs, children have the opportunity to apply and explore scientific concepts through staging experiments, recording observations, comparing results with hypotheses and drawing conclusions. However, what makes this experience unique is that students are paired with high school or university students outside of Barcelona who act as “e-mentors” and provide feedback to throughout the process. These exchanges allow our children to extend their scientific support network beyond the BFIS community and also gives them the chance to use web-based, collaborative platforms identical to what many universities use for online coursework and idea sharing.
In light of the societal changes taking place within the global community, the argument could easily be made that current generation will encounter a world the likes of which we have never before seen. Given the circumstances, it is increasingly evident that we must provide children with opportunities to think critically, discover multiple pathways to possible solutions, exercise creativity, take risks, make connections across disciplines and apply knowledge in new and unforeseen contexts. Knowing that children are often far less inhibited in their thinking than adults, we want to promote their “what if” way of seeing the world through authentic learning experiences such as the Virtual Science Fair to help prepare students for the kinds of complex challenges they will face in the future.