Exploring concepts of knowledge help students build complex understandings of subject areas and add meaning to the taught curriculum content. Through this process, students develop the skills to become successful life-long learners.
One of the purposes of the IB Primary Years Programme at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) is to offer students a rich and transformative experience through an inquiry-based approach. As a school, we believe that hands-on learning and highly engaging instructional lessons provide a wealth of opportunities for students to apply what they learn in their own lives, local communities, and global contexts.
One of the ways that we develop these concepts of knowledge is by presenting our students with challenges. Most recently, Grade 5 students were challenged with building theme park rides as part of their Unit of Inquiry on 'How the World Works". The purpose of the challenge is to help students understand how our world is influenced by motion and how different forces affect the movement of objects.
Projects such as these offer students hands-on learning experiences—understanding how forces and motion interact as they engage in their explorations of knowledge on the subject. Knowledge integration is essential to achieving a deep conceptual understanding, which requires students to develop well-connected knowledge structures through the central idea of a concept. The WISS Education is focused on promoting meaning and comprehension, encouraging students to make connections, analyze, interpret, and apply their understanding of concepts. In groups, students collaborate, research, and collect evidence on the effects of balancing forces and motion to create theme park rides.
Throughout the project, students fully engage in an authentic learning experience that deepens their understanding and develops cognitive learning skills. Not only did they build their rides, but they also created individual procedural texts to accompany their presentations.
This project allows students to explore and test their own ideas and those of others as evidence to support their claims. It focuses on developing Science and Math concepts by encouraging students to represent and re-represent their developing understandings. Students are not only engaged in the subjects themselves, but they feel they can apply Science and Math in the real world.
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