Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wanny's Words: Visit from the Singapore Ministry of Education

By Wanny Hersey
   Superintendent/Principal at Bullis Charter School

BCS had the pleasure of hosting members from the Singapore Ministry of Education at BCI on Wednesday for a tour and discussion about our innovative programs.  It was a tremendous honor to have this 19-member delegation visit our school because they were interested to see the best practices in American education in action, especially our project-based learning and design-thinking curricula that are integral to our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program.
Students explain how they are designing and prototyping a 3-D prosthetic hand in the FabLab@BCS

The fifth and eighth grade students at BCI were eager to share what they were working on with members of the group.  Fifth graders were engaged in designing and prototyping a prosthetic hand in the FabLab@BCS, as part of their fully integrated unit about the human body. While in the FabLab@BCS, the educators from Singapore were also able to use the zSpace module to experience how being able take apart and assemble a mechanic hand and arm in 3D will help deepen the students’ understanding of the workings of those parts of the body as well as assist them in their own prosthetic hand designs. In art, the visitors watched our students add muscle groups to their wire and clay replicas of the human body - the same muscle group they were learning how to exercise and tone in Physical Education class.

A member from the Singapore Ministry of Education marvels at the detail of a student's clay sculpture replicating the human muscular system

Eighth graders were nearing the end of their 3-week Architectural Engineering Design Intersession. Members of the delegation observed as students worked in groups to design an environmentally responsive school for the national CEFPI School of the Future Design Competition.  The delegation members were extremely impressed with the students’ 3-D models and were especially interested in listening to students who shared about how they utilized the design-thinking process to create their aspirational school sites.
A student shares her architecture designs with members of the delegation from Singapore

The visiting members from the Ministry of Education asked students questions in each class we visited. Our students articulately responded to the inquiries about what they were learning and also discussed the habits of mind, character traits, and skills they develop as a result of the educational program at Bullis. They made quite an impression on the officials from Singapore who were inspired by our students, our teachers, and the world-class educational program that we provide.

8th graders answer questions during the about BCS and design thinking

I felt so much pride in Bullis and hope that you do too. It’s not always easy being a member of the Bullis community. Parents, staff, and students all work together and all work hard to ensure every child at Bullis has access to an incredible program. In watching our visitors marvel at what our kids can do, I was reminded of how special Bullis really is for redefining what’s possible in public education worldwide.