Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unit Of Inquiry - Earth Matters

The element that I found interesting about the International School of Amsterdam(ISA) is the learning of "Unit of Inquiry". Each year the students will learn 6 transdisciplinary themes which are supposed to have global significance intended to help students engaged with their world, whatever that means :) Anyway, the themes are Who We Are, How We Organise Ourselves, How We Express Ourselves, Where We Are In Time and Place, How The World Works and Share The Planets. Each unit of inquiry normally takes around 6 to 8 weeks to complete. Sometimes, they would go on a field trip to visit a place related to the inquiry and/or invite a parent whose works relates to the inquiry to come and speak about the issue, or create a show for the parents to come and see.

Earth Matters is the fifth and current Unit of Inquiry for the grade 2 students. They have started on this new unit about 2 weeks ago in early March. Under this unit, they learn about earth, the solar system and how the world works. Books on the topic are be displayed in each class where the children can easily read and browse. The class is decorated with large balls representing sun, planets and moon.

On the 4th of March, the school had invited a NASA astronaut Steven Smith who happens to be a parent at the school, to give a talk to the grade 2 students. Mr Smith had been to the ISS for five times and had stayed there for six months every time. He had also performed space walks, so he certainly knew what he was talking. The children were very excited and they certainly learned many interesting facts and had a lot of questions to ask to Mr Smith. Do you know that an astronaut wears a diaper when he performs a space walk? No, that's something that I never knew before. The children were hilarious when they heard that and needless to say, many had second thoughts about becoming an astronaut after that !!!

Apart from the space talk, Mr Smith also gave motivation talk to the children. He talked about reaching for your dreams and that one must never ever give up no matter what other people say. Every time you fall or sidetracked from your dream path, you must always get back on your feet, or move back to your dream path and move on. He is a fine example, he had always wanted to be an astronaut. He still had drawings of himself as an astronaut which he made when he was only 8 years old. He had to apply for 5 times before NASA finally accepted his application. He also talked about always being good, always listen to your parents and never do bad things, never do drugs and so on.

On the 12th of March, the children had a fun adventure at the Space Expo in Noordwijk. They went at 9.30 am and only arrived back at the school at 3.15 pm. I couldn't join the trip because the teacher had 5 parent volunteers already. I was too late in offering my services :( I do not know exactly what they were doing there, but they certainly had a lot of activities and a lot of fun....

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