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Project “We Are One” Unites ISB & Shunyi Experimental School

By Tom Fearon
Project “We Are One” Unites ISB & Shunyi Experimental School

The International School of Beijing (ISB) Futures Academy and the Experimental School Affiliated with Niulanshan First Secondary School (NLS) have collaborated to learn about local waterways and promote environmental sustainability as part of Project We Are One, a six-week integrated unit encompassing the humanities, science, and math, as well as Chinese and English.
The seventh-grade project culminated with an exhibition at the NLS school in June, recognized as International Children’s Day in China. Students from both schools presented eco-friendly projects to an eager audience of parents, students, and teachers.
Speaking at the exhibition’s opening ceremony, ISB Head of School Tarek Razik praised students for demonstrating global-mindedness and working together as effective communicators and collaborators.
“Every day should be celebrated as ‘Children’s Day’ because you are the future of the world. On behalf of ISB, it is an honor to be here today. It’s great that we’re able to share resources, to share knowledge, and to make friends,” he said.
“You’ve taken on a very serious issue. We only have one Earth, and if everyone learns to take care of it we can treasure it for many more generations. You’re making a positive difference and, though it may seem small, your efforts inspire us all.”
The project comprised four stages: inquiry and observation, investigation, creating and reiterating, and the exhibition. During the first stage, students from both schools visited the Wenyu River to collect trash and take note of their observations. Next, they created devices made of split bamboo and glass jars that were used to collect water samples from the Wenyu and Chaobai Rivers and the Hanshiqiao Wetlands, all located in Shunyi district.
“The project has been a great opportunity for teachers and students from both schools to learn about how little changes made at a local level can make a deep global impact. This partnership has allowed us to both deepen our students’ cultural connection to China and foster their global-mindedness,” said Brendan Riley, science facilitator at ISB’s Futures Academy.
Li Xiaomei, a teacher from the NLS school, said the partnership represented an educational milestone for both schools.
“We’re extremely happy to have the opportunity for students to learn about the environment from their ISB peers and make a meaningful contribution,” she said.
“I decided to make a downspout using a water cooler bottle,” explained Billy, an ISB student. “The water is purified as it passes through clay beads at the top, allowing more nutrients to be retained for plants. One of my favorite parts of this project was collecting water samples from local rivers. It was an eye-opening experience to find out what is actually in the water near our homes. Collaborating with students from the Niulanshan school was a little awkward at first because there were cultural and linguistic barriers, but as time progressed we realized we had a lot in common and they were just as eager to solve these environmental problems as we are.”
“When we were collecting water samples from the river, we discovered lead that might be partially from fishermen’s abandoned hooks,” said Serena, another ISB Student. “I decided to make ‘green’ cosmetics products after learning there is cadmium, zinc, and lead in many lipsticks and lip balms on the market. I bought the materials from [e-commerce website] Taobao and even managed to create an eco-friendly ‘case’ using bamboo.”

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