Celebrating Innovation in Education at ISB

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(Newswire.net — December 13, 2017) Beijing, Shunyi District —


Innovation knew no bounds at the International School of Beijing (ISB).

The school teemed with creativity, showcasing dozens of booths, workshops, and exhibits from students within the school, and from those beyond its walls including community members and businesses in the city.  

ISB hosted its second annual Innovation Expo on Saturday, November 25, and cast its net outward to invite a diverse smorgasbord of individuals to exhibit their innovations.

“I think it’s important to be innovative and make things because it will make the world a better place,” says Masai G., a Grade 6 student who exhibited in the expo. “People can improve things or create things that will solve common problems.”

An avid soccer player since he was five years old, Masai exhibited his Soccer Soles—an idea that came to him when he became frustrated with carrying two pairs of shoes around the school (his soccer cleats and regular shoes).

He decided to create a prototype for a shoe with two soles, adding a rubber silicone sole to a cleated shoe.

“Soccer is my passion and connecting my creativity with soccer comes naturally and is fun,” says Masai.

Becoming a community hub for innovation

Spearheaded by Julie Lemley, a design technology facilitator at ISB, this year’s Innovation Expo became a community hub, bringing together the school’s unique space and facilities and the city’s unique mix of people. 

“There’s a lot going on in Beijing, which I think is really cool,” says Lemley. “It’s more accessible than any other city I’ve been in. If you have a great idea, you can make it happen. It’s good for kids to see real life applications of makers and innovative ideas going on.”

The Innovation Expo was filled with hands-on maker spaces for parents and kids to tinker and create without rules. Some would even spend hours at one station, eventually walking out of the school with stools and tables they had created.

Lemley hopes that through fairs like Innovation Expo, the school can continue to serve the kids and families in its surrounding community as well as its students by providing unique spaces and events.   

An exhibit that possibly turned the most heads was a rollercoaster designed by eleventh graders, Davy Z. and Adam T. Working on the project almost every day after school, the two students collaborated with experts in the field to build the coaster, learning a lot about applied physics in the process. 

They even picked up a few tips during the exhibit as well.

“We met a lot of interesting people from the community and had some very intriguing discussions,” they wrote in an email. “For example, there was a parent who was an engineer from the Chinese Institute of Technology that discussed with us ways we would reduce the friction on the track to make the cart returned to the first valley on the track.” 

The rollercoaster has become a showpiece at the school, currently sitting in the courtyard. The two hope it will serve as an inspiration for future students, demonstrating what a combination of passion, teamwork, and dedication can accomplish.

“Both theoretical and hands-on skills were developed, and we want this to act as a stepping stone to show the true potential behind project based learning. Without effective teamwork, the project would not have been completed at all.” 

The two created a new after-school club at ISB to foster creativity within the student body through building. The Maker Club provides students access to training and tools to turn their ideas into reality.


Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit

As ISB increases its focus towards personalized learning and innovation, the Innovation Expo both helps students find niches they’re passionate about, while also exposing them to other businesses and like-minded people in the city.

As a design technology facilitator, Lemley helps other teachers integrate design thinking and engineering into the classroom, co-planning lessons and providing spaces for students to create.

“I would love to do entrepreneurial design,” she says. “Kids are making things, but I don’t think we’ve gotten to that level yet. It’s something I’d like to encourage. There are so many components such as the business side and the design side.” 

One such student who demonstrated a knack for the entrepreneurial side was ninth grader, Austin L. Passionate about illustrating, he developed his own merchandise based on his artwork and sold it at the expo.

“Illustrating just helps with creativity and expands my boundaries of thinking, but it actually does more than that,” he says. “Whenever I’m stressed, I like to hook up my tablet to my computer and release all of it onto the digital canvas. All of my emotions and stress are vented towards the screen, and it fuels my motivation to finish certain illustrations.”

Austin’s brand has already been catching on throughout the high school and middle school student body.

Although still too young to know what the future holds, he’s positive digital drawing and design will be part of it.


Adapting to the changing face of education 

“This kind of education is interdisciplinary,” says Lemley. “Kids are intrinsically motivated because they’re creating something interesting. They’re not just writing reports, but they’re creating authentic, lifelong skills.

“The creative problem-solving piece can be applied to any content area both in school and when they’re adults. Education is changing—there’s no longer that heavy emphasis on knowledge, but more about the application of that knowledge.”

As the Innovation Expo grows, Lemley plans to open it up to surrounding schools, as well as continue to encourage the community to participate.

“There was a really interesting mix of people, which was good. Beijing is a really big city, so it’s nice to see that diversity and inclusivity here.” 


About International School of Beijing

International School of Beijing is an extraordinary school; made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning more than 36 years. ISB enjoys a proven track record of excellent learning outcomes, with students attending colleges which are right for them. Our students’ potential is built around providing a balanced education which addresses their academic and, crucially, their social-emotional and physical wellbeing. The school offers a balanced learning environment where skilled and passionate teachers bring out the best in the students.

International School of Beijing

10 An Hua Street
Beijing, Shunyi District 101318