Student Projects

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ISB Excels Again at Hotchkiss Film Festival
Posted 06/14/2017 02:04PM

The International School of Beijing (ISB) has continued its successful record at the Hotchkiss Film Festival, with two student films receiving critical acclaim at this year's event.

Each year the festival receives hundreds of short films by high school students worldwide. Grade 11 students Sean B, Austin K, Ian W, and Tony H received an honorable mention for their documentary Jade, which explores the story of a local masseuse and his battle with the skeletal disorder rickets.

"We wanted to explore how Xiao Ma (the masseuse) overcomes his challenges to live the life he wants to live," said Sean, who first met the Shaanxi-born masseuse when he was in second grade.

"Growing up, he was an inspiration to me because of his diligence and unwavering perseverance," he added.

The documentary was conceived, shot, and edited by the four International Baccalaureate (IB) film students in just over a week. Although the festival's submission deadline loomed before spring break when many assessments were due, the boys were determined to enter the competition and contribute to ISB's impressive reputation at the festival.

In 2014, ISB senior Johan Lallerstedt won Best Film at Hotchkiss for his post-apocalyptic thriller Solus, while last year Elaine Li won Best Cinematography for her short film The Street Musician.

Joining the winners' circle for ISB at this year's Hotchkiss Festival were Melanie B, Ryan B, and Talia G who won Best Screenplay for Between the Lines. The film packs drama and mystery as a high school teacher tries to decode a message from a troubled student.

Describing themselves as "a group of perfectionists," the trio spared no effort to ensure their last film produced at ISB was their best work.

"It was hard and there was a lot of reshooting. We didn't place too much emphasis on the cinematography, but when it came to the finer details we tried to ensure we had the best possible lighting, angles, sound, and so on," explained Talia.

Nevertheless, the students had modest expectations heading into the festival.

"We were surprised we made it into the finals, and then even more surprised when it won Best Screenplay," said Melanie, who is preparing to study film and advertising at Brigham Young University.

The film was an artistic showcase of communication and collaboration, all agreed.

"You need everyone's individual talents and personality traits to get things done. We were very well-balanced as a group," Melanie said.

Service Learning in Shanxi Promotes Oral Health
Posted 06/13/2017 10:49PM

Children in a remote town in north China's Shanxi Province have many reasons to smile thanks to a service project by a ninth-grader at the International School of Beijing (ISB).

Diana Y, a student in the High School Futures Academy, established an oral health education program last month in Lishi, Shanxi.

During the Labor Day weekend in May, she visited the town and spoke to children, parents, and teachers to educate them on the importance of oral hygiene.

In addition to her talk, she used her own savings to buy toothbrushes and toothpaste for villagers.

"My program mainly targets children, but I also focus on educating adults to encourage them to set healthy habits," she said.

Diana originally wanted her Futures Academy project to help Syrian refugees. After some research, she was surprised to learn one of their most critical issues is oral health.

"I then found out that this same issue is a problem in rural China," she said, adding that Lishi, her mother's hometown, emerged as an ideal place to launch her program.

"When I shared the idea with my parents, they were even more excited than me," said Diana, whose father is a dentist.

Diana was invited to speak at two schools, one an elementary school and another a mountainside school of 50 children aged between 8 and 18.

While speaking to big audiences was daunting, parents at each school were overwhelmingly supportive – even though some had interesting views about oral health.

"There was one mom who, after I told her about cavities, attributed it to genetics and said they couldn't be prevented," said Diana.

Diana will return to Lishi over the summer break to further promote her program. Her efforts recently earned support from consumer goods giant P&G, which will sponsor her with dental products, and Yitianshi, an NGO Diana credits as "extremely helpful" in teaching her the logistics of running a sustainable program.

As a core value at ISB, service prepares engaged global citizens committed to contributing to the world around them. Diana said her experience of real-world, service learning had inspired her to embrace challenges.

"The biggest lesson I learned was the value of getting out of my comfort zone. When meetings were arranged with school principals in Lishi, I was originally reluctant because I was anxious about speaking," she said,

"The amount of trust I received from kids and adults gave me a lot of confidence."

MS Futures Academy Hosts Capstone Conference
Posted 06/02/2017 11:13AM

What challenges does China face? What can be done to address these issues? Why is it important to take action? Grade 8 students from the International School of Beijing's (ISB) Futures Academy set out to answer these questions and more at their Capstone Conference on June 1, 2017.

The conference marked the culmination of an integrated, project-based learning unit whereby all eighth-graders investigated real-world issues in China. Capstone projects covered heritage preservation, environmental sustainability, law enforcement, disability advocacy, nutritional health, and much more.

Students began by creating a written rationale outlining why action is needed, allowing them to apply their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The conference emphasized communication and collaboration, requiring students to present 30-minute workshops in small groups to an audience of teachers and their peers.

"We were impressed with our students and their capacity to create and deliver workshop presentations. Thirty minutes is a sizeable amount of time to fill for a grade 8 student and a big challenge, which our students rose to by working collaboratively," said Kelsey Giroux, humanities facilitator and grade 8 team leader for the ISB Futures Academy.

Ms. Giroux added that the conference was a "huge project" that came together in a "professional experience" that facilitated personalized learning.

"Throughout the whole Capstone project students learned so many valuable skills, such as gathering data from primary and secondary sources. Some conducted surveys of hutong residents, using that data to then write a research-based argumentative rationale," she explained.

The tone of lifelong learning and entrepreneurship was set earlier in the day by theCapstone Conference's keynote speaker, Hong Liu. Mr. Liu, founder of the NGO Peer Education, shared his experience tackling global and local issues in rural China by empowering underprivileged communities through liberal arts education at secondary schools.

Before joining Peer Education in 2014, Mr. Liu worked with the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University, where he initiated the Cultural China Scholars program and served as the associate director to the Songshan Forum in 2012 and 2013.

The first event of its kind at ISB, the Capstone Conference aims to educate students on important real-world issues while also inspiring action and building empathy. At their workshops, students demonstrated leadership and responsibility by outlining their research-backed approach to tackling challenges.

"Students learned to work together as a team to combine ideas. We had Intellect Associates visit to work with them on storytelling and TED talk-style presentations. The experience of both attending and running a conference workshop is a valuable skill that will benefit them in the long run," noted Ms. Giroux.

Owen C and Jacob B chose to investigate ways to preserve and promote China's cultural identity by eradicating vandalism strengthening its economic model. The pair created a website that outlined their actions and rationale.

Mikayla H, Nerfititi C, Reina Z, and David L went even further by establishing From Homes to the Wild, a nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated protecting ecosystems. In addition to building a website, designing a logo, and creating multimedia content showcasing their work, the students formed partnerships with veterinary clinics and animal shelters in Beijing.

Jian Bing in Beijing
Posted 05/02/2017 01:49PM

Jian Bing in Beijing, a short film exploring the cultural and culinary significance of jian bing (a savory breakfast crepe), was awarded Best Film in the 13-15 age group and Best Documentary in Singapore on March 24, 2017. It also won the award for Best Sound at the AAYFF awards ceremony in Shanghai.

Click here for full story.

Futures Public Radio
Posted 04/11/2017 12:00PM

Inspired by organizations like National Public Radio in the United states, Futures Public Radio provides an authentic community voice for International School of Beijing middle school students, empowering them through literacy skills and real-world, local and global investigations. ISB's FPR highlights the worth of journalism to build seekers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. We aim celebrate community, service, and high-quality, publishable storytelling and reporting.

Sound engineering, audio and video editing, web design, and collaboration exist as twenty-first century learning goals. Expert connections and mentorships with global and local media are sought whenever possible.

FPR member stations from other international and local schools follow the same community-building and professional journalism ideals.

To read all about ISB's FPR, please visit their site.

The Brick, January 2017
Posted 01/26/2017 12:00PM

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