TJ Is International STEM Leader
As one of the nation’s leading STEM high schools, TJ has for years served as an inspiration and informal model for public and private schools in the United States and abroad (see JOSTI, below). During the 2013-2014 academic year, TJ entered the first of what it hopes will be many mutually beneficial relationships with leading international institutions that will allow it to share best practices to assist them as they develop their own STEM models. These relationships help to fulfill a long-term goal of the school, that of sharing TJ’s uniquely successful approach to teaching science and technology with other schools in order to expand educational opportunities for students, no matter where they reside.
TJ will be partnering with Tsinghua University High School (THS) in Beijing, one of the top public high schools in China. Tsinghua University, China’s leading science and technology university, with 71 research centers and 166 laboratories, runs several high schools in China and other countries. Tsinghua University is interested in introducing a specialized STEM track in its network of high schools, including THS, and is hoping eventually to establish a Tsinghua International STEM High School in Beijing. Chinese educators, concerned that their educational system’s emphasis on speed and memorization over discussion and debate may not produce tomorrow’s most successful students, are increasingly eager to adopt the best instructional models from abroad (see “Lessons from the World’s Best Public School,” Newsweek, May 1, 2014).
Plans for the partnership include the exploration of research collaborations between THS and TJ students, particularly through the new collaborative research network known as JCIRN. “Chinese students will enrich their horizon by understanding what their US peers are thinking and exploring,” said THS Principal Dianjun Wang (pictured at the University with TJ Partnership Fund Development Director Aristia (Tia) Kinis, who led TJ’s partnership discussions). “We should open a door to let young generations exchange and cooperate early.”
This summer, Astronomy Lab Director and Research Labs Chair Lee Ann Hennig, in Beijing for a professional conference, met with THS’s faculty and administration. She answered questions related to integrating research into the curriculum; education and training of Lab Directors; collaboration among TJ’s Labs and between TJ’s Labs and others; mentorship arrangements; obtaining funding for equipment; and much more. “I emphasized the need for creativity in research — students need time to research, think, synthesize, reflect, readjust, and redefine a project when necessary,” Ms. Hennig said.
Other TJ faculty may visit Beijing during future school breaks, and THS faculty may visit TJ to observe classroom instruction. In addition to covering the travel and other costs incurred by current and former TJ faculty and others assisting with the project, Tsinghua is making a significant contribution to the Campaign for TJ to ensure that TJ will remain on the cutting edge of research, education, collaboration, and outreach for the next 25 years and beyond.
JOSTI: Two Decades of Training Overseas Faculty & Staff
Since 1993, TJ has collaborated with the State Department to provide a one-week summer training session to overseas school employees that focuses on using technology to improve teaching and network administration. Organized and hosted by TJ, the 2014 Jefferson Overseas Schools Technology Institute (JOSTI) featured presentations by technology specialists, including TJ faculty and staff, and two students, both recipients of JOSTI grants.
This summer’s topics, divided into “teaching” and “techie” strands, included, among dozens of others, “Hour of Code” by Computer Systems Lab Director Dr. Shane Torbert and “WAN/LAN Network Monitoring” by Network Support Administrator Pete Morasca, and both “Students in IT” and “Nagios Monitoring” by Network Support staff member Andrew Hamilton.
In addition, Matthew Park, TJ ’15, Senior Vice President, NeuroInspire LLC, demonstrated how an electroencephalogram (EEG) neuro-headset can be used to excite students about science by allowing them to manipulate an onscreen box with their thoughts; and Milan Bharadwaj, TJ ’16, explained how teachers can use a calendar he created using the open-source Moodle platform to post information that the students can use for course planning, collaboration, and homework.
JOSTI attendees, who also had some time for evening entertainment and sightseeing, returned to their American and International schools in cities such as Islamabad, Pakistan; Almaty, Kazakhstan; La Paz, Bolivia; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, ready to implement the latest advances in network management and instructional technology.