Visits Strengthen TJ’s International Partnerships
Building on its established role as a STEM education leader, TJ aims to serve as a global incubator for STEM education. Through new relationships with educational institutions seeking to improve and expand STEM educational opportunities, TJ is sharing its best practices to assist these institutions as they develop their own models (see March 2015 issue).
TJ is currently partnering with Tsinghua University High School (THS) in Beijing, which is one of the top public high schools in China and is affiliated with Tsinghua University, China’s leading science and technology school. 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.
TJ is also partnering with Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation (Ameson), a non-profit, non-governmental organization headquartered in DC that is dedicated to promoting cultural exchange and educational cooperation between China and the rest of the world. TJ has hosted Chinese exchange students traveling under Ameson’s auspices since 2005. Under the terms of the new relationship, TJPF will facilitate Ameson’s research into best practices, selection of faculty, and ongoing progress evaluations as the foundation begins to establish private high schools modeled on TJ’s curriculum, administrative practices, and evaluation system.
The TJ Partnership Fund meets with interested institutions from other parts of the world to assist the School as it spreads its unique STEM educational model to students no matter where they reside.
July 2015: TJ Administration and Retired Faculty Visit Beijing
Last July, Assistant Principal for Science & Technology Dr. Tinell Priddy, Neuroscience Lab Director and Science & Technology Division Manager Mark Hannum, and Computer Science Lab Director Mike Stueben, who had just retired, traveled to Beijing, China, for two weeks to work with Tsinghua University High School (THS). The team made presentations to THS’s entire science faculty and other large groups of teachers on a variety of topics, including:
- Physical design of new THS labs (Geosystems, Robotics/Engineering, Computer Systems)
- Curricular design of new courses, including course preparation
- Specialized equipment needs of new labs
- Safety training on equipment and in labs
- Assessment practices in research classes
- Performance-based assessment practices, including rubric design
- Overview of TJ’s Science & Technology curricular offerings
- Inquiry-based science methods
The TJ team also spent time with the school’s three new lab directors and modeled teaching methods with small groups of students. Each day, the TJ team ate lunch with students in the cafeteria, commenting on the students’ research project ideas.
November 2015: Tsinghua Faculty Visits TJ
Three STEM educators from THS spent a week in November observing TJ’s STEM offerings as part of our continuing partnership with the school. A follow-up to last February’s visit when TJ hosted six Tsinghua educators for an eight-day survey of the entire TJ experience (see March 2015 issue), this five-day visit focused exclusively on STEM, primarily on the sciences.
On their first day, the visitors, Chemistry teacher Dr. Jie Yuan, Biology teacher Dr. Xingwei Wang, and Physics teacher Dr. Nan Qiu, received a quick overview of TJ’s mission, research philosophy, and admission and diploma requirements, followed by a campus tour led by Jefferson Society tour guides Will Ryu, TJ ’16, Brandon Wang, TJ ’17, Christina Wei, TJ ’16, and shadow guide Victoria Li, TJ ’17, and a special Mentorship Program Symposium. The guests then spent the next four days observing classes, including IBET and 8th period. They appreciated the two delicious lunches catered by PTSA Hospitality and Chinese community parent volunteers and the welcome and farewell dinners that the TJ Partnership Fund (PF) arranged at National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria, respectively.
The THS Biology and Chemistry teachers, who are assisting with the planning of THS’s future Biology and Chemistry Research Labs, observed Honors and AP courses in all sciences along with such post-AP electives as DNA Science, The Solar System, Organic Chemistry, Marine Biology, Neurobiology, and Mobile/Web App Development, along with several Senior Research Labs and 8th period clubs and teams. The Physics teacher, who is Director of THS’s new Physics Research Laboratory and had visited with the larger Tsinghua group last February, focused much of his attention on the school’s Physics offerings, including the Optical Systems and Electrodynamics electives and the Quantum Physics Research Lab. He also spent time in several tech classes, including the Robotics elective and the Robotics, Engineering Design, and Prototyping Research Labs.
On their last day, Dr. Priddy debriefed all three members of the Tsinghua team, asking each to identify the areas where TJ faculty and administrators could best help them as they move forward with their research lab plans. The Tsinghua faculty explained that their highest hurdle was in learning how best to transition students from the classroom to conducting research in a lab setting, including how to teach the use of advanced equipment, proper lab techniques, and lab safety, as well as how to help students formulate good scientific questions.
December 2015: TJ Principal Visits China
In December, TJ Principal Dr. Evan Glazer visited five Chinese cities – Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Beijing, and Hefei – in six days, on behalf of Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation (Ameson). Ameson has years of experience running secondary school international exchange programs, preparing Chinese students for US and UK higher education, and advising Western universities regarding international student admissions. The organization hopes that partnering with TJ will assist them in creating superior secondary schools that incorporate the most effective Western educational models. As part of a delegation that included the Dean of Stanford University’s School of Education and the Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Glazer spoke to educators and officials in each of the cities about how TJ’s unique curriculum and approach prepares students for success in college and beyond.
January 2016: Ameson Delegation Visits TJ
A delegation of Ameson educators and administrators spent a jam-packed four days at TJ in January. Hours of classroom observations (including IBET, core and elective science classes, and research labs) were supplemented by presentations covering such diverse subjects as TJ’s organizational structure, mission and Diploma requirements; internal and standardized testing; teacher evaluation; student rights and responsibilities; and the senior lab application process, senior research, and Mentorship.
The visitors had plenty of opportunity to ask follow-up questions and enjoyed comparing their very different system with TJ’s. They also appreciated the dinner out on the town and, in particular, the daily home-cooked lunches prepared and served by Chinese community volunteers.
March 2016: Spring Break Visit Planned
Dr. Priddy plans to visit THS during Spring Break, this time accompanied by Computer Systems Lab Director Dr. Shane Torbert, Robotics Lab Director Chuck dela Cuesta, and Engineering Design Lab Director Craig Lewis. The TJ educators will be assisting THS with their engineering and computer science labs, both of which are up and running.
Coordinating the logistics of hosting our international partners and sending teams of TJ staff abroad is the Partnership Fund’s newest staff member, Outreach and Partnerships Manager Sally Zabel, who spent the first eleven years of her career working in business development for major publications and, most recently, for a fast-growing event design company. Since joining the PF office team in July, she has been busy with alumni events and outreach, in addition to coordinating the itineraries for visits – in both directions – with our International Partners and introducing TJ to potential future partners.
In October 2015, Ms. Zabel traveled to China to speak at a STEM conference hosted by the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Education Group, made up of about 30 Chinese schools. The conference brought participants from all over the world to share their schools’ approaches to integrating science and humanities instruction. On behalf of the TJ Partnership Fund and the School, Ms. Zabel gave a presentation focusing on the IBET program (right).