While I have been running cultural exchanges with the Fukui Prefecture since I arrived at New Providence High School in 1998, it wasn’t until 2008 when I was in Fukui with my students that the idea of creating a science exchange was born. I was out one evening with Mr. Matusda, an official from the Fukui Prefectural Board of Education, discussing the future of our relationship, when the idea came about to grow and bring more purpose to our exchanges both in Fukui and New Providence. The idea of a science exchange was discussed. The increasing need of global collaboration and problem solving was something both of us realized our students needed more of in the 21st century. A science exchange where students can speak in the target language to solve problems and think about pressing topics for the world would benefit them immensely. This discussion lead to the eventual visit of two teachers from our sister school to New Providence in the fall of 2009 where we discussed the implementation of our first exchange.
I have attached a video that was posted on the New Jersey Department of Education website promoting our science exchange with our sister school in Fukui, Japan. While this video showcases our 2010 exchange, our school held the science exchange in March of 2011 and plan to do so again this March 2012. For schools interested in creating this kind of collaborative partnership with a school abroad, it is useful to consider some of the issues we confronted running ours here in New Providence, NJ.
- The visitors need to have all their material sent before hand so language and technological issues can be dealt with before they present.
- The topics should be relevant to our times and problems we face together. The topics should also encourage discovery through collaboration using technology where possible.
- What they are learning/doing should be something that would be difficult to learn/do on their own. It should be something they can take active roles in different parts of the research and development of the presentation of the topic.
- Students should know what is expected of them in terms of products, learning and their respective roles as well.
- The goals of the science exchange should be made public to help build relevance for teachers and students.
If you get a chance, take a look at this video. There is a fairly detailed explanation of the history and goal of the science exchange as well as interviews with some Japanese and New Providence students.
March 2010 NJDOE NPHS-Koshi HS Science Exchange Video
While running the science exchange we do here in New Providence can be expensive, it is possible to use various web 2.0 technology to accomplish many of the goals set forth with this kind of exchange.
Manso, M., & Garzon, M. (2011, November). Designing Effective Global
Collaborative Projects. Learning and Leading with Technology, 32-35.