Author: JulieLemley

FA7 Entrepreneur Project: Be a Changemaker

Teaching Entrepreneurship may be the most integrated and authentic project one could teach in schools.  So many different concepts, skills, and knowledge students learn in order to be an entrepreneur (successful or not).  Students learned about making a business plan, market research, finances, advertising, communication, and most importantly grit and perseverance.

For the culminating task for this project, students designed and created a product or service that filled a need or want of a specific target audience.

At the end of the unit, students pitched their business ideas and products to a panel to convince the school/PTA to continue to sell their product in the future to our community.


Grade 10 Climate Change Campaign

This year was the first year Grade 10 Science followed the NGSS Science Standards, as we have rolled out this new curriculum.  With this K-10 Science curriculum, we are lucky to be able to provide engineering experiences to all students every year to apply their science content to solve problems, learn new skills and think like an engineer.

For this project’s development, 3 Science teachers and 2 Ed Tech and Design teachers worked to plan, implement and coach students through this student-driven learning experience.

Students were to focus on a specific area of Climate Change and then create a media campaign to try to impact a specific audience.  Students also had to design & create (at least a prototype) of an engineering solution, product design, system or event for this specific audience as well.  Students worked for about a month on this project with check-ins along the way from all 5 teachers.  It was a successful project, but we want to make some changes for next year.  For one, the systems design was challenging for students and when their was no tangible product, some students struggled to go deep enough to show that they system was feasible or a viable solution.  Next year, we will have better examples to share with students, as this is the first project of its type in our program, so students are as accustomed to this type of design.

A really successful part of this project was the exhibition at the end of the project.  Students shared their campaign and learning with a large part of our community and it was great to hear the students articulate their learning and seeing how passionate many students had become.  We think that a few of these project will continue further as events or projects for clubs and CAS and we are excited that this project was a catalyst for these ideas.

One Day 2018

One Day is a day middle schoolers go off schedule and design their own learning and creating for the day.  This year we changed it a bit and asked teachers to develop a framework through a guiding question.  Students should develop some new skills and have the ability to create their own designs and products within that theme.

Ski Nanshan

The topics we offered this year were:

Top Chef: How can you improvise, revise or create a recipe?

Stopmotion Animation: How do I make a meaningful stop motion movie?

Paper Quilling: How can we present traditional Chinese elements and patterns through western style art form?

Creating Comics: How can we create a dynamic comic that tells a story?

Out of the Blocks: What does an entire city block sound like? Tackle that question, by documenting the stories, voices, and people who populate the block across from ISB.

Write On!: How do you bring your writing to life? What can you create using the written word?

Make a Game: How do we create a new game, simulation, or instructional platform that is interesting, useful, and is challenging enough to offer its players multiple outcomes?

Fitness Fun: How can we make fitness fun and less time consuming? Design a fitness workout/exercise planner/new sport.

Music 4 Change: How can we collaborate,express our passions, and raise awareness for an issue through creating music together?

Making with Clay: What can you make with clay, with new skills on the wheel, with an extruder, and slab roller?

Precious Plastic: How can we give new life and utility to a waste product that is causing massive environmental destruction?

Curious Garden: How can the simple act of creating a bottled garden positively impact our mindfulness and wellbeing in our
everyday lives?

Rollercoaster Car Racing: How will the principles of physics (Newton’s Laws of Motion) affect a car running on a roller coaster track?

DIY Skincare: How can we make skincare products ourselves and what impact does this have on our health and the environment?

Handy Textiles & Giftmaking: How can you hand-craft a gift for a special someone?

Just Dance! Students will collaborate and choreograph or learn and perform a dance. They will choose a dance genre and

Shunyi Photography: How can photographs tell a story?

Ski Nanshan: How can you challenge your ski skills?

Go Karting: How can I improve my driving/karting techniques?


Previously, students were able to choose anything they wanted to do, but it was often difficult for some students due to a variety of reasons. Most commonly, students struggling without a more solid framework due to being new, language proficiency, student support or lack of ideas/motivation.  In the past we have had some great projects, but we have had a number of students playing Minecraft all day or choosing something that ultimately didn’t have a purpose or ended up in the trash.  While we can still tweak the logistics and organization of the day, it is a great day and so amazing to walk around to see what students are choosing to learn and create.  Students were focused, happy and created great things when they had voice and choice in what they could do for One Day. Depending on the activities, some teachers were even able to participate in the creating and learning.


Grade 9: Energy Transfer Engineering Project

This year is the first year that our grade 9 Science course follows the NGSS standards and includes Engineering Standards.  The grade 9 Science teachers worked with the Design Facilitator to develop an engineering task for students to demonstrate their understanding of energy transfer by designing a device or toy.

Here are a few examples of student reflection videos:


Grade 9 Engineering Challenge


This year, as a part of our newly integrated Science course, our Grade 9 students learned about energy transfer.  For the first time, students participated in an engineering challenge to demonstrate their understanding of these scientific concepts.

The NGSS standard was:

The Engineering task was: Design and Create a toy or device that demonstrates energy transfer.

It was a very successful unit, with students creating wind up toys, solar cars, bubble machines, kinetic energy transformers and more.

As teachers, we also learned a lot. It was really difficult to manage 130 students working on independent projects, all requiring different materials and techniques.  Even between the Science and Design labs, we still felt like we could have used more space!

Vector Drawing for Teachers: TTT Resources

Vector Drawing is a great skill to have for both students and teachers to design/create high quality graphics and create images that can be read by our laser cutter and vinyl cutter.  In this session, teachers learned basics on Adobe Illustrator and played with the software to make stickers, signs or keychains.  It will be interesting to see how these tools and techniques are used more in the classroom.




HS BEAD Math Project

Class feedback session

Students in the Business, Engineering, Arts and Design (BEAD) Math class were given a design challenge to either:

  1. Design a game OR
  2. Design an accessory

A prototype for a personalized “Guess Who” style game for a Grade 3 class to practice their language and mathematics skills

These products had to have authentic purposes and students needed to find their own clients.  Students followed the ISB Design Process and continually sought feedback by connecting with their clients to improve their prototypes.

Students learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to vector draw

Ines designing jewelry for her mother.

EAL 9-10 & Design Project

Alex creates his final design – a portable step stool for Mrs. Monroe


Grade 9 & 10 EAL class found teacher clients to follow the design process and create a product needed by their teachers.  They developed their language skills through authentic tasks such as interviewing, summarizing, reflecting and inquiring.  Students designed and create a variety of products that their teachers could use in their classrooms.


Students kept a process journal and documented their whole design process.


A student designed and learned how to use the laser cutter to create a suction cup protractor for his math teacher

ONE DAY or another

Grade 6 students OneDay project: Create ISB in Minecraft
One Day is an opportunity for middle school students at ISB to Design and Create their own learning for the day based on their interests.

I was fortunate this year to “take over” this event from our Assistant Principal who has facilitated this for the past few years.  It was an easy “YES” when I was asked to consider helping with One Day.

The most difficult challenge I had was trying to organize 450 students and about 50 teachers to make this event successful.  I took feedback from teachers on previous OneDays and tried to make minor revisions based on that feedback and my own experiences  with student driven project based learning, as a MYP Design Teacher and Personal Project Coordinator.

I wanted teachers to have ownership over OneDay since a lot of the success of this project hangs on them.  I led an informational session and gathered feedback and suggestions from teachers in November.  Then after One Day, I held another feedback session, where I gathered a lot (too much, maybe) information from teachers regarding strengths, weaknesses and where we want to go with OneDay in the future.









Overall, I was really happy with One Day and I felt that a majority of the student projects were done well for the amount of time that they had to create – really only about 5 hours.  I am still left a lot of questions:

Originally I wanted to try to stretch out OneDay into a week-long experience, very much like our Future’s Academy’s Ignite Weeks, but they are exhausting to facilitate and it would leave some amazing mentors out of the picture for other grade levels, like one of our grade 6 teachers who is an amazing fashionista and clothing designer.

I also love the idea of walking around school and seeing EVERY middle schooler creating at the same time, there is definitely something very special about the idea.

So, in the next month, I will meet with the middle school teachers with a proposal for next year’s OneDay…  and then start planning for next year!


Innovation Day – ArtBot Design Workshop

Last month, ISB hosted the first ever Innovation Expo.  It was a super successful event inviting anyone in Beijing to come and learn more about the great innovation going on at ISB.

It was an opportunity to see student work and there were many hands-on spaces for kids to tinker, play, create and design.


For this first workshop, I ran a design challenge workshop where kids had the challenge of creating an artbot that made original art.  It was a simple enough task for younger students but allowed for a lot of tinkering and iterations for more refined art and change in design.

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