The 2017-18 academic year provided 5th grade students at Soundview School an opportunity to set the bar high during our first PYP Exhibition. In the final year of the IB Primary Years Programme, students design an entire unit of inquiry based around a local or global issue of interest. The Exhibition is a way for students to demonstrate and synthesize the essential elements of the PYP through a culminating project at the end of their journey through the PYP.
As a provocation to this new and exciting culminating project, students were taken to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to hear about some of the world’s most relevant and current issues. We also invited members of the community to speak to the students about their own passions. Over the weeks following, students reflected on their own passions and interests in order to choose a focus for their Exhibition.
Under the transdisciplinary theme of Sharing the Planet, we had groups choosing to focus their inquiry around ocean pollution, bullying, nuclear weapons and waste, and education inequality. Students then engaged in the process of writing their own Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry, choosing key concepts, and asked guiding questions to help them focus their research.
Water pollution can lead to an impact on ocean habitats.
Bullying has an effect on relationships and emotions.
Technological advancements can have diverse side effects.
Education allows for equal opportunities throughout the world.
As a way to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and understanding for their topic, students wrote an opinion piece answering a debatable question related to their issue. They incorporated evidence from their research to form their own opinion. One student chose to focus on a question that I’m sure we’ve all heard asked before: “Should nuclear technology be banned?” His initial answer, thinking about nuclear weaponry and waste, was an easy yes! But over the course of his 8-week inquiry, he realized that “it isn’t quite as black and white as you may expect.”
At the end of the inquiry process, the school community and families were invited to come to the Exhibition where students showcase their new knowledge and raise awareness about their issue. Students of all ages were able to participate and have grown excited about their chance to engage in the Exhibition. Parents commented on the high level of independence, interest, and empathy for their issue and for each other.