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Students may get a crack at US science books
By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-03 05:48

Students in 10 primary schools may get a chance of learning some "good ole American know-how" in their science classes from the next academic year.

The China National Institute for Education Research is translating and editing a set of American textbooks "Science and Technology for Children" for a six-year trial in a pilot project, according to teachers who have been trained in the institute.

But Yu Bo, a senior researcher at the institute, declined to give details about the programme, saying that "no final decision has been made."

And the Ministry of Education, the authority to approve the programme, said it has not received any application for the use of the textbook in primary schools.

The 10 schools are in Beijing, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Tianjin municipalities; and Zhejiang, Hubei and Jiangsu provinces.

Beijing Primary School, the only one in the capital said to be part of the pilot project, confirmed to China Daily it would start using the new textbooks next year in Grade 1 and the students would continue with the new books till Grade 6.

Zhang Jun, a science teacher at the school, said she and teachers from other nine schools participated in a short training course on teaching the new books.

The teacher, who has read some of the books, said topics are explored in depth, and involve more student participation compared with the current books.

"Our science textbooks are designed to teach four to five topics a semester, while the American ones only have two," Zhang said.

Another difference is that the American books offer more opportunity to learn through experiments, she added.

In buoyancy, for example, the imported textbooks ask students to measure the weight of an object both in water and in normal atmosphere by using self-made weighing scales.

"But Chinese textbooks do not require pupils to make the scales on their own," Zhang said.

She thinks it is a positive move to learn from other countries. "China is reputed for teaching basic knowledge but lags far behind Western countries in terms of creativity. This trial may help us improve our teaching methods," Zhang said.

Xie Zhiyi, an 11-year-old boy at Beijing Fangcaodi Primary School who has a great passion for science, agreed with Zhang.

"All my classmates love science. We'd love to have a chance to do more experiments in class," he said.

Developed by the US National Science Resource Centre, the American textbooks cover four themes of science: life, earth, material and technology design.

Chinese primary students are taught science as a compulsory subject from Grade 1.

(China Daily 11/03/2005 page2)

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