BEIJING, April 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by China.org.cn on China’s rural education:
Trashcan drones, water rockets made out of plastic bottles, DIY “wandering balloons”… These are showcases of science projects completed at an elementary school in Gushi County, Henan Province.
The ingenious teacher who led students in these projects is Zhang Jiantao. What distinguishes him is that he teaches in a rural school where out of the some 1,400 student body, over 80% are children left behind by their parents who work away from home most of the time.
Rural schools usually lack the necessary wherewithal for science education, such as apparatuses for experiments due to limited budgets. To intrigue students about science, Mr. Zhang will collect “waste” on school grounds in his daily life — used ping pong balls, straws and so on — and save them as materials for possible science experiments in the future.
These science projects that reuse waste objects have made Mr. Zhang’s science class a place of fun and joy. Besides the science projects displayed at the beginning, there are other interesting demonstrations, such as an “air cannon” made using cartons and cans, and a “static octopus” that runs on charging by friction. Through these fun experiments, the teacher has imparted knowledge on students like the pattern of sound waves and Bernoulli’s principle.
Zhang Jiantao has gained many likes from netizens. But what touched people is not only Mr. Zhang’s intriguing way of teaching, but also how through his deeds, opened up a door to science for these rural left-behind children, igniting their science dream.
Statistics show that in 2021, there were over 11.99 million left-behind children who were attending compulsory education in rural areas. But the fact is, a rather huge gap still exists between rural and urban schools in education resources and facilities, with art and science education being even weaker links in rural institutions.
For three years, Zhang Jiantao has brought over 100 science projects to his students leveraging this waste-recycling model. This year, he plans on compiling a textbook for the school he works at tailored to the circumstances of rural students, so that more children in rural areas could taste the charm of science. For a science teacher, maybe some DIY science projects don’t seem that challenging, but what really makes Zhang stand out from the rest is his commitment to staying in the countryside and contributing his bit to overcoming challenges in rural education.
“Dream weavers” like Zhang Jiantao are not rare in rural China. Yang Yu, a rural schoolteacher in Luanping County, Hebei Province, the only music teacher in her school at that time, transformed each of her classes into an experience of emotions and scenarios. She planted the seeds of music in the hearts of the left-behind children, and even brought her students to perform nationally. Math teacher Wu Xianzhou from Xinzhou Town, Danzhou City in Hainan Province, self-taught computer-programming lessons so he could teach his students and enrich their extra-curriculum choices. Under his proposal, computer-programming for children have become a special course offered at his school.
Rural education largely relies on these ordinary people with extraordinary minds. Meanwhile, China is encouraging more and more “dream weavers” through measures like training programs and income enhancement, to help even more children pursue their dreams.
Dream Weavers in the countryside: Lighting up Scientific Dreams for Children