Under the theme of “How The World Works” with the central idea “Problem solving leads to inventions and innovation”, PYP 5 students are currently learning about invention and problem solving. To support students’ understanding of these concepts and in an attempt to foster transdisciplinary collaboration in Mandarin class, students inquired into the invention of the printing press, one of the four great Chinese inventions. The first type of printing press was invented by a Chinese man named Bi Sheng and later improved upon by Johannes Gutenberg of Germany.
As a provocation activity, students were given one Chinese character (e.g. 王, 白, 林), and asked to make as many identical copies as possible in a very limited time. To accomplish this mission, the students tried different methods, such as measuring and copying. During reflection time, they realized that making identical copies in a limited amount of time was not at all an easy or efficient thing to do.
Then we had a discussion focused on the question: how can we make this job easier? Students came up with the idea of making a stamp which is actually a simplified version of a printing machine. Students created their own stamps using available materials. Once they had finished their stamps, they tried the same task again which was to make multiple copies of the Chinese character. In conclusion, they realized it is much easier to do this task using the stamp which in turn explains how simple machines can help us to solve many problems and make our jobs easier.
This inquiry did not only show the invention of printing but also extended into studies into chinese language and culture. It gave students good insights into how problem-solving leads to inventions and innovation, while giving them an opportunity to explore Chinese culture and heritage.
By Karina Wiguna Atmaja
Sekolah Ciputra, Surabaya