Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
28 days, 16 eighth graders, and 1 common goal, to learn about the culture and history of Xizhou. Out of a long list of inquiry topics, all sixteen of us chose one topic we were interested in. When I looked through the inquiry topic list, I continuously asked myself three questions: Am I actively engaged/connected with this topic? (Why?) What is the purpose of learning this topic? What would be the ending product of the learning and research? Eventually, I narrowed it to three topics I was interested in, wood carving/door making, weather in Xizhou, and local recreation/hobbies. I asked myself one final question: which one of these topics concern more of the population? I finally came down to one topic selection, weather. Here is an explanation for each topic:
After examining all the possible choices, I decided to explore the weather in Xizhou. Pollution often covers the blue skies of Shanghai, the factories and industries being at fault. In a less busy part of China, would the sky be just as grey or clear like the sea? Interactions between residents would be vital, as there are not many tools to use to understand and measure weather. The focus would be on the understanding of weather from the perspective of people in Xizhou. This topic would allow me to communicate with more citizens and learn more about the history of weather.
Apart from the weather, there were two other topics that caught my attention. Wood carving and door making was about the importance of wood carving culture for citizens of Xizhou as it developed through decades of time. The reason why I did not choose this topic is that this topic is only applicable to carpenters and this does not allow me to communicate with a larger population and learn more. The other topic, local recreation and hobbies, was about what people in Xizhou do after work and during free times to spend time and have fun. I did not choose this topic because it is slightly broader and has subcategories. Though the learning might be difficult to dig deeper, everything is pretty straightforward.
To prepare for this trip to be as best as it can, I took in consideration of blogs from Microcampus alumni. From what I read of previous Microcampus participant reflections like Sujin H. from B-4 group, I learned that our topic must be specified, we should have clear ideas and paths on what exactly we are learning about. I also read that Microcampus participants must be able to open up to people we do not know and we need to be willing to start conversations. It will get easier and more comfortable as it goes.
In Phase 0, I narrowed the topic selections to one in particular that I am interested in learning more about. In Phase 1, I will be coming up with real questions that would help me with my research and learning in Xizhou in March.