Across China: China solidly advances rural scientific education

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BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- On the playground of a town school in Tanghe County, central China's Henan Province, a bus full of science kits stopped by, drawing a crowd of pupils around eager to explore its inside.

After a while, several robots were carefully unloaded from the bus and started to dance with consistent moves. The children watched cheerfully and burst into laughter as one of the robots accidentally fell.

The bus was not a performance troupe of any kind, but rather a mobile science class jointly organized by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the China Science and Technology Museum, and the online platform of Douyin, aiming to sow seeds of passion for science among children in the country's vast rural areas.

Since February this year, thanks to the joint initiative, scientists, popular science talents, and science museum staff have walked into 18 town schools in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and Henan and Gansu provinces.

Astrophysicist Wu Xiangping, who has traversed China's remote middle and western regions for popular science work, said rural children are just as curious as their urban peers in science classes, calling for more scientific education resources in remote areas.

In May last year, the MOE and other departments released a document on China's plans to strengthen scientific education in primary and secondary schools, vowing to ensure a more sound system is in place in three to five years.

Lv Guofan, chairman of the Henan Association for Science and Technology, said rural areas are mostly faced with lack of qualified teachers and equipment for scientific education.

A survey conducted by the MOE in 2021 covering 31 provincial-level regions across the country showed that science teachers at primary schools mostly lack related educational background.

In June 2021, the State Council issued an action plan for improving the scientific qualities of nationals from 2021 to 2035, vowing to expand recruitment of college students majoring in scientific education and online training of science teachers. According to the document, 100,000 science tutors would be trained each year at the grassroots level.

Experts said many schools have been exploring their own methods for improving scientific education. Some suggest that schools start with the real situations in the countryside, such as learning more about farm crops and poultry for the first step.

Zhang Jiantao, teacher of a town school in Gushi County, Henan, gained notable fame for his novel science classes by turning rubbish bins into drones and water bottles into "water-propelled rockets," and so on.

A former mathematics teacher, Zhang volunteered to focus on teaching science for the school's curious and inquisitive students, who are mostly left behind by their city-bound working parents in the care of aging grandparents.

"The kids really love experiments," Zhang said. "After doing experiments together, they are now more open to me and focus better in classes." Enditem

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