MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BLOSSOMS Kick Off in Japan!

June 6, 2015

By Richard C. Larson

Professor Richard (Dick) Larson and Dr. Tetsuro (Tetsu) Takahashi of Fujitsu Ltd. spent the week of June 1-5, 2015 initiating BLOSSOMS in Japan, in and near Tokyo. The Fujitsu Company supports the program and is the world's third largest IT services provider measured by revenues. Fujitsu’s initiative is a continuation and extension of support for BLOSSOMS, originally enacted under a 3-year contract to MIT. (2012- 2014)

The new BLOSSOMS effort is collaboration with the Higashi-Katsushika High School, Kashiwa city, Chiba pref., where eight science and mathematics teachers have agreed to use BLOSSOMS lessons and pedagogy in their classrooms and to start to design and create new BLOSSOMS lessons. In preparation of this exciting effort, seven existing BLOSSOMS lessons have already been voiceover-translated into Japanese and posted on the BLOSSOMS web site. We expect additional lessons to be translated in the near future.

On Tuesday June 2 the school principal, Mr. Hidenobu SUDA, welcomed Dick and Tetsu to the High School. To mark the special occasion, Dick gave Mr. SUDA an MIT pennant, which is now located on his office wall. (See photo) Also on that day they met with two biology teachers, Mr. Daisuke SUGAWARA and Mr. Tetsuo TAKAISHI, who have agreed to create the first BLOSSOMS lesson from the High School. They anticipate that their BLOSSOMS biology lesson will focus on human visual perception.

On Wednesday June 3 Dick and Tetsu met in Tokyo with five executives of the Japanese Ministry of Education. This two-hour meeting surfaced many areas of shared beliefs about the importance of active learning in science and math classrooms. The Ministry intends to emphasize that approach in the coming year, and we had fruitful discussions about how BLOSSOMS could play a supportive role in that effort.

On Thursday June 4 Dick and Tetsu met with about 20 students of the High School. These students are quite keen about making their own educational videos, and they had occasion to view parts of three translated BLOSSOMS videos. It is fair to say that they got really excited playing the role of in-class students in, How Big Is a Mole? Do We Really Comprehend Avogadro’s Number? After seeing segment #1, they quickly self-organized into teams of two and three and tried to tackle the question: “How many ping pong balls could be fit into one classroom in their High School?

Later on Thursday the other six teachers joined a new meeting. The splendid day ended with a traditional Japanese dinner at a local restaurant. All in all, we feel that the new collaboration with the Higashi-Katsushika High School is off to a great start!

Prof. Richard Larson with Hidenobu Suda, principal of Higashi-Katsushika High School.