Western International School Fair

The Western International School Fair features more than just science. There are business, history and math sections as well.

I’ve been working in Cambodia on and off for 6 years so now some of my former students are teachers. One of them teaches Physics at Western International School. Western International school has two campuses in Phnom Penh and several more in other cities. English is the language of instruction and Western is considered to be one of the better private schools.

My physics teacher friend invited me to the Western International School Fair. I arrived around 11 AM. The place was already buzzing with excited students, parents and community members. Since the science displays were in the courtyard by the entrance, I initially thought it was just a science fair. But, I discovered history displays and math displays along the outer walls of the courtyard.

A group of primary students presented their experiment on which medicine dissolves fastest in your stomach. They clearly rehearsed their presentation and they spoke English well but they didn’t think about the meaning of their experiment. When I asked them why the aspirin dissolved the fastest, they had no ideas.

Students put a lot of work into their displays and presentations. You can see some creative displays in this video.

I love the creativity in the vegetable body organs display. Unlike science fairs in the US, most of the displays focused on information rather than experiments. This video shows a group of middle school girls who made a microscope from their cell phone and a laser pointer lens.

I only saw two displays where students actually tested something: the first group I filmed and my friend’s seventh grade physics class.

The seventh grade physics students used engineering design principles to refine a balloon car. They were most proud of using their cell phones to clock the car’s speed. Ironically, their presentation and poster omitted the information about the design process. It surprised them to learn they had acted like engineers as they modified the design to make the car faster. Sadly, I didn’t video them because I didn’t want to intimidate them.

Math students also presented their work. This group used geoboards to prove theorems.

Students interested in business ran booths in the food court. One booth sold Harry Potter themed snacks. I bought some polyjuice potion which was quite good. I didn’t see any mirrors so I’m not sure who I turned into.


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