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Chinese Exchange Students Learn by Doing from Norton Elementary Scholars

Chinese Exchange Students Learn by Doing from Norton Elementary Scholars
Posted on 07/18/2018
Norton Elementary School students from San Bernardino and Chinese exchange students participate in some hands-on fun with Keeson-owned Ergomotion products as part of a special summer program.

Norton Elementary School sixth-grader Selina Vasquez never imagined she would one day share her love for STEM with Chinese children.

A unique summer exchange program started by Principal Elizabeth Cochrane-Benoit made it possible for Selina and about 60 fellow Norton students to spend two weeks in July immersing seven Chinese students in educational activities related to science, technology, engineering, and math, better known as STEM.

The program, thought to be the first of its kind for foreign exchange students in elementary school, is the culmination of two years of collaboration between Cochrane-Benoit and Guohai “Jack” Tang, the CEO of Chinese high-tech company Keeson Technology Corporation. The seven children who traveled more than 6,000 miles to San Bernardino are the children of Keeson employees, some of whom work as engineers and utilize the very state-of-the art technology that Norton students use in class. The exchange program, which was jointly funded by SBCUSD, Keeson, and the families of the exchange students, began on July 16 and ends July 28.

“We’re teaching the students to use 3D printers and they’re teaching us how to speak Chinese,” Selina said. “We’re excited that we might end up going to China as exchange students.”

Norton teachers and students are showcasing technology like computer-aided design and 3D printers to show the exchange students how STEM education and applied learning have transformed education at the downtown San Bernardino school.

“They’re so impressed with all that our Norton students are doing in elementary school,” Cochrane-Benoit said. “The technology our students use on a daily basis is the same technology Keeson employees are using.”

Students are also participating in daily field trips, including one to Keeson-owned company Ergomotion in Redlands, which manufactures technology for adjustable beds. 

San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden welcomed the students to Norton by greeting them in their native Mandarin through an online interpretation app.

“I’m pleased to welcome our young people from China,” Marsden said. “I’m so glad that we can participate in this exchange opportunity.”

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