Pioneering Spirit Awards

1.5 Million RMB Given for Student-Learning Projects

What do Farming Robots, Amazon Echo Dots and Sugata Mitra’s SOLE labs have in common? These are just some of the projects funded in the coming academic year as part of the inaugural cohort of Pioneering Spirit Grant initiatives at Dulwich College International (DCI) schools.

Spearheaded by Group Head of Educational Technology (Staci Kalmbacher) and Director of IT (Dean Dhinsa), DCI school and sister school teachers and librarians were invited to submit Pioneering Spirit grant proposals to develop pedagogy, curriculum and/or learning environments that utilize new technologies, delivery methods or tools to contribute to student success. 1.5 million RMB was available for individual teachers or collaborative groups to fund innovative ideas to improve students’ learning experiences.

A major highlight within the funded projects will be the launch of SOLE Dulwich, a project led by Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi teacher Sarah Leonard in partnership with the renowned educational researcher Sugata Mitra, which will see SOLE learning spaces developed across three DCI schools. Other projects include the incorporation of technology in physical education classes to improve performance at our colleges in Seoul and Suzhou, and sustainability-focused initiatives in micro-power generation and hydroponics in Yangon.

Staci Kalmbacher commented,“To create a culture of innovation, we need to listen to teachers’ ideas, then give them the resources they need to make those ideas a reality. It’s going to be incredible to watch the development of these initiatives over the coming year.”

Dulwich College International seeks to champion a culture of innovation by promoting, fostering and recognizing innovative approaches to learning with technology – approaches that ultimately put students first, encourage collaborative development and promote the belief in our “One College, Many Campuses” philosophy.

It was a great honor for Dulwich International High School Suzhou to have three projects receive the Pioneering Spirit Grant. These teachers combine cutting-edge technology and teaching tocreate great opportunities for students to develop their skills inside and outside of the classroom. Here is some information about the three award-winning projects:


Peter: We want to buy robotic farms to build with inside the school

Adam: The idea behind it is to link robotic and sustainability as those are the two main challenges in 21st century.

Mike: I really feel like our students can utilize this open-ended project to practice their skills beyond their curriculum as well as inside the curriculum, such as programming, presenting their ideas, and robotics. Many of the ideas also extends to younger students in Dulwich family, so our students can impart their knowledge and skills to younger students, to empower them and train them.

Adam: A lot of it is about bringing theories in the classroom and then applying it in the project, the only limit is the limit the students put on themselves. Because it is an opensource project, they can take the lead on with very little adult supervision.

Smart English Learning Devices

Hetal: As a joint project between Dulwich International High School Suzhou and Dulwich College Suzhou, we will use Amazon Echo voice recognition software to help students practice speaking English.

Jacob: We really hope that through participating in this project and through this research, we’ll be able to find different ways to build students’ confidence, use the things they learnt when they were actually speaking, we want students to transfer the knowledge to their daily speaking, so it can help them improve their English, which will lead to better academic performances in all of their subjects.

SOLE Project

SOLE stands for self-organized learning environment and it represents a student-centered method of teaching. The roles of students and teachers reverse in SOLE. The teacher asks the students a question and the students have to spend time working together, researching to develop an answer. Finally, each student shares their discoveries with the group. Through this method, the students are able to develop a deep and unique insight into the topic of their studies.

For students at DHSZ, this method exposes them to a more creative, university level of working. Students will develop collaborative skills as well as researching skills, all in English. Teachers can choose to bring their class to the SOLE when they feel it is an appropriate fit for the curriculum. This way, students will have the chance to SOLE in all types of subjects and learn to research in many different ways.

Please find below the list of all 12 Pioneering Spirit Grant proposals funded this year, alongside the associated project leader and school(s).

2017-18 Pioneering Spirit Grant projects

  • Hydroponics – Elena Cozzi: DulwichCollege Yangon.
  • Mobile Makerspaces –Lauren Bull: Dulwich College Suzhou and Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.
  • DUCKS WoHui Reading eBooks Project –Brenda Zhou, Dulwich College (Singapore).
  • PE21:Reflection Centred Learning – Jessica Richards: Dulwich College Suzhou.
  • Micro-Power Generation –Matthew Grace: Dulwich College Yangon
  • Pioneering Spirit and Poetry – Celia Shephard: Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.
  • SOLE Dulwich – SarahLeonard: Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, Dulwich International High SchoolSuzhou and Dulwich International High School Zhuhai.
  • Farmbot – Peter Wynd: DulwichInternational High School Suzhou, Dulwich College Suzhou and Dulwich College(Singapore).
  • PE Technology Innovation – Matthew Barry: Dulwich College Seoul.
  • Textile Technology –Kathryn Hall: Dulwich College (Singapore).
  • Adapted Learning Classroom – Matthew Harris: Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.

Improving the Communicative Competence of ESL Students through Effective Practice – Jacob Huckle: Dulwich International High School Suzhou and Dulwich College Suzhou