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PYP Exhibition: Unveiling Inquiry, Empowering Minds at SCIS

By Vincent Lehane, PYP Coordinator at SCIS Hongqiao 

At Shanghai Community International School (SCIS), our Grade 5 students complete the Primary Years Programme (PYP) Exhibition (PYPx), an in-depth student-led inquiry to demonstrate their understanding of an issue or opportunity they have chosen to explore.  

The PYP Exhibition Process of Learning 

At the start of the process, students are partnered with a teacher at SCIS and complete a Curiosity Conversation. This is a structured conversation to narrow down the students’ ideas for their Exhibition. Students begin with three big ideas and determine the direction of the inquiry. Grade 5 homeroom teachers use data from this conversation to form the PYPx groups that include students with similar curiosities which honor each member’s ideas and area of interest. 

Curiosity Conversations – Reflective Questions 

Once groups are formed, the Grade 5 students begin the six-week process of researching, documenting, thinking, and collaborating to complete their inquiry. Students are mentored by another PYP teacher at SCIS and encouraged to ask thoughtful questions, investigate diverse perspectives, and seek solutions to authentic problems. Through extensive research, they deepen their understanding of these complex issues and continue developing essential skills in critical thinking, information literacy, and communication skills. Finally, once they have gathered and analyzed their information the PYPx groups present their Exhibition to the SCIS community. 

On the day of the Exhibition, there are three important components; the Opening Ceremony, Presentations, and Interactive Experiences. The PYP Exhibition opening ceremony serves as a collaborative platform, bringing together students and teachers to celebrate the students' inquiry journeys and showcase their learning to the school community. This is followed by formal presentations, where students present their work, and interactive experiences, where students interact with their audience, answer questions and engage in conversations about their inquiry.  

Alongside academic growth, students develop essential research skills, communication, and critical thinking, establishing a strong foundation for success in the MYP and beyond. As they reflect on their PYP journey and anticipate the challenges and opportunities of the MYP, students embrace the process of inquiry, intercultural understanding, and global citizenship that underpins the IB framework.   


This shows the powerful effect when students are given a voice, choice, and ownership over their learning and take meaningful action related to their chosen issue.  

The PYP Exhibition is an important component of learning at SCIS as it provides our students the opportunity to: 

  • Celebrate Inquiry-Based Learning: Provides students an opportunity to engage in authentic inquiry and investigation into real-world issues or topics of personal interest. This promotes critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills as students explore and analyze complex questions. 

  • Promote Independent Learning: Students take ownership of their learning, working independently or in small groups to plan, manage, and design their projects. This encourages time management and gives students agency as they navigate the exhibition process from start to finish. 

  • Develop Collaborative Skills: Encourages collaboration and teamwork as students collaborate with peers, teachers, mentors, and community members to explore their chosen topic, gather information, and present their findings. This collaborative approach promotes communication, cooperation, and interpersonal skills. 

  • Encourage Personal Growth: Allows students to develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their interests, strengths, and areas for growth. It provides an opportunity for reflection, self-assessment, and personal goal-setting as students reflect on their learning and achievements throughout the exhibition. 

  • Create Internationally Minded Students: Focuses on globally significant issues, encouraging students to consider their roles as responsible and informed global citizens. Through their inquiries, students develop empathy, cultural awareness, and a sense of social responsibility as they explore solutions to local and global challenges and consider the impact of their actions on the world around them. 

The PYP Exhibition embodies the essence of inquiry-based learning, promoting the development of academic skills alongside personal growth and global citizenship. It is a pivotal moment in students' educational journey, empowering them to explore, collaborate, and make a difference. It is what makes our students IB students.  


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