A Fishy Problem

Salmon is a big deal to the people of Sakhalin Island in Russia. The local fishing industry supplies 20% of global Pacific salmon and generates $500 million in personal income every year*. A group of Middle Years (aged 11-13) students at Sakhalin International School worked with students from the local, Russian speaking school to explore the issues that affect the local salmon industry.

Over five consecutive days students from both schools learned about and applied NXthinking and the NXplorer tools in mixed teams. The perspectives circle tool was great for getting the students exploring the issues and talking about them, especially as the students didn’t previously know each other at all. With help from experts they identified several things that had an impact on salmon stocks. They included illegal poaching, increased human population and infrastructure changes brought about by the development of the oil and gas industry in the area, and hatchery programmes. Using the connections circle tools they were able to recognise the relationships between the factors that were affecting the salmon’s delicate ecosystem. It didn’t take long before a section of the room was covered with post-it notes!

Each group created a change-over-time graph to capture what the probable future would be if the situation stayed as it was. Then the students identified two main points of leverage that they believed could bring about different futures – the natural environment and pollution. They used them to create possible future scenarios on the scenario quadrant tool.

The ripple effect and compass tools helped the students identify how change happens. Interestingly, several students chose to revisit some of the explore tools at this stage, to reflect on their own personal view of change.  The five days of NXploring ended with each group making a presentation to a panel of experts about what they had found out.

Afterwards the students were asked to share their thoughts about their NXplorer experience. The visit to the fish farm was definitely a hit, but the students also reflected on their greater awareness of issues.

The programme made me realise the types of problems that are happening prior to this day. Their purpose was to create fun but also productive methods to solve these problems.

Being given a new way of thinking and the tools to help them look at these problems was also a positive thing.

The NXthinking tools are a great way for us to think carefully about a certain subject while considering all the cons and views of others.

Working in partnership with another school was also welcome.

What I liked about this programme was the way we collaborated with the Russian students and the variety of techniques we used to create probable futures and how the effects of certain actions could be viewed in a simple way.

* Source: https://www.wildsalmoncenter.org/campaigns/sakhalin/

What next?

Following this pilot, the school has already planned more NXplorer projects for their students. They found the tools to be a really useful communication tool for learners with different language backgrounds and an effective structure for critical thinking and cooperative learning. Their top NXplorer tips:

  • keep all of the thinking on display for the duration of the programme as students often wanted to revisit their thinking

  • build in plenty of time for research, exploration and reflection.

How to become a NXplorer

The NXplorers programme is currently running in the following countries. If you are interested in becoming a NXplorers school, please contact us.

NXplorer Countries











Trinidad & Tobago