Scientists are happier with exact things, like equations and constants. We can deal with theories which try to explain the best evidence of the day. Science teachers have no problems in assessing a pupil’s planning skills or their ability to collect or manipulate data. Calculations are easy to mark, as are conclusions and evaluations. Pupils love this kind of assessment too – it is clear, precise and they know what is expected of them.
But, this is the IB, which specialises in taking pupils and teachers alike out of their comfort zones and helps them to explore whole new aspects of their lives and encourages them to be more rounded individuals. The IB does not produce specialists, but pupils who can evolve in many ways into broad-minded adults with many different facets to their life experience. So, what has the ‘Group 4 project’ got to do with all this?
It’s all about personal skills…
Personal skills? To many people, scientists don’t have any personal skills at all! We are white-coated loners who spend our days dreaming up crazy theories which are incomprehensible to all but a handful of other people. Well, think again people! The IB has set out on a mission to transform the public view of ‘scientists’ for the better. We too have the ability to positively interact with other people, to collaborate with other team members in the pursuit of a common goal and to devise experiments with the intention of the betterment of our own environment. In fact, we are not Scientists at all, science is just one of many aspects of our lives. The Group 4 project is part of this mission, which is why it is a compulsory element of the IB Diploma Programme. Indeed, IB have even redefined what it is to be a scientist, as Sports, Exercise and Health Science and Design Technology are now part of the family of Group 4 subjects.
It took place on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th June 2015 and involved all forty-two Lower Sixth pupils, plus their esteemed beaks. The pupils arrived on Monday morning knowing virtually nothing of the trials which lay ahead of them – not the nature or title of their project or even the make-up of their team. This, of course, was all part of the plan. We throw them in at the deep end and see how they cope. As it turns out, they all did splendidly!
There were many highlights across the two days: Saihiel firing a water powered rocket onto the roof of the Science department, Kashmera being thrilled at making her very own plastic flip flop, Rudy using light gates to calculate velocity, Laura making biofuel and, of course, Alex almost setting fire to the Physics lab. All in the name of Science of course!
So, to the presentations. Informative, factual, colourful and most importantly, interesting. All pupils fully participated in the project and the testament to this is that the beaks concerned had very little impact on their investigations. The pupils were in control and thoroughly immersed for the whole two days. After a year of endless deadlines and practical write-ups, the hope is that these two days of open-ended Science investigation with no emphasis on whether anything actually worked or not, would re-ignite their passion for Science, and I believe that this goal was realised.
Oh, and personal skills. Well, let me just say that the IB pupils have them aplenty!
Head of Science