Reflections on the Group IV IB Science Project

by Ralph Lelii, IB Coordinator and English teacher

In the Theory of Knowledge titles for May 2016, one question asks about the value we assign to knowledge based upon its application in the world, and conversely, to what degree is it diminished absent that. The title is more subtle than at first glance because the terms “application” ” value” and “diminished” need to be carefully delineated. When talking to my students about the prompt, I referenced the possible utility of considering the Group 4 science project in their responses.

All students who participate in an IB science class must design, construct, and implement a model for testing an hypothesis. The IB’s goal in this is to have students explore the concepts, theories, models, and techniques that underpin each subject discipline, and through these develop their understanding of the scientific method.


This compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social, and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary and provides an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions.

To date, no student here at GS has found a treatment for pediatric glioblastomas during the course of their project. But for years, we have watched them stand guard over designs, anticipating, measuring, waiting, alternately failing and succeeding. The beauty of it, the sacred quality of it, lies in the intent. We are asking our students to think like scientists, to act like scientists, to understand the link between causality and correlation. Its application is not in hospitals or engineering labs; but its utility lies, I think, in its application to a love of science, of disciplined inquiry, of collaborative discovery. Application: one size fits all.

In my role as IB Coordinator, I proudly acknowledge the enormous effort this requires from our science colleagues: the logistics alone might frighten away men and women cut from lesser cloth. It is a beautiful thing to see, to watch, to encourage, and I am very grateful for their endurance and idealism and competency.

IB Science Weekend 2015: Sustainability

IB Science Weekend 2014: Pirates!


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