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Group 4 Project 2011: “Our Choice, Our Future”



Based on “High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them,” by Jean-Francois Rischard. This is the theme of the 2011 EARCOS Global Issues Network Conference, and we will be sending two teams to represent the school at JIS in April. For these teams, the G4 Project will serve as preparation for their student-led workshops at the conference.

For all of us, it will be an interesting trans-disciplinary experience in real-world problem-solving using Science.

Let’s get working!


The Group 4 Project is a central part of the Group 4 Experimental Sciences. It is a chance to come together as scientists and think about how science can address pressing current issues. Thinking from an interdisciplinary point of view, students research and investigate the latest science and its potential impacts on the world.

The aim of the Group 4 Project is “To encourage an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and the overarching nature of the scientific method” (IB Biology Subject Guide, 2007)

To be successful in tackling current global problems and challenges, we must think from a truly trans-disciplinary point of view: within and beyond the sciences. We must consider the involvement of all stakeholders and make decisions based on reliable and authentic evidence. The role of the scientist is becoming increasingly important in policy decision making and communication to the public – and this is what we aim to model in our approach to the Group 4 Project.


It is also a great opportunity to develop international mindedness and the following aims of the experimental sciences:

Aim 7: “Develop and apply the students’ ICT skills in the study of science”

Aim 8: “Raise awareness of the moral, social, ethical, economical and environmental implications of using science and technology”

And, of course, it makes up 10 hours of your 4PSOW – which is essential for your Sciences course – and is the only opportunity to be assessed for the fourth internal assessment criterion, Personal Skills:



-This project is designed to be evidence-based and to demonstrate the level of your research skills. You must be able to support all information presented with sources. Access to databases will really help you.

Less is more when it comes to text. Graphics and datasets should form the basis of your presentation, with the factual exposition delivered in the oral presentation. Think about what kind of displays most engage you as the viewer.

Collaboration is key. For this reason, you will all need to understand and be able to present all aspects of the project. Plan together, share ideas and set targets for your work over two days. In the action phase, come together as a group regularly to share your work with your group, evaluate your progress and set further targets.

– Read up on current science, economical and environmental news beforehand. Think about the theme, choose a good topic and run with it.


Past themes: (click here for resources)

Each year, we choose a theme which allows for authentic trans-disciplinary links across the sciences and, as far as possible, Economics.

“How can Science help re-build a stable and sustainable economy?”

“How can Science aid progress towards the UN’s Millenium Development Goals?”

“How can Science help combat environmental damage?”

Cockermouth Floods 2009

Cumbria Floods Donations

This is not a science post, but if you’ve heard about the big floods that ran through Cockermouth, Cumbria (in the UK), over the last week then here is a chance to help out. There are some class project ideas at the end of the post.

Cockermouth is my home town in the UK and is the point where two rivers (the Cocker and the Derwent) meet. In the recent huge ranfall, both rivers bust their banks and flooded the whole Main Street and Market Places, as well as many residential areas. Some major bridges were destroyed, effectively turning the town into an island. Many people have been evacuated from their homes and the clean-up operation will take a long time. More damage was sustained by towns across Cumbria, including Workington and Keswick, and a policeman lost his life, trying to save others. The emergency services responded fantastically, saving many people – and their pets!

Here’s a video explaining why Cockermouth was hit so hard:

Cockermouth Aftermath

Cockermouth Aftermath

See some photo sets of the damage here:

BBC NewsEscape to Cumbria

Being on the other side of the world (Indonesia – which has more than its fair share of disasters recently), all I can think of to help is to encourage people give donations if they can. If you want to help out, please visit the Charities Aid Foundation website for the Cumbrian Community Foundation. I’d encouarage local IB schools to get involved in the clean-up operation, too.

Science/ Engineering links

Recent flooding and natural disasters give us a lot to think about as global citizens and scientists. Here are some ideas for projects and activities you could do in class related to the theme:

– How do flood defenses work?

– Design a flood-protection system

– How do we predict rainfall and rising water levels? How accurate are these predictions?

– How do emergency services respond to these events? How are they coordinated?

– Create a post-flood plan for a damaged town.

– What are the health risks of large-scale flooding? How can they be reduced?

Interdisciplinary Group 4 Project (IB) idea:

“How can science prevent, mitigate and aid recovery following natural disasters?”

One more Science link: Did you know that Cockermouth and the surrounding area were home to John Dalton, the father of atomic theory?

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