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Northbridge Grade 12 students take science into the field at Kirirom National Park

Diego Mahecha
Diego Mahecha (10 posts) Secondary Science Curriculum Leader, Science MYP and Physics DP Teacher View Profile

On January 17 and 18, a group of 40 Northbridge International School Cambodia students from Grade 12, their Biology, Physics and Chemistry teachers along with our lab technician, visited Kirirom National Park and carried out scientific investigations that looked at a variety of factors ranging from height and diameter of native trees, levels of acidity and temperature of the soil around the park and observations of fauna and flora. The common factor this year was to propose an investigation linked to one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Science

The Group 4 project is a compulsory component of the Sciences in the Diploma program that has gained popularity among students because is a collaborative one and is completely student-led. Teams with representatives from the three Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) are formed and students plan and carry out an investigation of their choice to apply experimental and analytical skills they have learned in their respective courses.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Science

After a very early departure from school (6am!), the group arrived to Kirirom National park and spent the morning collecting data as we hiked for about 3 hours. Some students focused their data collection on small areas near the hiking path while others needed to do measurements up to 3 km away from the camping site. Mr Diego, Mr Kohulan, Ms Silvia and Ms Thida supervised the activity and made sure that all the experiments were carried out safely.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Science

The collection of data and its analysis involved the use of technology like temperature probes, colorimeters, pH-meters and different laboratory equipment that was brought to the park for students to be able to measure the variables that they had previously chosen for their investigations. This allowed them to use their practical skills outside the classroom and experience what it is like to do scientific work in environments where there is less control on the variables involved.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Science

As a result of the analysis of data, some of the initial hypotheses were confirmed and some others had to be rejected since data showed significant discrepancies. The analysis presented by the groups in all cases involved a detailed account of the different reasons why sometimes the data does not behave as expected and ways to improve their investigations if they were to be reproduced. The answers given to the different research questions also linked to the SDGs and proposed ways to get cleaner water, get healthier soils or grow plants in a more effective and healthy way.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Science

The presentations were a great learning moment for everyone involved as the audience kept a critical but very constructive approach when giving feedback. New improvements were pointed out, the explanations of results were refined, new questions were proposed and in general all groups benefited from this peer review experience which is essential in the sciences.

Not all IB schools take students out for the Group 4 project but at Northbridge we are ambitious and believe that exposing students to real environments out of their comfort zone is a way to further develop their scientific skills and promote an ambitious mindset. We’re already excited about the next G4P trip!