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Exploring Space and the Science behind the Olympics

15 June 2016

Do you know the design of the next generation space rockets? What impact could the Zika virus have on the Rio Olympics? What can science do when a Solar Station is negatively impacting a local bird population?

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Year 12 Students at NAIS Pudong explored the answers to all of these questions whilst completing their Group 4 projects this week.  Group 4 refers to the Science and Technology stream of the IB Diploma Programme, and the Group 4 project gave our students a chance to work with their peers in small groups to explore and devise scientific solutions to problems. Students must look at the problem from different perspectives, encompassing Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Design and Technology. 

Inspired by NAIS Pudong’s collaboration with the UK National Space Academy, three groups of students elected to explore space related topics.  Students studied next generation rockets, created and tested their own rockets and explored the properties and efficiency of different fuels. One group of students even created “The Ultimate High School Rocket”.  The groups also studied the impact that space has an astronaut, the best diet for an astronaut, and explored the properties of an astronaut’s suit and came up with the best materials to use for spacesuits.  Our Year 12 students have much to share with the UK National Space Academy scientists on their next visit to NAIS Pudong. 

Two groups of students also chose to study the upcoming Olympics, and looked at issues such as the potential impact of the Zika virus on attendance at the Olympics, the design of stadiums in relation to access for audience members with disabilities, and the best stadium design for enhanced sound.  Students also studied the impact of performing enhancing drugs on athlete performance (using only caffeine, of course!) and created the ultimate Olympics Survival Kit. 

Our final group of students delivered a fascinating presentation on the Ivanpah Solar Station in California, which whilst generating renewable energy for the region, is also responsible for the sharp decrease in a local bird species due to the ambient heat.  The students recreated the solar station, explored the impact on the surrounding biological systems and explored alternative solar station models.

The students spent two and a half days formulating, researching and developing their projects, and then had to present the project and their findings to parents and staff.  We are so proud of their critical thinking, their creative solutions and the depth of their research – we know we have many budding scientists and technologists in this group!