The group 4 project is a collaborative activity where students from different group 4 subjects work together on a scientific or technological topic, allowing for concepts and perceptions from across the disciplines to be shared in line with aim 10 - “to encourage an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and the overarching nature of the scientific method”.
The project can be practically or theoretically based. The group 4 project allows students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science and technology. It may also allow them to understand the limitations of scientific study, for example, the shortage of appropriate data and/or the lack of resources. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary cooperation and the processes involved in scientific investigation, rather than the products of such investigation.
The choice of scientific or technological topic is open but the project should clearly address aims 7, 8 and 10 of the group 4 subject guides. Ideally, the project should involve students collaborating with those from other group 4 subjects at all stages. To this end, it is not necessary for the topic chosen to have clearly identifiable separate subject components. However, for logistical reasons some schools may prefer a separate subject “action” phase.
The 10 hours allocated to the group 4 project, which are part of the teaching time set aside for IA, can be divided into three stages: planning, action and evaluation.
This stage is crucial to the whole exercise and should last about two hours.
• The planning stage could consist of a single session, or two or three shorter ones.
• This stage must involve all group 4 students meeting to “brainstorm” and discuss the central topic,
sharing ideas and information.
• The topic can be chosen by the students themselves or selected by the teachers.
• Where large numbers of students are involved, it may be advisable to have more than one mixed
After selecting a topic or issue, the activities to be carried out must be clearly defined before moving
from the planning stage to the action and evaluation stages.
A possible strategy is that students define specific tasks for themselves, either individually or as members of
groups, and investigate various aspects of the chosen topic. At this stage, if the project is to be experimentally
based, apparatus should be specified so that there is no delay in carrying out the action stage. Contact with
other schools, if a joint venture has been agreed, is an important consideration at this time.
This stage should last around six hours and may be carried out over one or two weeks in normal scheduled
class time. Alternatively, a whole day could be set aside if, for example, the project involves fieldwork.
• Students should investigate the topic in mixed subject groups or single subject groups.
• There should be collaboration during the action stage; findings of investigations should be shared
with other students within the mixed/single subject group. During this stage, in any practically based
activity, it is important to pay attention to safety, ethical and environmental considerations.
Note: Students studying two group 4 subjects are not required to do two separate action phases.
The emphasis during this stage, for which two hours is probably necessary, is on students sharing their
findings, both successes and failures, with other students. How this is achieved can be decided by the
teachers, the students or jointly.
• One solution is to devote a morning, afternoon or evening to a symposium where all the students, as
individuals or as groups, give brief presentations.
• Alternatively, the presentation could be more informal and take the form of a science fair where
students circulate around displays summarizing the activities of each group.
The symposium or science fair could also be attended by parents, members of the school board and the
press. This would be especially pertinent if some issue of local importance has been researched. Some of
the findings might influence the way the school interacts with its environment or local community.
Selecting a topic
Students may choose the topic or propose possible topics, with the teacher then deciding which one is the most viable based on resources, staff availability, and so on. Alternatively, the teacher selects the topic or proposes several topics from which students make a choice.
Students are likely to display more enthusiasm and feel a greater sense of ownership for a topic that they have chosen themselves. A possible strategy for student selection of a topic, which also includes part of the planning stage, is outlined here. At this point, subject teachers may provide advice on the viability of proposed topics.
• Identify possible topics by using a questionnaire or a survey of students.
• Conduct an initial “brainstorming” session of potential topics or issues.
• Discuss, briefly, two or three topics that seem interesting.
• Select one topic by consensus.
• Students make a list of potential investigations that could be carried out. All students then discuss issues such as possible overlap and collaborative investigations.
The group 4 project is to be assessed for the personal skills criterion only and this will be the only place where this criterion is assessed.
It is up to the school how this assessment takes place. At YBC we expect the groups to document and record the progress of the project using the media skills learned in IB1. Further a final presentation is to be made and could take the form of a Powerpoint or Pages presentation, a video or other media presentation.