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IB Science Weekend: Learning at the Intersection of Science and Art

Rachel Brown ’20, Phoebe Johnson ’20, Charlotte Kim ’20, and Charlotte Spence ’20 present their findings during the IB Group 4 Science Project Symposium.

More than thirty-five students and teachers entered the Spruance-Alden Science Center on Friday, October 12, 2018 for International Baccalaureate (IB) Science Weekend. They were about to embark on an intensive two-day retreat to conduct art-themed experiments.

Once the theme was announced by the faculty, students in IB Environmental Systems and Societies, IB Physics, and IB Biology formed into eleven small, interdisciplinary teams to develop their own experiments.

“All IB science students must complete an IB Group 4 project where they design, construct, and implement a model to test their own hypothesis,” explained Polly Lodge, head of the Science Department and IB Biology teacher. The students spend ten hours on their projects and attend workshops about such topics as research best practices, statistics, and visual and oral presentation skills.

This year the students designed experiments to answer questions ranging from “how do different types of music impact heart rate” to “what is the relationship between temperature and paint viscosity” and “how does the toxicity levels compare between chemical and natural dyes” to “what is the relationship between wire diameter and frequency.” One group studied the effect of pH and sugar levels of tomatoes and how they affect taste preference.

“IB Group 4 was challenging, yet rewarding as my group and I were able to use our data to conclude that tomatoes with higher pH and sucrose levels are more preferable to the human taste bud,” said Bea Feichtenbiner ’19 who worked with Eshah Murtaza ’19, Lea Jensen ’19, and Olivia Vu ’19. “The data analysis took well over five hours, but we are proud of our work and were grateful for the chance to present our findings to our teachers, parents, and Mario Capecchi ’56, a Nobel Prize winner.”

Charlotte Spence ’20 worked with Rachel Brown ’20, Phoebe Johnson ’20, and Charlotte Kim ’20 to evaluate the levels of toxicity between homemade and chemical dyes.

“We made dyes from pokeberries and grass and tested them against Rit chemical dyes for pH, iron, copper, and chromium. We then used the T-Test to check our results to be sure they were not due to chance,” said Charlotte. “This weekend is about being a critical thinker and being open-minded. It is also about being smart with the resources you have.”

The students shared the results of their experiments with the George School community on Thursday, October 18 using presentation boards that outlined their Group 4 projects and their results.

“The goal of the IB Group 4 science project is to have students explore the concepts, theories, models, and techniques that underpin each subject discipline,” said Ralph Lelii, George School IB coordinator. “The project helps them deepen their understanding of the scientific method and encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social, and ethical implications of science.”

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