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Planning your Lab Practicals: 40 hours of Practicals for the New IBDP Biology Course

One of my favourite things about teaching Science, and the main reason why I don’t teach Math or French (yes, I am a qualified French teacher) is because I love labs! I love to do them, to plan them, to design them, to help students analyze them and to try to figure out the best way for students to develop their investigation skills and reinforce key concepts of the course content at the same time. In summary: I love all the labs!

Since beginning my career in international education, this love of labs and planning them has become an important skill. Most international schools order laboratory materials and manipulatives from abroad 6 months to a year in advance. At my current school in Morocco we place the orders in January for the upcoming school year and still sometimes the orders don’t clear customs and get to our classrooms until November or December of the following school year. This year’s order for IBDP Biology, IBDP Physics & IBDP Chemistry was very tricky to complete with three brand new subject guides to deal with. Luckily, our administration gave us an extension of the order deadline for these three courses taking into account the wait for the new subject guides and the substantial amount of time it takes to turn a syllabus into a Practical Scheme of Work. Once the guide came out each teacher took a weekend to read it over and then a full school day to go through the guide and make sure we had the materials for 20 hours of SL Practicals and 20 more hours of HL Practicals in all three courses.

These many hours of work led to the following list (also available below in Excel) where I connected the specific objectives (using the new IBDP Biology alpha-numeric codes) to the different labs, simulations or activities that would help to build on the specific skills outlined in the syllabus or help build understanding of the concepts described. While it was relatively easy to get to 20 hours for the SL students, those 20 additional HL hours were not so easy to plan. I used Vernier lab books, modifications of labs I used for the old syllabus (most of the required practicals are still included as applications and skills) as well as some new labs and online simulations to address specific skills which may be too complex to measure in the lab or would cause an issue with the IBO's Animal Experimentation policy (check out the virtual leech neuron action potential speed lab in the list).

_New IB Biology Lab & Materials List First Exam May 2025
Download XLSX • 76KB

Since the main purpose of this important work was to figure out the materials we needed to order I then had to go through the materials and make note of what we already have, what we need and what we can actually get (chemicals, enzymes & live specimens are not permitted to enter Morocco). The end result is this google sheet (embedded above), I have set it up to automatically calculate the number of hours in the SL and HL columns so you can make a copy and modify it for your own school's lab equipment and materials needs. Feel free to download the excel sheet it, or make a copy of the Google Sheet and use it to figure out your lab practicals for next year.

I hope this post was helpful for you, I will be continuing to post about the new IBDP Biology course for the next several months and as well as make new and varied teaching resources for the course which you will find in my TPT shop. Good luck sorting out your labs and getting the materials you need for this, new and exciting syllabus!

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds!

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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