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The Group 4 Project: Bringing the IBDP Sciences Together!

One of my favourite parts of being an IBDP science teacher (and the team leader for Sciences at my school) is the Group 4 Project! It's so much fun to give the students the opportunity to collaborate creatively and work together to investigate a topic in the Sciences without the pressure of a grade. It's all about collaboration, communication and reflecting on their experience. I have been lucky enough to participate in the Group 4 project at two different schools - CIC in Venezuela & RAS in Morocco and each school approaches the project differently depending on the school's schedule and the Science courses offered.

The IBDP Subject Guide for each course offers detailed information on the requirements and expectations of the Group 4 Project, in the Biology Guide you can find it on page 161. There are a few key things to make note of if you are unfamiliar:

  • It is a mandatory component of the IB Diploma for all Group 4 students (ESS students are not required to participate)

  • The purpose is for students from different branches of science to work together to analyze a common topic or problem, the emphasis in the entire 10 hour experience should be on the process, not the outcome

  • If a class size is particularly large several Group 4 projects can be run at the same time, but they should all include students from different courses to encourage the interdisciplinary collaboration that is the purpose of the project

  • While I love to do a practical and turn the project into a fun trip it can be done in class using scientific theories rather than a laboratory-type investigation

  • If you are close to another IB school working together can be a cool experience and is encouraged by the IBO

  • The project is broken down into three main stages, the "Planning", "Action" and "Evaluation" stages, to be described later

  • The only requirement for upload to the IBO is a reflection form completed by students at the end of the project

My first experience with the Group 4 Project was at a small international school in Caracas, Venezuela where we only offered IBDP Biology & IBDP Chemistry, at this school we took 1.5 school days to do the project in November of Year 2 of the IB Diploma. The idea being that at this point students had learned enough about the sciences to apply their knowledge and skills to the Group 4 project, but it was still far enough from IB exams that missing some class wasn't a huge deal. Students did a comparative study of two rivers in Caracas, with the Biology students focusing on the ecological component of the river and the Chemistry students focusing on the chemical properties of the water itself. The students collected data on site and took some samples back to the lab to analyze. They then put together a group presentation on their findings to share with younger science students.

After a two year break from the Group 4 project (due to Covid cuts) last year my students here in Morocco decided to investigate the science of a trampoline park. At RAS we currently offer IBDP Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Sports, Exercise & Health Science so the theme or topic of the Group 4 Project must be one which can be investigated from all of these angles. Since the school is larger and there are more students to manage we group the students ahead of time into groups which include students from each of the Science courses so that each group can come up with a research question related to the central topic (in this case the trampoline park, pictured below).

At RAS we have a week of school after the end of year final exams and it is during this week that we have chosen to conduct the Group 4 project so that it has the least impact on other IB classes. Students complete the planning stage of the project in May before their Grade 11 exams, then after exams we take a full day to complete the data collection (and have some fun) and then a half day to complete the evaluation. We have also decided to have our Year 1 students present their findings to our current Grade 10 students, this gives the Grade 10 students some ideas for when they enter the IB Diploma and do the Group 4 project themselves the next year.

Stage 1: Planning

This stage is fairly self explanatory and simple, students & teachers come up with a central topic for the investigation. We tend to do this over a couple of short 20 minute meetings, the first one being to introduce the project, then we ask the students to brainstorm a list of ideas together. At the second or third meeting students vote on the central topic for the project (from a teacher-approved list) and then students work in their groups (chosen by me) to plan their particular research question related to the central topic. Students will send a list of materials and a methodology for their investigation to me and our laboratory technician and then we forget about it until after exams.

Stage 2: Action

The action stage is my favourite and should last about 6 hours, we tend to do it in a single day with a field trip to collect data and have some fun as a class. We use our Vernier probes to collect data, take a lot of photos and have each group check in with a teacher throughout the process to make sure they are meeting their goals, actively collaborating and collecting enough data to answer their research question.

Stage 3: Evaluation

This stage is all about sharing their findings, successes and failures with other students (in the case of my school we share with the Grade 10 students & the other Year 1 IBDP students). We like to do the presentation (symposium) in the auditorium since it lends an air of importance to the project. You can see a sample of a presentation from last year below. You will also need to have your students complete the reflection form (below), it will need to be uploaded to the IBO and I highly recommend making it an exit ticket for the project, it is much harder to get these completed by your students if you wait too long, they'll forget what to reflect on!

Group 4 Project Exemplar
Download PDF • 3.37MB

Group 4 Reflection Form 4CCS – Sciences Individual candidate cover sheet
Download PDF • 651KB

This year my Year 1 students are in the Planning Stage of the Group 4 Project and they have selected the central topic of science at the beach, many groups are investigating different impacts of surfing, kayaking or other sport activities that can be done at the beach. Since we continue to offer Biology, Chemistry, Physics & SEHS and we happen to be right on the Atlantic ocean this is a good choice for us. To help you better understand the process I have included the timeline and calendar we are using this year below. This may act as a guideline for how you can break the project down into its different components at your own school. It also includes the initial ideas of the eight groups we have made so you can see how each group is tackling a slightly different research question of our central topic: the beach.

RAS Group 4 Project Timeline May_June 2023
Download PDF • 94KB

I hope that this post helps you get excited about the Group 4 project and you are able to get out there and have fun with your students! The IB Diploma is a stressful academic program and if you can use the Group 4 project as a way to get off campus and have some fun it can be really great for morale and group bonding! I can't wait for our project this year and if you follow me on Instagram you'll be sure to see many pictures during the process.

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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