Reflections: Group 4 Project (IBDP Class of 2021)

As part of their science curriculum, our IB Grade 12 students conducted their Group 4 science project on the environment and waste management. Over two months – July and August 2020 – our students virtually collaborated with students from The Doon School, covering the entire spectrum of waste management. Here is a glimpse of everything that went into this project… the first every fully digital project for our school with reflections from the students themselves.

This year, due to the unavoidable global pandemic, we approached the Group 4 project a little differently. Our school collaborated with another IB school, the Doon School. We had to do almost all of our communication, collaboration, research and presentations online. I’m sure a lot of us were very apprehensive about how a science project could work without laboratories, chemicals, or measuring equipment. However, the teachers organized the entire process with careful planning and attention to small details, making it a month of engaging, exciting learning. We were divided into groups which had a mix of students from both schools, and were assigned to work on a particular science that we studied in the IB. Our overarching topic, ‘The Environment and Waste Management’, was definitely a topic that allowed us to research in all subject areas and formulate interesting and engaging research questions.

The group 4 project this year was an extremely enriching experience for a lot of reasons. Firstly, we were able to meet new people and engage in more hands-on learning through our interactions. We started off the project by introducing ourselves to each other through short video clips with fun facts about ourselves, which was a great way for us to get to know each other. Overtime, we made new friends, and learned to be open-minded, taking everyone’s suggestions into consideration. We had to improvise in a world where we had to do everything on our laptops, and having only the internet to collaborate and find information truly improved our communication and research skills. The project helped us build our interdisciplinary learning, as we were able to view a certain topic from multiple facets of science. We learnt about teamwork and how to split tasks, in a way in which everyone could play to their strengths, and help the team in the best way possible. As IB learners, we were critically engaged with world issues while doing this project. It was definitely one of the highlights of our IB curriculum, and an incredible experience overall.

Starting off with the Group 4 project this year, I was both ecstatic and apprehensive. From my very first year in secondary school, I was enamoured by the Group 4 exhibition, looking at the booths of my seniors thinking, "That’s going to be me one day." All my enthusiasm along with the impending challenge of doing such a daunting task online. More than anything, however, the opportunity of working with students from the Doon school was amazing to have.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group of people that gelled so easily. From the word go, my group jumped into action, fully diving into the process. It was a perfect balance of fun and determination but nothing inspired me more than the passion that we shared for the scientific process. BD and Doon students alike were helping each other raise the level of research and analysis; it din’t matter what your subject was, we were truly in it together.

I think that the best part of the Group 4 project was that, despite being done online and with secondary data, it really let us, as the leaders of tomorrow, understand the degree of damage humans are doing to the environment. We’re killing our home, at a rate that is growing far too rapid to control. But this project proved to me that we aren’t at the point of no return. With the right government policies and scientific innovation, we can undo the damage and find a more sustainable way of life. My group’s work with the management of medical waste, for example, proved to me that we can recover from mercury contamination of water bodies without having to spend too much money.

I think I really grew as a person through this process in two ways. Firstly, as a group coordinator, I became a more effective communicator, managing interactions between teachers and my group members to the best of my ability. The second is that I now have a more structured approach to global issues. It’s no longer simply a stop-polluting approach but an understanding of the steps involved in changing the systems that we follow to become eco-friendlier. In a very round-about way, Group 4 helped me really understand attributes that every IB student should have, and for that I am forever grateful.

The group 4 project was a very enriching experience. It was very interesting to come up with ideas and collaborate with students from a different school. It helped us gain several perspectives, Improve our research skills and also our communication skills. At first, I thought it would be a difficult task, but the whole process of making introduction videos and getting to know new people made the process extremely fun as well. I’m glad to have had this opportunity!

I felt genuinely enriched by the experience of the group 4 project. I found that working with another school was a great learning opportunity for numerous reasons. Firstly, we were able to meet new people and engage in more hands-on learning through our interactions. Secondly, we were exposed to different and fresh perspectives within our respective sciences and in the process of teamwork and collaboration. I also believe that the project helped us build our interdisciplinary learning, as we were able to view a certain topic from multiple facets of science. This helped me personally understand the value of being a holistic learner and understand how my course content can complement the work of other students in order to arrive at a better-rounded conclusion. As IB learners, we were critically engaged with world issues. We also all became more capable communicators, team members, and reflective thinkers as a result of this project. Overall, the group 4 project was an excellent and enlightening experience. I’d like to thank both our school and the Doon school for facilitating this and giving us such a unique opportunity.

Collaborating with the Doon School for group 4 was a great decision. Despite the fact that we were in two different cities, it did not stop us from producing some great projects. It in fact showed us how physical presence is not always vital for projects.

I think students from both the schools worked really well together and came up with brilliant ideas on waste management. This project helped us in improving our teamwork and time management skills. Personally, it also helped me improve my researching skills since I visited so many different academic journals, articles, newspapers, and picked out the relevant information. It then helped me think critically about how I could apply this information to my topic in chemistry. I believe that the Group 4 project was a great experience, since it helped me apply the textbook knowledge I have learnt in the sciences to my real life.

I was ambivalent and skeptical initially about collaborating with another school since it would create complications in a project which was already difficult to manage since we couldn’t communicate face to face with our team members. However, after the conclusion of the project I can safely say my viewpoint was not true at all. The extreme effort put in by all the teachers of both the schools ensured that the process was as smooth as it possibly could be. Cooperation levels between group members was remarkable and this resulted in deadlines being met and the end result being a huge success. One truly remarkable thing was the will to complete the project by all members even after it was officially no longer required by IB. On a personal level, the experience of working with unknown people without any physical interaction and finishing the projects in such a small-time span was something truly remarkable. COVID-19 also meant that most people had to work with secondary data, something which was a new area of learning for me which also showed the relevance of secondary data to me. All in all, I feel it was an amazing learning experience arranged under unusual circumstances and I would thank our teachers for this great opportunity.

Group 4 project was more than just a mandatory IB procedure. I saw it as a portal and a tool to give us a gist of what lies ahead of us students. Working with a different school in different subjects, with a completely unknown group of people is a very similar process to working in a firm in the science sector. Structured around teamwork and one's ability to collaborate, the Group 4 project displays how it does not revolve around the outcome and knowledge one has, but rather the process and how he/she shares that knowledge. Personally, it was tiresome at first to organize meetings according to everyone's comfort and convince them to attend but as everyone started to know each other everything started going smoother. The fact that everyone was interdependent also added to the motivation of working hard. The indulgence of another school and different people added various new perspectives to consider, increasing the overall quality of the project along with our ability to look at things from a different point of view. Despite officially getting cancelled, the schools and the students decide to not leave it midway but rather finish the process as we had made good progress and knew that we could only benefit from this. Overall, the activity and the process of making the project gave me an insight of working among a large group of people with interesting new perspectives than I am used to while being interdependent and it also helped me enhance my collaborative skills which will benefit me in the future.

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