How much guidance?

It has been a busy couple weeks, with projects on top of projects keeping my students busy. They are building things for the Google Global Science Fair, conducting experiments for class and — most of all — working on the Group 4 Project [G4P]. The G4P is signature IB : interdisciplinary, international, and student-driven. We have groups of three designing and carrying out labs related to the theme of Energy. That means photosynthesis, yeast metabolism, calorimetry, and more.

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My Bio/Chem colleague and I have been discussing lately the complex balance required to (a) set up students with good investigations that will feasibly work, while also (b) allowing them the freedom to design and make their own decisions. For the science fair, the balance is heavily toward (b), but for the G4P, we tend to include some (a). In two cases we provided the skeleton of a lab to groups after their own attempt fell flat.

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Which brings me to birch trees. It is berzu sula time here in Latvia, and so we came up with an experiment involving birch trees and negative pressures. I can’t wait to see what the students come up with.

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