Interesting Investigations at SIS
The 2010-2011 school year has seen some exciting new developments in the high school science program at SIS. Grade 11 and 12 students now have the choice of taking IB Physics, IB Chemistry and/or IB Biology classes. Each of these two-year introductory science courses is designed to prepare students for the study of the natural sciences at the university level. Each course has a core syllabus that contains challenging theoretical content as well as a rigorous practical program.
Laboratory practicals, commonly referred to as “labs”, reflect topics across the curriculum, ensuring students will have an opportunity to actively explore concepts introduced throughout the course. The practical program is designed to reinforce theoretical content, increase student’s appreciation of the hands-on nature of scientific work, and help students develop the manipulative skills required to collect reliable empirical data.
One of the distinguishing features of the IB practical program is the requirement that students design a portion of the laboratory investigations themselves. This feature enables students to move beyond the basic “cookbook” approach to laboratory exercises that are often a part of high school science programs.
In many high school labs, the answer to the question being investigated is known and the data the students generate is merely used to confirm this answer. However when students are asked to design their own labs, they frequently devise novel approaches to the scientific problem. Making sense of the data generated by these approaches requires both a deeper understanding of the scientific concepts involved as well as more complex analysis tools to interpret the results.
Despite the challenging nature of the work, lab days are typically the most anticipated day of the week in class. It is great to see our students fully engaged in scientific discovery!
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