It took thousands of scientists and engineers from around the world to spend countless personnel hours and billions of dollars to successfully launch NASA's Perseverance mission to Mars. This audacious project was designed to place a remote-controlled vehicle on the planet's surface to study the rock record to better understand the geologic processes that sculpted the Martian crust. New tools, equipment delivery techniques, and computer systems were developed by teams consisting of members speaking different languages on multiple continents. For this mission to achieve its goals, experts in astronomy, rocket propulsion, electrical engineering, and photography had to share ideas and collaborate. Although WISS won't be launching students into space any time soon, our Diploma Programme (DP) science department will challenge them to emulate NASA's team through their "Surviving on Mars" group 4 project.
In November, thirty-two Grade 12 students will participate in a two-day, hands-on simulation designed to promote a greater appreciation of science and technology's environmental, social, and ethical implications. The IB organizes the "experimental sciences" within group 4 of the Diploma Programme curriculum. The group 4 courses, Biology, Chemistry, Design Technology, and Environmental Science and Society, give students the knowledge and scope to think critically about the world around us.
Like the Perseverance mission, the Survive Mars group 4 project is a collaborative activity where students studying different science subjects work together on a scientific challenge, allowing for concepts and perceptions from across the disciplines to be shared and to develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge. It may also allow them to understand the limitations of scientific study, for example, the shortage of appropriate data and/or the lack of resources. The project is a pass/fail (participated/did not participate). But don't worry. The goal is not for our student-created action plans to meet NASA's stringent feasibility tests. Rather the emphasis is on understanding interdisciplinary cooperation and the processes involved in scientific investigation. Although students may not comprehensively solve all the challenges of sustaining life on Mars, they will be able to reflect meaningfully on the process of working with others, what it means to listen to multiple perspectives actively, and to contribute their expertise towards a common goal bravely.
Like our IB Diploma Programme teachers and students, this group 4 project will be out of this world.
Contributed by: Brandon Risenhoover - IB Diploma Programme Coordinator and Deputy Secondary Principal at Western International School of Shanghai.
中学课程副校长 、 大学预科文凭课程协调员
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