To Mars and beyond
One of the distinctive features of the IB program is the requirement for students to look beyond the immediate and specific needs of each of their academic courses. In this spirit then, each cohort of IB students undertake a cross-disciplinary project known as the ‘Group 4 Project’. Over two full days regular lessons are put to one side, and instead, students work in small teams of their peers from different disciplines to solve a common problem. In this way, they gain an appreciation of how problems are solved in the real world, where it is not usually the case that scientists operate in isolated silos.
This year’s theme was To Mars and Beyond. Newington students were asked to analyse particular issues with setting up a human colony on planet Mars and to offer some possible solutions. This is, of course, a huge topic area and over two days we can only scratch the surface of the underlying issues. Nevertheless, the ideas quickly flowed and some wonderfully creative and sometimes quirky topics were pursued. At the end of the two days, the boys showcased their findings, which included prototype gyms for maintaining optimum levels of health and fitness on the low gravity, weak atmosphere and freezing conditions on Mars. We also had models built of transportation options, housing choices and supplying food for the new citizens of Mars. The boys accessed a wide range of technologies including the use of 3D printing to quickly build and test prototypes.
Sadly, the project was over all too soon, but the seeds of some powerful ideas were planted among the boys. Hopefully, one day they will have another chance to consider the possibilities of living on Mars. In the short term though, some of the concepts they worked on may fact form the basis for the boys’ Internal Investigations next year (which is a mandatory component of the assessment program for each Group 4 subject).