Aims

  • Provide opportunities for scientific study and creativity within a global context that will stimulate and challenge students.
  • Provide a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterise science and technology.
  • Enable students to apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterise science and technology.
  • Develop an ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise scientific information.
  • Engender an awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities.
  • Develop experimental and investigative scientific skills.
  • develop and apply the students’ information and communication technology skills in the study of science.
  • Raise awareness of the moral, ethical, social, economic and environmental implications of using science and technology.
  • Develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations associated with science and scientists.
  • Encourage an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and the overarching nature of the scientific method.

Objectives

The objectives for Experimental Sciences reflect those parts of the aims that will be assessed. Wherever appropriate, the assessment will draw upon environmental and technological contexts and identify the social, moral and economic effects of science.

It is the intention of all the Diploma Programme Experimental Science courses that students achieve the following objectives.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of:
    • scientific facts and concepts
    • scientific methods and techniques
    • scientific terminology
    • methods of presenting scientific information.
  • Apply and use:
    • scientific facts and concepts
    • scientific methods and techniques
    • scientific terminology to communicate effectively
    • appropriate methods to present scientific information.
  • Construct, analyse and evaluate:
    • hypotheses, research questions and predictions
    • scientific methods and techniques
    • scientific explanations.
  • Demonstrate the personal skills of cooperation, perseverance and responsibility appropriate for effective scientific investigation and problem solving.

Internationalism

Science itself is an international endeavour—the exchange of information and ideas across national boundaries has been essential to the progress of science. This exchange is not a new phenomenon but it has accelerated in recent times with the development of information and communication technologies. Indeed, the idea that science is a Western invention is a myth—many of the foundations of modern-day science were laid many centuries before by Arabic, Indian and Chinese civilizations, among others. Teachers will emphasise this contribution in their teaching of various topics, perhaps through the use of time-line web sites and taking a historical perspective in the introduction of new topics.

The scientific method in its widest sense, with its emphasis on peer review, open-mindedness and freedom of thought, transcends politics, religion and nationality. The syllabus details contain assessment statements and teacher’s notes illustrating the international aspects of science and these will be used as a basis for the incorporation of the international dimension.

On an organisational level, many international bodies now exist to promote science. United Nations bodies such as UNESCO, UNEP and WMO, where science plays a prominent part, are well known, but in addition there are hundreds of international bodies representing every branch of science. The facilities for large-scale experimental science in, for example, particle physics and the Human Genome Project, are expensive and only joint ventures involving funding from many countries allow this to take place. The data from such research is shared by scientists worldwide and students will be encouraged to access the extensive web sites of these international scientific organisations to enhance their appreciation of the international dimension.

Increasingly, however, there is a recognition that many scientific problems, from climate change to AIDS, are international in nature and this has led to a global approach to research in many areas. The reports of the intergovernmental panel on climate change are a prime example of this. Some topics in the Chemistry and Physics courses are specifically written to bring out this global research.

On a practical level, the Group 4 project (which all science students must undertake) mirrors the work of real scientists by encouraging collaboration between schools across the regions.

The power of scientific knowledge to transform societies is unparalleled. It has the potential to produce great universal benefits or to reinforce inequalities and cause harm to people and the environment. In line with the IB mission statement, Group 4 students need to be aware of the moral responsibility of scientists to ensure that scientific knowledge and data are available to all countries on an equitable basis and that they have the scientific capacity to use this for developing sustainable societies.