Stand back, we’re doing science

A few weeks ago, while half the high school was away for Weeks Without Walls, our administration decided to do something special with the two grade levels left behind. Inspired by the revolution in Syria, Grade 9 completed a project-based learning activity in which they tried to answer the question “what’s worth fighting for?”

Grade 11, Alekka’s class, did something called the Group IV project. Group IV is the International Baccalaureate program’s term for the sciences. In the Group IV project, students from the different science disciplines – at our school, that’s chemistry, physics, and biology – work collaboratively to research and present on a topic.

Each small group, comprised of one student from each of the three disciplines, addresses a broad theme in whatever way they choose. This year the theme was “Ethiopia”.  One group asked the question “Why are Ethiopian runners so fast?” Another group investigated the efficiency of traditional Ethiopian biofuels (translation: cow dung). Another looked at various aspects of the leather industry. And another explored the effects of the Renaissance Dam project on the Nile.

Alekka’s group came up with the question “What are the special qualities of injera?” – injera being the staple food of our region. Over the course of the week, the chemistry student researched fermentation and yeast action; the biology student looked at the nutritional makeup of teff grain and the finished bread; Alekka as the physics student looked at the structure of injera as it cooks in terms of surface tension and so on.

The students made an appointment at the staff canteen to learn about how injera is made. I think the cook there got a good laugh out of their attempts.

How injera is supposed to turn out:

The Group IV student version:


About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Bangkok, Thailand.
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