Why I love IB physics

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I started teaching IB physics in 2013, and I instantly fell in love with the curriculum.

The content of the IB physics curriculum is very broad in scope, and checks only the student’s grasp and application of the physics concepts. There is no pressure to remember any formulae, since a detailed data booklet containing the list of useful formulae from each topic is always available to the student even during the exams!

What I love most about the IB physics curriculum is the IAs (Internal Assessments) and EEs (Extended Essays). The IAs and EEs train the student to practice and develop all the skills necessary to do proper research work. The grading system is such that every student has the chance to get a perfect score in the IAs by improving till he/she meets all the requirements of the evaluation criteria.

In Design (D), students have to come up with a proper research question after observing some phenomena around them, and design an experiment to find the answer to the research question. In Data Collection and Processing (DCP) and Conclusion and Evaluation (CE), they practice the remaining steps of the scientific method, i.e making observations, recording them and evaluating them and presenting them to finally form a meaningful conclusion.

This year our IB students investigated some fascinating phenomena like the bending of spaghetti (noodles), rubber band powered boats, water rockets, parachutes, and pulley systems, to name a few.
Murali of 12 DP worked very hard on his extended essay in which he has investigated how the efficiency of First Order Pulley Systems varies with increasing number of pulleys. He discovered that the efficiency increases with increasing effort and decreases with increasing number of pulleys. His findings are now being used by the next batch of IBDP students for their research questions, where they are exploring how First Order Pulley Systems can be used for generating electricity and for transporting objects using gravitational potential energy.

For the next year, already many interesting research questions are being investigated by our current 12IBDP students, like ‘how to calibrate a gun to shoot a target accurately?’, ‘how to generate electricity by exercising?’, ‘how to utilise gravitational potential energy to transport objects using First Order Pulley Systems?’, ‘how to increase the range and payload of water rockets?’, ‘how to deploy parachutes most efficiently?’, ‘along which axis, the egg is strongest?’, etc.

Here are some pictures of our students in action, engaged with their research work:

Figure 1 Murali setting up the First Order Pulley System with 5 pulleys from the terrace of 5 storey building

Figure 1 Murali setting up the First Order Pulley System with 5 pulleys from the terrace of 5 storey building

Figure 2 Water rocket just after taking off. Observe the shape of the water jet!

Figure 2 Water rocket just after taking off. Observe the shape of the water jet!

Figure 3 Parachute deployed successfully for the first time

Figure 3 Parachute deployed successfully for the first time

Figure 4 Teja Sai and Ravendra testing the prototype of the Gravity Car which will be powered by pulley systems

Figure 4 Teja Sai and Ravendra testing the prototype of the Gravity Car which will be powered by pulley systems

Thus, guiding students with their exploration of such fascinating questions is exhilarating and you’ll understand what I mean only when you witness the first scream of “YES!!!” when a student finally succeeds in making his idea work. I still remember how Teja and Ravendra screamed with delight when the ‘gravity car’ finally moved, after many failed attempts. They learned a lot of physics from each failed attempt and that’s how IB physics curriculum teaches the subject to the students – by making them experiment, make mistakes and reflect and learn from the mistakes and make improvements till they succeed.
To sum it up, IB curriculum gives an opportunity to the students to practice the cycle of observing, questioning, planning, solving and improvising.
This is why I love IB physics so much!

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