IB Internal Assessment (IA) - The positive

“It’s rising!  It’s rising!”  The gleeful shouts come from the chemical room.  Students in my classroom start laughing as they realize that Carl’s experiment is finally working for him.  He’s been trouble shooting this for days.  He’s made catalase beads with cucumber, with the intent of measuring the effect of pH on cucumber catalase activity on hydrogen peroxide.  Gail has set up a unique gas collecting system to measure the effect of salt on CO2 production by yeast.  She also has been struggling for days with her experiment.  Shortly she exclaims with glee, “It’s working!  It’s working!”.  Then, a loud “Oh NO!” followed by a crash and the overflowing of liquid at another lab bench.  Students hustle to help clean up the mess.  Simultaneous to this action, Barb checks on the growth of her wheat, “This is perfect….look at this!” as she reaches for the ruler.  Another student has just put her Daphnia under the microscope to determine how to measure the heartbeat. She summons the other students over and exclamations of “That is SO COOL” echo as each student intently peers through the optical lens on the microscope.  The energy in the classroom is palpable.  Despite darkness pressing against the lab windows, within the classroom there is warmth, comradery, and excitement.  It is a Friday evening but students are finding pleasure in their work.  I, personally, am energized by their enthusiasm and their hope for reasonable results. They are working independently on self-designed experiments.  They all have five values for their independent variables.  They all have unique designs.  The first step is underway.  Let’s hope excellent data collection /processing and thorough conclusions/evaluations follow. This is internal assessment at its best.