Grade 11 Investigates Some Seriously Chocolatey Science

by Jeong Bin Lee

On Tuesday, March 21, the 11th grade complete their group IV science project; this year’s students solemnly investigated the various physical, chemical, and rheological properties of chocolate.

There were numerous groups, each holding a distinct goal and a thesis. Amy Oh’s group determined to look at how cocoa affects heart rate and blood pressure. “To do this we had 3 participants consume certain amounts of 85% dark chocolate and then measured their heart rate and blood pressure,” said Oh.

Sneha Ramshanker’s group investigated how liquid nitrogen affected the properties of chocolate. “It was a really fun experience and our group worked really well together. I personally spent the day making the liquid nitrogen chocolate and testing its brittleness,” said Ramshanker. “I think the best part of the experiment was obviously playing with liquid nitrogen. We probably conducted 15 trials but each one was equally exciting.”

Although Ramshanker’s group faced some issues in the beginning, they managed to “bounce back well” and achieve satisfactory outcome which she sees as a step closer to passing the IB.

Diana Stoyanova’s group tried to make chocolate float on water by decreasing the density and she helped out with testing the different ways of accomplishing that task. “The best part of the experiment was just getting to spend the entire day playing around with chocolate. For example, we got to coat balloons in chocolate and see if they floated and overall it was a very relaxing but fun day,” said Stoyanova. Diana’s team considers their experiments successful as they managed not to drown all the chocolate and make some float.

Stoyanova felt satisfied and a special type of relief from “completing something from the IB checklist”.

Jeong Whan Lee’s group determined to test how much heat can be transferred to chocolate using water as the convection. Lee said that “the best part of the experiment was at the end when we got to feast on the chocolate until we were sick of it.”

For this Internal Assessment, “students are assessed on the completion of the project as well as a reflective statement sent to the IBO,” said Mr. Beach, ASW’s IBDP Coordinator. “Although no “grade” is given, completion and reflection are mandatory”.

Mr. Beach described this process metaphorically as “like a good story, this project is about the journey and how it helps you to see connections between the disciplines; how all sciences as an academic study share similar approaches; and how our knowledge and skills transfer.”

According to Oh, “the best part of the whole Group 4 project was that we really got to investigate what we were curious about. I really liked that we had no pressure of grades or anything, so many groups could explore the most random ideas and focus on enjoying the process itself rather than trying to get a good end result”.  
According to Mr. Beach, the Group 4 experiments will remain as long as it is a requirement of the DP. “Regardless, this sort of interdisciplinary approach to studies is becoming more and more necessary as we enter a future where the past lines of science, technology, and other disciplines begin to blur. So, we will always continue to develop units that take into account other subjects and disciplines.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Toby Brunt

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