Group Four Project: 13 Effective (and fun) Ideas for IB Sciences

Looking for inspiration for a great group four project idea for IB science? Here’s 13 Effective Group Four Project Ideas for IB Science. They are all enjoyable and promote collaborative group work cross all science disciplines. Thankfully non of these proposals involve Mentos, overly sugared fizzy drinks or even dreaded energy drinks! Click on each link for more information.

  1. Perpetual Motion Machines: Rube Goldberg (US) / Heath Robinson (UK)
  2. Scientific Photography Exhibition for the Group Four Project
  3. What works best as a water filter?
  4. Recycling Materials – Innovative ways of recycling and reusing everyday materials
  5. Reducing our school’s ecological footprint
  6. Mythbusters as a Group Four Project
  7. The Olympics: Describing the physical, chemical and biological aspects of exercise.
  8. The Science of Food and Cooking
  9. Save the Teachers: Surviving on Mars
  10. Is Food Labelling Accurate?
  11. Amusement Park Study  – Including a visit(s) to a local Amusement Park…
  12. An edible world: Make an everyday throwaway object edible
  13. Build a device that accurately measures two minutes of time.


1. Perpetual Motion Machines: Rube Goldberg (US) / Heath Robinson (UK)

Perpetual Motion machines are one of my favorite themes for group IV projects. They keep the students involved and interested for the entire session – sometimes I feel like we could fill several days with this activity. I still get IB students telling me this project was the best day they had (in school) during their IB program…

It often starts with one innocent marble.

The final presentation of the projects is a high point with groups on tenterhooks to see if all their physical, biological, chemical and computing events will actually work.  We even have other grade groups come in to watch.  Just make sure you (and your department) are ready for the mess, the semi organised chaos. Get a good sleep the night before.



2. Scientific Photography Exhibition For the Group Four Project


rain and rainbow
The science of beautiful images can capture student’s imaginations during the group four project.



Scientific photography exhibition is a great way to combine art with science. This goes down very well with the more creative students.



  3. What works best as a water filter?

Get the students to research and design a water filter, preferably from recycled materials. Great fun to test in the lab too – I just wouldn’t recommend drinking the results…


4. Recycling Materials – Innovative ways of recycling and reusing everyday materials

Recycling is such a huge part of your lives these days. Many students are passionate about improving their ecological footprint, this project is a great one for cultivating their green credentials.

plastic waste
Reducing plastic waste is a popular topic.



5. Reducing our school’s ecological footprint

Schools can be very wasteful, especially with photocopying and throwing away food. This project can cause meaningful change throughout the school and inspire students to think a bit more about their surroundings.


6. Mythbusters as a Group Four Project

Everyone has a favorite ‘urban myth’ that they love to tell people about. It’s also easy to research new ones on the internet in safe (ish) areas such as reddit and facebook. Students are often really keen to apply their scientific reasoning to test these urban myths and the results can be equally interesting to their peers.



7. The Olympics: Describing the physical, chemical and biological aspects of exercise.

The vast array of activities and sports in an average olympic games is enormous and have huge potential for scientific study. Obviously biology/physiology plays a big role here but it doesn’t take too much imagination to come up with a (bio) chemistry physics theme that really captures the students’ imagination.

All manner of science topics to get stuck into here…




8. The Science of Food and Cooking

Cooking and food are central to all of us. I have seen some great projects in these ares – from baking to solar oven, the biochemistry of chilli peppers to the physics of microwaves. The choice is endless.

Microwaves – so satisfying to investigate. ‘For our group four project we’ll need 500 bags of popcorn minimum, sir’.



9. Save the teachers: Surviving on Mars

You can introduce this with a fun video of the science teachers badly acting out a desperate call for help from Mars. The students will snigger and some might even look up from their phones.  But will they really want to save you all? Lets be honest this is unlikely, but at least they’ll enjoy coming up with some eccentric solutions to human adaptations in a martian landscape.

Here’s a teacher stuck on Mars, probably.



10. Is Food Labelling Accurate?

Students seem to be very interested in this. Analysing food labels has become the norm in recent years. But how accurate are those ingredient claims? Are the food companies trying to pull a fast one?  – Probably and its up to the class of 2020 to unearth all their little lies, deceitful untruths and disingenuous claims.




11. Amusement Park Study  – Including a visit (s) to a Local Amusement Park…

Yes  – you will go to the amusement park and ride the corkscrew five times with the lab tech while wearing a heart rate monitor. Students will be sent back to improve their patchy data. All this while consuming obscene amounts of sugary drink and chips. The music will be terrible.  It’s student heaven. But they will love you for this project, absolutely love you. Especially if you do a planning visit and data collection visit, you’ll be a legend. A legend carrying too many boxes of data collection probes and stopwatches.

Please keep the probe in an upright position Mr Brown! The group four project at its best.



12. An Edible World: Make an everyday throwaway object edible

This wacky idea can be fantastic for able students who enjoy creating and innovating. Most ideas revolve around starches so it’s great revision for (bio) chemistry and molecular biology. The objects students come up with can be memorable: edible bottle openers, edible shoe horns (?) and taco holders are few examples I have seen.




13. Build a device that accurately measures two minutes of time

This is fun, deceptively difficult task. Getting a reaction that measures time is not too difficult. But can you get it to measure exactly two minutes and beat the other group to claim the Tolberone prizes? Groups can get really competitive and work on this project right up to the wire.  Everybody learns something and team work is evident throughout.


A clock is harder than it looks to emulate for you group four project. (Important: no using a clock)






So there you have it: 13 Group Four Project Ideas

– some great ideas for you and your science department to work on for the IB group four project.  The group four project shouldn’t be boring or dull – it’s the one time when students have freedom to study a topic they find interesting. Let them enjoy working in collaborative teams, just like real scientists do.  The atmosphere can be more relaxed than normal, so make sure you plan a project that interests them.

Make the Group Four Project Memorable

A well thought out project promotes effortless and collaborative team work, keeps them occupied for the entire time and provides them with fond memories of their IB experience. Students will have no problem writing a great reflection afterwards and might even thank you for the experience. All of ideas listed here have the potential to deliver that.

Did you try one of these ideas? Let me know at Thanks HolaTutorTom.

Are you an IB teacher or IB science student? Check out my carefully written Guide to the Sciences IA (Coursework). It’s a detailed guide on how to plan a great project and get top marks. Maybe you’re a teacher interested in the IB and international work? Check out my guide  on Getting a Job in an International School and what it’s like to work in one. Any questions – Feel free to send me an email

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