Despite the growing signs of autumn, Hyde Park is still thriving with biological diversity and scientific curiosities. Environmental Systems and Societies IB Diploma students packed an armoury of clipboards, pH meters and much more to find evidence relating to their individual Internal Assessment project questions.
The day started with a short trip to the Hyde Park LookOut Discovery Centre, where Park expert Charlotte provided a helpful range of information and equipment to prepare students for their expeditions. Instead of immediately grabbing a quadrat and running, each spent time carefully drafting tables, spreadsheets and methodologies in order to make their investigations as fruitful as possible.
The students’ projects ranged from establishing the effect of London’s pollution on soil pH to investigating the link between environmental awareness and engagement in more sustainable behaviour. The group engaged in a broad, interdisciplinary blend between the ‘social’ and the ‘scientific’. Developing a holistic perspective of the world on our doorstep is, after all, a large part of Halcyon’s rationale for selecting the IB framework. Beyond that, the design of more interdisciplinary options such as ESS additionally provides a perfect platform for the growth of independent learning. The fact that students unanimously prioritised smoothing out their project planning documents instead of opting to immediately step out into the warm sun certainly indicates their rising mastery of self-driven study.
Some students bravely utilised their time in the Park to conduct surveys with the help of members of the public, while others dedicated themselves to picking a spot to monitor wildlife presence. While ESS teacher, Martyn Steiner, occasionally met up with the groups to ask a few questions about students’ investigative processes, they are free to choose where they go and plan out their allocated time as they see fit. They have complete agency over their own research. As Isabella meticulously measures pH levels in the soil from the area of the park close to Marble Arch all the way to the Silvertine to gauge the effects of man-made pollution, she is taking her learning - not just a meter - into her own hands.