Experiential learning is a core component of the LAS curriculum, as we believe in the importance of allowing students to apply their studies to the world around them and gain hands-on experience in real-life settings. Through the IB Diploma Programme, students develop into inquiring young people with a curiosity for knowledge and a big part of that is their Internal Assessments (IA) for each subject. Recently, our 11th grade IB Geography students set out on a field trip to collect data for their studies and learn more about the real-life applications of what they have been learning this year to apply to their IAs.
A group of seven students participated in this trip, traveling to the Grande-Eau River which flows through nearby Les Diablerets. In class, students have been studying the Freshwater Module and within that, the Bradshaw Model, a geographical model that suggests how a river’s characteristics can vary between its upper and lower course (e.g. a river’s velocity will increase as it flows from its source to its mouth). For this field trip, students were required to choose three variables to study and measure to see whether the Grande-Eau matches the Bradshaw Model.
The students collected data on velocity, width, depth, discharge (how much water flows in the river), sediment size, roughness, and gradient. The group measured these variables at ten sites along the river, spaced out over a kilometer. To measure the data, students used a web-based app and Geographic Information System (GIS) software, which made collecting the data simple, allowing them to compare variables and, drawing from their classroom knowledge, use them to assess their hypotheses and create conclusions. Following this field trip, students will write their final 2500-word IA report over the summer break and receive feedback in the next academic year.
This field trip gave students the opportunity to bridge the gap between the knowledge they learn in class and the real-life applications of these skills. Applying this knowledge to real-life situations gives students confidence in the syllabus and reinforces their studies in a way that will prepare them not only for exams but also for effective geographical research in the future. And aside from the academic side of this field trip, it was such a treat for students to be out in nature and experience all that the Swiss Alpine countryside has to offer!