Case Study 1

Group 4 Project 2009

The first time we embarked on planning a Gp4 project after the syllabus change all the science staff met so that we could agree on a common theme for the day. In the end we couldn't agree on a common theme so decided that we would all have our own themes. this made us very happy since none of us had to compromise and we all got to do what we wanted to, maybe not the best start for an exercise in team building but this approach does have some advantages namely that students get to choose their theme so get to do what they are interested in too. We were a little worried about how the groups would work out but went for it anyway. One problem that we anticipated was that the groups might be very uneven, in fact it was possible that one of the groups might have no takers, to take care of that we agreed that if our group didn't get any students we would split the most popular group and take half an indication of our adaptability.

The themes were:

  • Energy content of foods and fuel
  • Survival
  • Temperature maps
  • Paper tower building
  • Could the college become an eco village?

Introductory meeting (evening before)

At this meeting we introduced the idea of the Gp4 project and I gave a presentation about team work, this was based around my experiences of team games at school (football) and the reason why I don't like it. If you have ever been to one of my workshops then you've heard it. The point of this is so that they know why we are doing this project, understand the assessment criteria and know something about how a good team should operate. The connection to my football experiences is that if you are going to assess team skills you must choose an activity that is inclusive (unlike football).

In the second half of the meeting the different themes were described and paper signs for each theme were hung up around the room. Students then went to stand by the theme of their choice and ticked their name off on a list. The students were quite evenly spread. At this stage we did not tell the students which teacher would be leading which group because we did not want that to affect their choice.

During the evening I took a copy of the student timetables and made my self a list of the students plus their science subjects in excel. I added the student group choices to the list then by sorting the group lists by science subject I made the project teams. The size of the teams varied with activity, the survival teams were 4, the paper teams 3 and the eco village 8 and the fuel teams 6. (It is interesting to note that the larger teams did not do so well in the assessment, there could be many reasons for that but it the large group size probably didn't help).

Group Plenary

At 0800 the student groups met with their teacher supervisor who explained some of the things they should consider regarding both the theme and working as a team. The group then split into teams who started the planning the day.

Planning /activity stage

  • Survival group

I was responsible for one of the groups doing survival, the aim was to see if it would be possible to survive on a small island (200m from the classroom) for a week. The students first decided what was essential for survival and after some discussion and a bit of googling decided that they would need water, food, shelter and warmth. The teams decided to focus on different aspects; fire, food shelter water.


Most of the day was spent trying to make fire without matches in a variety of ways. They tried rubbing together different types of wood that they found on the island but it was all wet. On the internet they found that there is a special type of fungus that is easy to ignite which they tried to find. After little success they tried attaching a piece of wood to an electric drill then "drilled" into a second piece of wood with it but not even that worked. The last hour or two was used to make a power point presentation in which they put together pictures of the day along with some facts that they had found out. This was quite a successful team activity since there were many jobs to be done, finding wood, researching methods, rubbing sticks together, taking pictures and putting together the power point.


This group started with a trip to the island (there is a bridge luckily) so that they could collect samples of plants and animals, they found several different types of moss and plants but due to the time of year (spring) there weren't any berries, nuts or mushrooms. They did however find evidence of squirrels and realised that maybe there are fish in the fjord. Coming back to the classroom they analysed their findings and set about working out how they could catch fish. Some made a trap out of twigs and another pair made a hook from a thorn and attached it to thread from their clothing. They didn't catch anything but did try for some time. This may not be very scientific but the students did learn quite a lot about their environment. I was in fact quite surprised how little some of them knew about what type of animal and plant life can be found in Norway. They also made a power point.

  • Paper Group

Although I wasn't invloved with this group I went round to listen to all of the presentations so know a bit about what they got up to. The original idea was that they would have a tower building competition however the students were against the competitive aspect (well we are in Norway) so decided to just build something useful out of 30 sheets of used photocopy paper. There was a lot of discussion about what they did in different countries and some interesting ideas were developed. The best one (not that it was a competition or anything) was a paper umbrella.

  • Eco Village

This started as a large group but then split into smaller groups concentrating on sewage, farming, electricity and housing. The big group was a mix of sciences but the smaller groups were based on interest. There was a lot of collaboration between the small groups though. Most of the morning was spent finding out what an eco village was and what sort of things are possible on the west coast of Norway. The afternoon was spent making a model of the college where each group built a part (wind turbine vegetable gardens etc.)

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.