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Fieldwork Takes IB Students into the Heart of Ho Chi Minh City 

George Marshall

It’s early morning and three vans of SSIS high schoolers pull up to Ben Thanh market in District 1. As part of their IB Geography Internal Assessment project, they will spend the day collecting data and making observations across Ho Chi Minh City.

“How does urban stress change in relation to distance from the city center?” is the question students in David Tan’s IB Geography class will explore during the fieldwork they will conduct for their internal assessment.

Gathering outside of Ben Thanh market, students are briefed by their teacher Mr. Tan.

Split into groups for the task at hand, students gather outside of the city’s most famous market, one exclaiming “I haven’t been here in years!” Not surprising as Ben Thanh market has yet to fully reopen since COVID. 

Students get ready for a day of collecting data.

After the groups are briefed by Mr. Tan, they prepare to head out in different directions working their way out from the city center and stopping in one-kilometer increments. 

The internal assessment requires students to collect and present primary data, and interpret it through meaningful analysis. If it sounds like a big project, it is! It actually makes up a quarter of their final IB score.

Students get first-hand experience using professional tools for collecting data, like AQI (air quality) readers and decibel meters.​​​​

At each stop along the way, students record several metrics, from the air quality and noise level to the number of pedestrians and vehicles passing by. They also take note of the building and environmental quality, such as graffiti, litter, and sidewalks.

Using statistical significance tests like chi-squared and spearman’s rank to assist in their analysis, students gain experience in the growing field of data science. Their collective data will determine whether or not there are trends and outliers and if their observations matched their predictions.

Collecting and gathering data allows the students to see their city in a new light. ​​​​​​

Ultimately, the fieldwork the students have done for their IB Geology class has not only taken them to the bustling heart of Ho Chi Minh City but also offered them the opportunity to explore their own assumptions about the neighborhoods and trends of this dynamic and rapidly expanding Southeast Asian city.

Thank you to teacher David Tan who contributed to this story!

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