How to use ChatGPT effectively in IB Physics

ib physics
How to use chatGPT effectively in IB Physics

IB Physics Made Easier with ChatGPT


The International Baccalaureate (IB) recently gave their seal of approval for students to use ChatGPT when writing their Internal Assessments for IB Physics. As an IB Physics teacher, I couldn't be more thrilled to see this endorsement!


ChatGPT is a powerful AI-based tool that can generate content based on a set of keywords or phrases. It can help students produce high-quality material quickly, allowing them to dedicate more of their time to understanding and analysing the physics concepts they need to know.


Use Case Example for ChatGPT and IB Physics Students: Simplifying Concepts



You can ask ChatGPT to simplify a paragraph of text, as though they were explaining it to 10 year old. This means that it should be easier for you to understand the trickier concepts in the IB Physics specification.



ChatGPT Prompt: Explain the photoelectric effect to a 10 year old. Only include facts known to be true. Be clear, simple and concise.

ChatGPT response: The photoelectric effect is a phenomenon where light (usually from the sun or a lamp) can cause electrons (tiny particles that make up atoms) to be emitted from a material. This can happen because light is made up of tiny particles called photons, and when a photon hits an electron, it can give the electron enough energy to break free from the material it's attached to.

This effect is important because it helps us understand how solar panels work. Solar panels are made up of materials that allow electrons to be easily released when they are hit by sunlight. The free electrons can then be collected and used to create electricity. The photoelectric effect also helped scientists develop a better understanding of the nature of light and how it interacts with matter.


Understand the Power and Limitations of AI, with respect to IB Physics


While ChatGPT can be a useful tool for IB physics students, it is important to understand the power and limitations of AI.


How AI can be very powerful for IB Physics students


ChatGPT and AI are only powerful if you know how to ‘talk’ to it. This is known a ‘prompt engineering’. 

I’ve fine-tuned the openAI API to write some very high-quality sections of physics, biology and chemistry internal assessments ( I was able to do that because I have become pretty skilled at prompt engineering.


After fine-tuning my prompts I’ve been super impressed with the outputs. 


You should check out the tool I made: 


How AI can be a disaster to IB Physics students


Vague Outputs

If you just type into a new chat “write me a coursework about waves” the input is vague and the output will be too. The coursework produced will be much lower quality than you can produce yourself. This is because ChatGPT is not actually THAT CLEVER. It works by predicting what the next word will be depending on what instructions is was given. If you give a vague instruction, the prediction of the next word could be ANYTHING!


However, if you give specific instructions on how to act, what questions to answer and give it examples (e.g. “think like a physics teacher”, “write a method for….”, “here is an example…”) then the prediction of the next word will be much better.


ChatGPT ain’t a physicist or mathematician…


ChatGPT is a language trained AI tool. That means it’s been trained in language - not maths or physics. The outputs for physics-specific and maths-specific prompts tend to be terrible.


I’ve played with asking ChatGPT to solve physics problems and explain physics concepts - it’s generally wrong! So be super careful with the outputs.


That’s why it’s important to evaluate the quality and relevance of ChatGPT's outputs when you’re doing coursework. You need to cite sources and avoid plagiarism but you also need to be aware of the accuracy of the outputs and detect any bias.


These skills are critical for your future success, so take advantage of this opportunity to develop them


The Official Word from the International Baccalaureate


The International Baccalaureate (IB) is embracing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its assessments and students will now be able to quote from work generated by ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, in their essays without penalty.


Let me clarify that the IB is not encouraging you to plagiarize. They simply want to help you develop the skills you'll need in a world where AI is becoming more prevalent. In fact, Matt Glanville, the head of assessment principles and practice at the IB, said that students can use work generated by ChatGPT as long as they don't pass it off as their own.


In the long run, the IB plans to reduce its reliance on essays and focus more on other skills that are now considered more important than essay writing. Glanville believes that when AI can essentially write an essay at the touch of a button, you’ lol need to master different skills, such as understanding if the essay is any good or if it has missed context, has used biased data or if it is lacking in creativity. These will be far more important skills than writing an essay, so the assessment tasks the IB sets will need to reflect this.


I strongly believe that we should prepare for the future of integrating AI into our every day workflows and this is just the start of that process. We can’t fear or prevent the use of AI, we need to embrace it and encourage effective, ethical use.

But don't worry, the IB isn't leaving students to figure this out on your own. They plan to work with schools to help students use AI ethically. And they want to tap into the educational opportunities offered by ChatGPT, including teaching teenagers how to evaluate AI; how to ask it the right questions to get a good response; how to approach a problem creatively rather than seeking simple answers an AI tool can generate; and how to identify and address bias in the work it produces.


I know some people might worry about AI taking over and replacing human creativity, but Glanville believes that AI can actually help you develop your creativity. By spending less time teaching the mechanics of essay-writing or communication, and more on understanding, describing and analyzing problems, you can focus on developing your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Should we be happy about AI in the IB?


Overall, the IB's embrace of AI is exciting news, and I think we should all be open to this new technology. Like spellcheckers, translation software, and calculators, AI is becoming part of our everyday lives, and we should embrace it rather than fear it.

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