Academic EE

How to Get an A on a Physics EE

To help get you started with your Physics EE, here are tips on how I structured mine. Psst..this is quite a long post so bear with me 🙂

While some would advise staying away from science subjects for your Extended Essay (EE), I feel that if you are interested in pursuing science-related majors in university, it is a rewarding experience. As long as you have a solid plan of what you are going to do and coherently analyze your results, it is definitely NOT impossible to get an A. In fact, to make it seem less daunting, just think of it as an extended IA!

Introduction: Set-Up and Background Information

-Background Information on Problem: 
Start with a concise explanation of what inspired you to do this Physics EE. My tip is to relate your experiment to existing problems in your home country. For instance, my EE had the research question “How does the turbine radius affect the efficiency of a horizontal axis wind turbine?” and I linked it to Indonesia’s newly inaugurated wind farm, which at the moment, has limited efficiency. My EE could, in theory, be a stepping stone in helping Indonesia have increased turbine efficiency and spend less money on blade material.

I would also recommend writing about your problem’s financial or social factors to show more depth behind your “personal motivation”. Afterwards, slowly build up to your research question. This should take up from ½ to 1 page.

-Background information on Idea: 
Write about the background information you have found regarding your topic and experiment, including its advantages and drawbacks. Add pictures, if possible, to give examiners a better understanding of what you are doing. Then, relate to how your research can add to the current knowledge of the topic.

-Define and clarify the terms and formulas you are using throughout your EE:
Specify what each symbol in the formula means and have their units written.

-Hypothesis:
Add necessary scientific information to back up your claims, and don’t forget to cite your sources!

-Set-Up:
The set-up can be divided into two sections: Construction & Operation. The “Construction” section is about how you will create your set-up for the experiment, whereas the “Operation” section should be about how you will collect your data. Make sure to be specific and add diagram/ reference photos for more clarity. 

The Experiment

-Technical Data: 
Write down all the lengths and measurements of the setup and any other additional information that you think is essential for your report. 

-Experiment Variables: 
• Independent Variable (IV): You would typically have more IV increments than in your average IA. I had a total of 9 increments. However, you can have more or fewer increments, depending on your experiment’s difficulty and the aim of your analysis. 
*Tip: Explain why you chose the specific interval between your increments for more in-depth analysis
• Dependent Variable (DV): Write what your DV is and how you would measure them
• Controlled Variables (CV): Write your controlled variables, possible impact on results if not controlled, and plan to control them. Four variables would generally be appropriate since they will be complete enough but not waste too many words.

-Data Collection:
Talk about the specifications and details of how you collected data. This is when you will be doing the actual experiment for your EE. Make sure to compile your results into your raw and processed data table (Add sample calculation to your appendix so you won’t waste words). 

Analysing the Data

-Graphs: 
I highly recommend more than one graph. However, try not to exceed four graphs to make sure that you have enough words to explain each graph in detail.

– Analysis:
While the analysis portion would differ from person to person, some ideas on how to analyze would be to write about:

– What is the general trend + Possible explanation (Scientific reason)

– Outliers + Error bars + Possible factors that contributed to outlier/ error 

– R2 value 

– Agree/ Disagree with the hypothesis (To what extent)

Conclusion

To wrap up your Physics EE, summarise your findings: trends, possible reasons for the trend and deviations from the trend. Relate it back to the problem you mentioned in the background information section and what suggestions you have for that problem based on your results.

Evaluation

Have at least five systematic and random errors (combined). Write about what the error was, how it affected your data and suggestions to improve.

Extension

Lastly, what experiments can be done to further support or test your data results in the future?

Whew… That was quite a lot of information to take in. Have fun with your extended essay, and though it takes up a lot of your time, you will undoubtedly learn new things from it. Good luck!!


You might also like…

  • More IBlieve insights into the EE are available here
  • Read Nikki’s overview of Physics HL here.
  • Find samples of Physics EEs with scores & annotations here.

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