Academic EE

How to Choose an EE Topic (Biology)

When life gives you cabbage, make kimchi! The Biology EE may not be the easiest essay you will write, and it may be the hardest you ever will. But with proper planning, good communication with your supervisor, and a clear motivation, it will definitely become a memorable experience in your IB journey. 

Choosing a subject

Back when I was a DP1 student, I thought I was ready for the EE. I did everything in my power to prepare for it: talking to my favorite subject teachers and potential mentors, talking to upperclassmen about their EEs, and looking online for past experiences and suggestions, much like you are right now. I narrowed down my choices to 2 subjects: English A and Biology. 

Two factors went into my decision for choosing Biology: my interest in the subject, and the mentor availability. In my cohort, there was only one available mentor for both English A and Biology who I knew could help me achieve my best. The problem was that 10 other students had the English A mentor already, whereas only 4 had the Biology mentor. I was also more passionate about writing a paper on Biology, because I felt it was unique and not many students usually do a science EE. So, I went for it. 

Choosing a topic

I decided to base my paper on kimchi. I love eating (and making) kimchi at home, so as far as interests go, I was committed. For six straight months, I made homemade kimchi in an environment I tried extremely hard to control, repeatedly tested the pH of kimchi liquid, and shared kilograms worth of kimchi with my family and friends. I also went on multiple science journals to learn how changing the length of fermentation could affect the pH of kimchi. After all of the research, I spent nearly two weeks writing out my lengthy analysis and interpretation. 

What I learned from my Biology EE

In the end, my EE ended up getting a pretty bad mark. Both my supervisor and I were surprised, because I followed the criteria exactly. But, with all externally marked assignments, the examiner has the last say in the grade. But IiIf there’s one thing noteworthy about IB students, is that we always manage to pull through and see the good in all things. Even if I didn’t immediately realize it, the EE journey is more than completing that 4000-word essay. I fostered good relationships with the lab assistants, taught myself how to read and analyze online science journals, and can now make some really, really good kimchi. If you remember to trust your gut, trust your mentor, and remain committed throughout, I’m confident that you can blaze through the EE as well.

Good luck!


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