How to choose the right science IA topic?

How to choose the right science IA topic

What is an Internal Assessment? 

An IA is practically a mini project where a student is required to investigate and research on a topic of interest. It is a 6-12 page document or report that you make to present your investigation. This covers 20% of your final grade for the specific subject. The science IA’s can be challenging since you would need to perform experiments and collect primary data as a result of these experiments.

Having your entire research and conclusion based on the results you obtain, puts a lot of pressure on getting the experiment right the first time. A common problem faced by all the students is formulating a research question. Furthermore, an area of topic to begin with, rather. Once you figure out which subject area interests you and frame a draft research question, the rest of the IA will comparatively be quicker to finish.

Tips to choose the right topic: 

The first and foremost step is to ask yourself questions about things happening around you. This taps into the creative and the curious part of your brain, thus instigating questions you might want answers to. Hopefully, you will be able to research, investigate, and experiment for a solution to your question. Asking questions will help you find your area of interest in deeper thinking. Some science-related questions that may interest you are:

  • Do fruits turn more bitter as they become older?
  • What are the chemical changes that happen to wine when kept in air and how can you preserve it better?
  • Does one part of the stove heat faster than another?
  • Do all sanitizers evaporate at the same rate?

However, if you are not into collecting primary data, which is performing a hands-on experiment, you are also allowed to use softwares to investigate research questions that use secondary data. Possible areas of interest can be astronomy, the speed of sound, etc.

Therefore, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Make sure your IA topic is based on a topic that interests you. You should be able to passionately talk about the science behind your experiment.
    1. While choosing a topic, ask yourself these questions:
      1. Is it engaging enough to make a 12-page document on – this is to keep your readers attention through the document?
      2. Does it sound like you are interested, inquisitive and personally invested in this investigation? 
    2. Usually, the best science IA’s stem from interests and also topics with a good scope for experiments and research. The examiner does not expect you to pick a very complex IA idea. They only expect you to make sure your experiment is valid and that you present it well.
    3. Your area of interest can be similar to that of other students meaning you may experiment in the same science topics. It is nearly impossible to consider and adapt to the ideas of 20,000 other students. You will need to adapt a possibly existing ia and add a personal touch or come up with a creative and unique science IA research question. 
    4. Choosing the right area of interest for your RQ will result in a better evaluation of the personal engagement criteria. The reason and justification behind choosing the topic should be strong. This can be based on a personal experience or an application that just makes you curious.

  1. Choosing the right variables (independent and dependent) for your science research question. They need to be easily changeable variables which you will be controlling in your investigation. 
    1. For instance, if the object you are investigating is a pendulum, your independent variable which you will be varying could be: 
      1. the length of the thread
      2. the mass of the bob
      3. the thickness of the thread
        • It is important to keep in mind that these variables need to be measurable. A common mistake made amongst a lot of the students is that they take different kinds of materials, or a type of fruit. These variables cannot be quantified exactly unless you consider the density of the materials which set them apart.
    2. Choosing the right dependent variables are just as important when it comes to formulating the research question. 
      1. You will need to choose to calculate/ measure viable options such as wavelength of the pendulum and not the internal energy of any gas. Simultaneously, it will also need to give you an outcome that can be analyzed later on to form a relationship between the two variables.
      2. As much as you may think it would need to be complex, the examiners do not look for that. 

Therefore, your final research question will be in the format of:

To what extent will variable x (independent) affect variable y (dependent)?”

Lastly, keeping in mind these tips, you can go ahead to pick your topic! Generally, you will need to keep the body of your IA focused and related to the content. Don’t forget to brag about your personal engagement and how much this IA matters to you!

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