Carrying out a good IA project

Have you stated your Internal Assessment(IA) yet? If you are a ‘May session’ school, this anytime from May of IB1 until December of IB2 seems a likely time that your school will carry this out with you and ask you to write it up.

Which means that you need to get some ideas on what types of things you can investigate. However, the aim of this blog post is to give you some ideas for writing and carrying out a good project …… not to tell you what to investigate. I am afraid that you will need to come up with this idea yourself.

A good IA will have a good research question and the research question is the key to getting a good IA mark as 75% of the allocated marks all relate to the research question.

So it is around this time that you need to start getting some ideas down on paper. A good IA project will be a simple one that has added a novel or different twist to an already well established investigation. This crucial as you want an IA that will generate a good amount of results and data but you can’t just copy an existing lab, you need to adapt it, change it and personalize it. This will help with the Personal Engagement marks but will also help you to focus a research question.

A good research question will contain the independent variable (the variable that you have decided to investigate) and the dependent variable (the variable that you measure or record).  In simple terms (ie, not up to IB standard) if you thought that changing the surface area of calcium carbonate would change the time it took to produce 100cm3 of CO2, your independent variable would be the surface area and the dependent variable to volume of CO2.

The research question also need to be focused. In reality, this means that somebody reading your research question almost instantly have an idea of what you were trying to find out about in your IA. Think of it as being like a mini abstract.

These are just some ideas to get you going – obviously, your teacher will have a big input on what you do. You may wish to do something but the school does not have the specialist equipment to do this, or cannot afford expensive chemicals – so be prepared to be flexible and try not to get too bogged down by one idea – be flexible.

Don’t be surprised if your school tells you that you are unable to the sort of equipment shown above.

Good luck with your projects. The IA can be a really rewarding experience ….. good luck!

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