Choosing an at-home IA topic

Choosing an internal assessment (IA) topic will be harder for the student as the teacher is not there to guide their thinking.

Here are a few suggestions that may help:

Start with a problem

Students can look around their house for problems. For example:

  • Does one part of the stove heat up faster than the other?

  • Do different parts of your garden grow at different speeds?

  • Do you hear birds chirping at different times of the day?

  • Do you find cooking food different ways have different effects on that food?

  • Does limescale form on pipes, taps, showers, etc?

  • Does fruit taste more bitter as it gets older?

  • Does wine taste worse as it is left exposed to the air?

  • Do hand sanitizers evaporate at the same rate?

  • Does one shower have a stronger pressure than another?

Students could post these questions and their thinking on Flipgrid (or a similar program) for you to respond to or for other class members to respond to.

50 questions

Have students look at, or think about, something they are interested in doing an IA on and have the student write 50 questions about that topic. Insist on the 50 questions as that can encourage deeper thinking and better questioning. If you used a program like Padlet, then other students and teachers could also comment on their work.

Articles and interesting ideas

Having a collection of articles, websites and YouTube videos are also good ways to generate ideas. It is important to note that students should not be copying an experiment, but rather using the ideas or protocols in the experiment to develop their own ideas. Programs like Pocket or NoodleTools are also excellent ways to keep track of research.

Here is an example of using a YouTube video to start an investigation. Instead of searching for ‘physics lab ideas’, have students search for ‘cool physics videos’ and think how the effect in the video can be turned into an investigation by listing a possible range of independent and dependent variables.

For example, the three-minute video ‘7 Science Tricks with Surface Tension’ yielded the following possibilities where a paper boat is propelled forward by soap on a cotton swab breaking the surface tension.

Independent variables

Dependent variables

Distance between earbud and paper boat

Total distance boat travels

Length of boat

Distance boat travels in 2 seconds

Width of boat

Time to travel a certain distance

Mass of boat

Initial velocity of boat

Height of front folds, linking with air resistance

Acceleration of boat

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