START BRAINSTORMING EARLY!

The earlier you have your idea the earlier you can check it with your supervisor/teacher and start doing preliminary trials. The process of thinking of ideas is not easy so don’t rush it.

WHERE TO LOOK FOR IDEAS

IB OPTION TOPICS

It’s a good idea to start by looking at the option topics. Your experiment needs to be something that doesn’t stem directly from the IB syllabus that could be used for an IA.
Chemistry option topics:
 – Materials
 – Biochemistry
 – Energy
 – Medicinal chemistry

GOOD IB TOPICS TO LOOK INTO FOR EE IDEAS

Organic Chemistry:
There are quite a few organic functional groups and reactions that are not covered in the IB syllabus that can potentially be looked into as an EE topic. A couple of examples of these are acid anhydrides, acyl chlorides and epoxides. These classes of molecules are commonly used in synthesis of other molecules, and mostly fit the 3 criteria below for a good EE idea.
Redox:
If you begin to look into redox reactions, especially involving electrochemistry, there are quite a few interesting topics in the area…

EXTRACURRICULAR READING

Chemistry review magazine
It’s a good idea to read articles etc about interesting bits of chemistry from outside the syllabus. If there’s a part of chemistry that you find particularly interesting, search for articles about it online.
One particularly good source for ideas is a magazine called ‘Chemistry Review’ that’s aimed at A-Level chemistry students. The magazine has lots of articles about interesting bits of chemistry from outside the syllabus but that are still linked to the course and are not abstract.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD IDEA?

A TOPIC FROM OUTSIDE OF THE EXISTING CHEMISTRY SYLLABUS

This doesn’t mean that you need to start learning very high level advanced chemistry, I just mean that it can’t be a simple kinetics experiment that comes straight from the syllabus. Try to find a topic that branches into parts of chemistry that aren’t studied in the course.

A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN SIMPLE AND COMPLEX

As I mentioned above, your experiment and topic cannot be mainly based on ‘basic’ science, it needs to be a more in-depth experiment. In a chemistry IA you might investigate the order of reaction in a certain reaction, but this investigation would not be worthy for an EE because the science behind it is relatively basic. The background research section of the EE written report is a big chunk of the word count; if you have nothing to write about (because it’s all ‘straight-forward from the syllabus) then your investigation will not form a good EE.

REAL WORLD APPLICATION

A good EE will have a real relevance in the world today. It’s even in the markscheme that you must outline why your research question is worthy of investigation. Think about the reaction you are investigating, where is it used in everyday science? Is it used in industry? Is it a reaction or topic that has potential, for example links to renewable energy and sustainable fuels?

TOP TIPS:

DO IN-DEPTH BACKGROUND RESEARCH INTO YOUR IDEAS

If you’ve done some pre-reading into your topic and experiment, you’ll easily be able to see if the idea is too complex or too simple, and whether the experiment can be done in a school lab

RUN YOUR IDEAS PAST A TEACHER!

(hopefully) these teachers have marked and supervised various EE’s before, if not written something similar themselves in their own time as a student. Their experience and knowledge is invaluable in coming up with an EE topic, make sure you ask them about it!

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