The Extended Essay (EE) is an important component of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, and it requires students to conduct independent research on a topic of their choice. Biology is a popular subject for the EE, as it offers opportunities for students to explore a wide range of topics related to living organisms and their interactions with the environment. In this article, we will discuss some potential biology EE topics and provide guidance on how to approach the research process.
The effects of environmental factors on plant growth and development.
Plants are essential for maintaining ecosystems and providing food for humans and other animals. However, their growth and development can be affected by various environmental factors, such as temperature, light, water availability, and nutrient levels. An EE on this topic could investigate how different environmental factors affect the growth and development of a particular plant species, or compare the growth of different plant species under different environmental conditions. Students could use a range of experimental techniques, such as controlled growth chambers or field experiments, to gather data on plant growth and development.
The impact of human activities on aquatic ecosystems.
Aquatic ecosystems are under increasing pressure from human activities such as pollution, overfishing, and climate change. An EE on this topic could investigate the effects of a particular human activity on a particular aquatic ecosystem, such as a river or lake. Students could use a range of methods to gather data, such as water quality tests, biodiversity surveys, and analysis of sediment samples. The findings of the research could be used to inform conservation efforts or policy decisions aimed at protecting aquatic ecosystems.
The role of genetics in the development of cancer.
Cancer is a complex disease that can be caused by a range of genetic and environmental factors. An EE on this topic could investigate how particular genetic mutations or variations are linked to the development of cancer, or compare the genetic profiles of different types of cancer cells. Students could use a range of techniques to analyze DNA, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis. The findings of the research could be used to inform the development of new cancer treatments or diagnostic tools.
The impact of climate change on animal behavior.
Climate change is affecting the behavior of many animal species, as they adapt to changes in temperature, precipitation, and other environmental factors. An EE on this topic could investigate how a particular animal species is responding to climate change, such as changes in migration patterns or breeding behavior. Students could use a range of methods to gather data, such as field observations, satellite tracking, and analysis of animal DNA. The findings of the research could be used to inform conservation efforts aimed at protecting vulnerable animal species.
The use of biotechnology in agriculture.
Biotechnology has the potential to revolutionize agriculture by enabling the development of crops that are more resistant to pests and diseases, and that have higher yields. An EE on this topic could investigate the use of biotechnology in a particular crop species, such as genetically modified (GM) maize or soybeans. Students could use a range of methods to gather data, such as field trials, laboratory experiments, and surveys of farmers. The findings of the research could be used to inform debates about the safety and ethics of GM crops.
Approaching the Research Process
Once you have chosen a biology EE topic, you will need to develop a research question that is specific, focused, and relevant to the topic. Your research question should be based on a clear hypothesis or research aim, and it should be feasible to answer within the time and resource constraints of the EE.
Next, you will need to develop a research plan that outlines the methods you will use to gather and analyze data. Your research plan should be based on a clear and logical sequence of steps, and it should be designed to test your research question in a rigorous and systematic way.
To gather data, you may need to use a range of methods, such as laboratory experiments, field observations, surveys, or data analysis. You will also need to consider ethical issues related to your research, such as the welfare of animals used in experiments or the privacy of human subjects.
Once you have gathered your data, you will need to analyze it using appropriate statistical or qualitative methods. Your analysis should be based on your research question and should aim to test your hypothesis or research aim.
Finally, you will need to write up your EE in a clear and structured way, following the guidelines set out by the IB. Your EE should include an introduction, a literature review, a methodology section, a results section, a discussion section, and a conclusion. You should also include any necessary appendices, such as raw data or detailed experimental procedures.
A biology EE can be a challenging but rewarding experience that allows students to develop their research skills and explore a topic of interest in depth. By choosing a relevant and focused research question, developing a robust research plan, and conducting rigorous data analysis, students can produce a high-quality EE that demonstrates their understanding of biology and their ability to conduct independent research.