The new IA needs to be addressed very soon. If you have not given this some thought, then you could be heading for problems.

The Old and New.  As teachers will know, the new form of the Gp4 IA is very different to the old.  In some ways better and in others, worse.  Whatever you think of it, it is here to stay … for a few years anyway.  One of the good things is that it is a single piece of work, which means that it can be done with a minimum of fuss and it is possible if it is done right, to get it out of the way quickly and the gains in teaching time could be significant. The benefits for your students could be huge – it means that the normal situation of having to do more and more pieces of IA in the final January/February of the final year is no more – reducing the pressure and stress on the students.  The negative is that if you do it in IB1 (as I am), then you will face pressure to do it again (and again …) if the students do not get a good score.  Control of expectations is going to be important.

This blog will be focusing on the initial planning for the IA.  The method I am using is based on two things:

  1. I know how to do a good piece of ‘research’ for an IA (or EE).
  2. I need to address the Personal Engagement (PE) marks.

The second point is what is driving my method for starting up the IA – even though the marks are small for PE (0 to 2), they are marks I want my students to get.  As such, I have set up the following scheme:

  • Have a 5 minute interview with every HL and SL student – if anyone wants my interview sheet, email me and I will provide a copy.
  • Discuss briefly, the following:

Are there any areas of Physics or technology that particularly interest you?

What are your hobbies?

What sports do you like watching and playing?

Do you play any instruments?

What future area(s) of work or career do you have in mind?

That’s it.  Once I have this information, I then go to the BBC archive of episodes of “In Our Times” and find one that I think links to the possible interests of the student and has a theme that I know might generate ideas for a good piece of experimental research.

I then send them a web link to the episode, ask them to listen to the episode and make a spider diagram (or mind map) of the material and from this, they have another 5 minute interview/meeting to discuss what might make a good piece of work.

The ideas that come up from these programmes are amazing and should easily provide material the student can comment on in order to show a good measure of PE.  It also creates a situation where, even though this whole process has been led by the teacher, the student feels that it has largely been due to them … and they are (hopefully) therefore engaged.

Note a point I make above – the work I will do will be ‘practical’.  There are a number of different possible forms for the IA but for me, the clear winner when it comes to addressing the marking scheme (and actually doing something that the student may get something significant from) is the practical option – I am not entertaining anything else.

This will allow me to select the work and get it started – hopefully with enthusiastic students.

They will take on the work over the summer term with the view that it will be written up and completed by the end of the term i.e., for the summer break.

If I can do this, then I am sure my students will all be very happy – I know I will!