Physics for the IB DiplomaInternal Assessment in IB Physics: Student supportYour IB science course and your grade2Background2IA content2Investigation types2The IA overview3Teacher’s responsibility4Student’s responsibility4Assessment criteria5Personal cation6AdviceCopyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.6Page 1 of 7

Physics for the IB DiplomaYOUR IB SCIENCE COURSE AND YOUR GRADEYour final IB grade for your group 4 science course is based on three examination papers and anindependent research project, called an ‘internal assessment’ or IA. The IA is a scientificinvestigation that mirrors a real-world scientific study. You will define your own uniqueresearch question and, with the guidance of your teacher, you will spend about ten hours ofclass time working on your IA. Your investigation grade will contribute 20% to your totalscience grade, so it is important that you do your best with this assignment.BACKGROUNDBefore your teacher introduces you to the internal assessment investigation you will haveexperienced a wide range of scientific theory and a wide range of related experimental work.You will have learnt about safety and environmental issues in science, you will have workedwith a variety of scientific equipment, and you will have studied scientific methods, includingthe handling of uncertainties, the construction of graphs and charts, and evaluating techniquesand methodologies. You will have learnt ICT skills, such as word-processing, data-logging anddata analysis using a spreadsheet as well as graphing using appropriate software. And, ofcourse, you will have learnt how to work on the internet and interact with computersimulations as well as work with online databases.IA CONTENTThe scientific content of your IA needs only to be in line with the course you are taking. Thismeans that if you are a Standard Level student, your IA need not go beyond the course contentof Standard Level. The skills and knowledge you require for the IA are well within the courselimits. This does not mean, however, that you cannot study topics or issues that take you beyondthe course content. Moreover, you can apply methods and techniques that go beyond the coursecontent. The opportunities are there for you to follow up on something that interests you.INVESTIGATION TYPESThe IA criteria allow for and indeed encourage a wide range of investigation types.Hands-on investigations – This includes many traditional experiments. Your teacher mayoutline a number of standard investigations. The hands-on investigation type alsoincludes non-traditional research questions, where questions are open-ended andexploratory. You may not know the answers to your research question but you willinvestigate it.Copyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 2 of 7

Physics for the IB DiplomaModelling and spreadsheet investigations – Here you may process primary orsecondary data and analyse it with a computer model. Spreadsheets andgraphing software can be used in all investigation types. In some cases, real data can becompared to ideal data (based on theory) by using a spreadsheet or designing amathematic model.Database investigations – Here you would access online databases for scientificinformation. You would design a method to answer your research question using thedatabase, and perhaps graph or model the results. There is an increasing amount ofonline scientific data, and your teacher can help you here.Computer-simulation investigations – Investigations may involve computer simulations.Here, you can obtain information or data that can be uniquely processed to discoversomething that goes beyond the simulation’s routine. You can combine a hands-oninvestigation with a computer model and compare the results.Hybrid investigations – The types of investigations are not exclusive categories but ratherillustrate the wide range of acceptable investigation approaches. An investigation canmake use of any of these approaches.THE IA OVERVIEWYour investigation should have a purposeful research question and a scientific rationale for thestudy. The IA models a real scientific study in style, form and content. The following is anoverview of the internal assessment.Research question – You are to define your own unique research question. However, youteacher can guide you into plausible and productive areas. You should have some topicor idea about what to study before you talk to your teacher.Guidance – Your teacher will be there to help with technical issues and to guide youthrough the entire IA process. However, success is up to you. Your IA is your work, notthe teacher’s work. Your teacher will provide a structure and all the information youneed about the requirements and expectations.Time allocation – You will be given ten hours of class time but you can do additional workon your own.Research – You are expected to do academic research on your topic. You need to set yourresearch question in a proper scientific content.Copyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 3 of 7

Physics for the IB DiplomaReport length – Your final report will be between 6 to 12 pages (excessive lengthwill be penalised). The maximum length includes footnotes or references as wellas data tables, graphs and charts, pictures and, of course, text.Personal involvement – You are expected to ‘own’ your investigation, to demonstratesome insight, initiative or personal interest in your investigation. This is what makes thework fun.Self-management – You are responsible for your work, including meeting deadlines.Technology skills – You need to use ICT skills, including word-processing, spreadsheets,graphing software, and internet searches. You must also know how to reference all theresources you use.Presentation – The final report will be electronic, with word-processed text, mathematicalequations and electronically drawn graphs. The entire report should be a singledocument, including appropriate referencing.TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITYYour teacher will explain the IA requirements to you. Here is an outline of what to expect. Yourteacher will: introduce the ideas and expectations of the IA explain the scheduling and internal deadlines outline the wide range of possible investigation types provide an overview of available science resources and materials outline a number of plausible investigation topics provide you with several exemplar IA reports provide you with one-to-one consultation to help you define a research question approve or reject your research question before you start work give you class time to perform your investigation provide feedback to you on your first draft and give you time to make revisions.STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITYYou are responsible for having all the appropriate ICT skills, from word-processing andspreadsheet analysis, to using graphing software as well as knowing how to search the internet.You must also know how to write a science report. Your teacher will help you here, and yourbiggest responsibility is to guarantee the authenticity of your work. This means your work mustbe your own work, and that any resources used (ideas, text, data, pictures) are appropriatelyCopyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 4 of 7

Physics for the IB Diplomareferenced. Plagiarism is a serious academic and moral crime, and any cheating willresult in failure.Your teacher will double-check the authenticity of your IA report, but you will sign an IB formconfirming that your work is indeed your own work. This is why references (giving credit,referencing) are so important.You are also responsible for your own time management. You are expected to meet thedeadlines your teacher assigns, as well as accepting the general advice that your teacher givesyou about your work.Finally, you should be enthusiastic about your work; you should demonstrate initiative and eveningenuity in the planning, design and production of your IA. You should be dedicated toscientific problem solving. After all, your IA is your investigation.ASSESSMENT CRITERIAYour IA is a unique scientific investigation. No two students will do the same thing, although twoor more students may investigate the same general topic. The IA is to have a purposefulresearch question and a scientific rationale for the study.To help you understand the parameters of the IA you should look at the assessment criteria inthe IB Course Guide. These are not to be understood as a checklist but rather they represent theskills and content that are expected in a good IA. Your teacher will mark your report when youare finished so you do not have to worry about applying the criteria. You should, however, befamiliar with the five assessment criteria and what aspects you should address.Each criterion begins with a general statement of what is assessed. Your teacher will provideyou with a detailed list of the assessment descriptors, the statements regarding what you areexpected to address in your lab report. The following comments about each criterion are to helpyou appreciate what is being addressed in each. Because of the wide range of possibleinvestigations, not all descriptors may be applicable. If, for example, you work with a computersimulation, there may be no safety issues (which are assessed under the Exploration criterion).Personal engagementThis criterion addresses your involvement in the investigation. It is important that you areinterested in your topic such that you can demonstrate independent thinking, initiative orcreativity. You must also demonstrate a justification for your research question; perhaps thereis some personal significance, interest or curiosity here. Finally, you are to provide somepersonal input and initiative in the designing, implementation or presentation of theinvestigation. You are to ‘own’ your project, not just repeat something found in a scienceCopyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 5 of 7

Physics for the IB Diplomajournal. The expectations of personal engagement actually mean that you will have fundoing the work.ExplorationThis criterion addresses your ability to select, develop and apply the scientific method to aspecific issue. You are to express a well-defined research question, set it in an appropriatescientific context, and select relevant scientific equipment and methodologies to address yourquestion. You are to appreciate any factors that may influence the quality of your data. Finally,you should appreciate any safety, environmental, and ethical considerations that may berelevant.AnalysisThis criterion addresses your ability to obtain and process appropriate data in a way thataddresses your research question. This appreciation includes the treatment of errors anduncertainties where relevant, the presentation of graphs or charts, and the precision andaccuracy of your data. Analysis also concerns the validity of your data in relation to answeringyour research question.EvaluationThis criterion addresses your methodology and your results as set within a genuine andrelevant scientific context. It focuses on how well your data supports the conclusion, includingthe method and appreciating the strengths and weakness of your work. You are expected toprovide realistic and relevant suggestions for the improvement and extension of yourinvestigation.CommunicationThis criterion addresses the overall quality of your report; it is a holistic appreciation of thestyle and form of your presentation. You are expected to write in a clear and logical style that iseasy to follow. Your report needs to be relevant (no unnecessary explanations or tangentialissues) and concise (6 to 12 pages, and more than 12 pages will be penalised). The process andthe outcomes must be clearly stated. Appropriate scientific terminology and conventions mustbe followed, and graphs, tables, images, charts must all be presented in a clear way.ADVICEThe key to a successful IA investigation is in the initial planning. You will want to have a wellfocused research question, one that you and your teacher know you can research, experimenton, analyse the results, then conclude and evaluate within the scheduled time. Albert Einstein’sgenius came from seeing complicated phenomena in basic ways. His famous energy and massequation is as simple as 1 1 2, and yet the equation E mc2 is profound, insightful. In aCopyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 6 of 7

Physics for the IB Diplomasimilar way, but perhaps not expecting the Nobel Prize in science, you are to come up aninteresting and well-defined scientific investigation. This is science at its best.It is also important that when you do the research for your investigation you fully understandand appreciate the existing scientific context of your study. Although your final report shouldnot read like a textbook, you should demonstrate a competent understanding of the relevantscientific terminology, concepts and styles of presentation and analysis.Twenty percent of your total IB science grade is based on your IA. You will have time to study,revise, and receive your teacher’s help and advice, so the IA is a perfect opportunity to earn agood grade.Finally, you should have fun!Copyright Cambridge University Press 2014. All rights reserved.Page 7 of 7