Biology Extended Essay Topics Photosynthesis Video


Some of you have asked about EE in Biology.  Biology is challenging, and statistically, grades are lower on EEs in biology than Literature, History or Korean.  having said that, it can be VERY interesting! and FUN!!  If you are considering EE in biology, here are some things students are doing now and a list of brainstorm topics they have though of below. 


2011 DP biology graduates' EE topics:

Keun Ho Choi - "Does the UV light (in a cup keeper in restaurants in Korea) really make a differnece to growth of bacteria on cups?"

Yeana Jang - "How well does benedict's reagent quantitatively measure gluose concentration in solution?"

Louis Kim - "To what degree does coriander (cilantro) oil have antibiotic action against E. coli?"

Several other projects we started but did not do:

    • When you put a plasmid into a bacteria, can you retrieve the plasmid again?
    • Does caffeine afect the metabolic rate of mice?
    • Does garlic act against stimulating affect of caffeine in mice?
    • Does eating garlic cause mice to lose weight?
    • Does amylase (enzyme) digest different starches (like potato or corn or rice of wheat) to different degrees?


Here are some other ideas for possible extended essay topics (in rough form):



    • Play rhythm then stop and have subject try to maintain rhythm.  Record their rhytm 60 s later.  Do musicians have a better internal metronome tham non-musicians (or age, or gender)?
    • Is there a relationship between eardrum tension and sensitivity to sound (hearing threshold?)
    • Does the protein content of varnish affect the tone of wood (like a cello?)
    • Does resonance of pitch of wood affected by mositrue content?  In other words, could resonance (or change in resonance) be an indicator of wood mositure (ie. related to making instruments)



  • Compare absorbance of tropical vs temperate plants to see if they have different absorbances in cholorophyll (based on receiving light of differnt wavelengths over the course of a year)
  • in Spring, leaves on end of branhces are reddish and light green while older leaves are "greener."  What are the pigment differences taht make leaves different colors with respect to leaf ages?
  • Seaweed grows under water but plants grow on land. 
    • Does seaweed have different pigments for photosynthesis? 
    • Maybe red seaweed and green seaweed have differnt pigments from each other?



  • Do different tissue have different amounts of catalase?
  • Use x-ray or UV to cause mutation in E. Coli and measure mutation rate
  • cat wrapped in foil cannot balance (does foil interefere with magnetism from earth? do cat's balance with magnetism?
  • sea urchin development
  • enzymes denature at high temperature; are all low temperature treatment reversible?


BEHAVIOR (this has to have biological basis)

  • why does one person yawning cause others to yawn?
  • when you laugh, what causes you to "lose" strength?



  • Are there factors in soap that make a bigger difference than alcohol to remove bactiera?  Surfactant? Detergents? to make water "wetter?"  What affect bacteria the most
  • Does toilet really have more gersm than desks ... since urine is sterile and poop goes into bowl ... (or does bidet have less germs since users do not touch their bottom? etc
  • Hydrogen peroxide is commonly prescribed as a topical antibiotic and applying it to an open cut produces foaming action.
    •  H2O2 foaming is result of catalase, not bacteriacidal action; how do you know it is killing bacteria?
    • Measure the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide as bacterialicide
    • How effective does iodine kill bacteria (bacteriacide predating hydrogen peroxide)
  • Can we replicate the antibiotic affect of Fleming's famous experiment using bread mold to kill bacteria?



  • Develop a protocol for enzyme extraction from potatoes. 
  • How can you isolate catalase from potato to make a "pure" enzyme?  (ie. centrifuge, buffer, solvent separation, etc.) This is similar design to DNA isolation method.
  • Modify protocol to maximize production of DNA from published extraction method?



  • Compare commercial yeast sold for bread making with "natural" yeast in the air. 
    • Is natural yeast better for raising bread? 
    • Is your natural yeast one species or more than one species?
    • How can you tell the yeasts are different species? 
    • What conditions produce maximum respiration rate in yeast?
    • Look at process of respiration: how are yeast different? What can we experiment on with regard to yeast unique respiration method?



  • how does lack of sleep affect student performance?
  • What specific skills, if any, are affected by sleep shrotage (ie. less than 8 hours per night)
  • Is little sleep a help to students or a hindrance?


...and MORE

  • do plants growing in shade have greater varety of pigments to permit use of wider range of colors of light than plants that grow in full sun?
  • Compare pigment in red cells on bottom of leaf with pigments in green cells on top of leaf; is there a difference in absorption spectrum?
  • What temperature can proteins handle before functional denaturation?  or How cold can proteins go and still be functional?  or Does size of protein make larger proteins more succeptible to temperature dufferences than small proteins when frozen?
  • does antibiotic action of honey depend on sugar concentration or enzymes? (use heat test to see!)
  • does glucose or another carbohydrate attract ants/bees?
  • How does meat attract bees?
  • Does water stress determine the number of stomata on a leaf?
  • Does water stress determine action of mimosa plant?
  • when - if at all - should roasted meat b salted in the roasting process to prevent toughness (dehydration/denaturation)?
  • Since conifers have needles all year, do they have pigments for absorbing more low energy radiation than deciduous trees?
  • What glucose concentration produces maximum pollen tube growth rate in lillies?
  • Investigate the relationship between plant density and plant productivity (based on noticing that rice planted in May in Korea is spaced apparently widely apart; why do farmers not plant rice more densely to get more rice production?)
  • Does transpiration rate affect "leaf lifting" in bean plants (re: circadian rhythms of plants)
  • Does N or P more strongy affect plant productivity?
  • What are the limiting issues for plants growing in Korea's in-organic soil (the sandy soil that so many gardens are planted in.)
  • What nutrients, if any, are in Korea's soil (re; personal gardening)




Biology Extended Essay

"It really felt like we were just at summer camp when we were there. There's plenty of down time to relax or play games and days when, if you're not collecting data, you can help other people or just enjoy the park. We spent an entire day canoeing on Crescent Lake helping collect data for those who were investigating it, but we also took time off to explore some of the land around the lake most people didn't have access to. Our Naturebridge guides were really cool and fun to talk to as well. I never felt like I was working once - the teachers did a really good job of spacing everything out and keeping us on track.  It was like science summer camp. I left the experience with my EE done, lots of new friends, and a great adventure to look back on. The food was really great too!"  -B.T. (class of 2016)
We will depart Skyline High School the afternoon of (date TBD).  We will spend six nights in the National Park at the NatureBridge facility at Lake Crescent.  ​

We will have access to multiple watersheds and forests for data collection and exploration!  Time will be set aside for students to meet with teachers related to problem question selection, experimental design, analysis and formatting of an extended essay.  Students will write the initial reflection pieces for the extended essay while in the national park.  It's not all work -- we manage to have a lot of fun, laughter, team building and adventure too!

Our group will return to Skyline on the evening of (date TBD).  The rest of the week is spent with students focusing on completing the extended essay. 

Grading:  Students will earn a letter grade for the class.  We primarily rely on non-achievement criteria when assigning a grade for the course; meaning your work habits, initiative, collaboration and citizenship are equally (or more) important than the final essay or product you produce for the class. An "A" will be earned if:
  • Student is on-time and participating in all group activities
  • Student submits reflective writing assignments on time
  • Student works through challenges without getting overly frustrated or complainy
  • Student engages effectively with peers and teachers
  • Student collaborates in a productive, inclusive and respectful manner 
  • Student uses and returns materials properly
  • Student completes process assignments prior to individual meeting with supervisors
  • Student engages in the experiment and writing process with a positive, eager attitude
  • Student submits a draft essay for peer scoring by the deadline.
  • Student submits a draft essay for teacher feedback by the deadline.
  • Student submits a revised version of the essay by the end of the course.
Video by Eric Z, class of 2016
Students have the option of joining the Summer Ecology Research class as a way of completing their extended essay project.  As part of a summer school course, we spend 5-7 days at the NatureBridge facility in the Olympic National Park. Students design and collect data related to a field ecology research problem of their choosing.  You do NOT need to be an IB Diploma candidate to participate in the field course, however registration priority is given to IB diploma candidates and the class has a registration limit. 
"Thank you for organizing the Ecology trip and guiding me on my essay! It was truly an amazing and memorable experience."  N.M., class of 2015
Registration for the 2018 Summer Ecology Research Course will open during Spring 2018.  Final payment will be due May 1, 2018.  The cost is determined by the total number of students who register; it is estimated to be around $1500.  The cost includes:
  • Transport to and from the Olympic National Park
  • Food and lodging while in the Olympic National Park
  • Summer school registration fee

Once we have a full registration, there will be a meeting with teachers and students to discuss course logistics,  extended essay requirements and packing.  Date for this meeting is TBD.
Video by Jasmine C., class of 2018


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