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JDuncan5876

Physics EE Topic?

I'm writing my Extended Essay in Physics, and I've been having some trouble coming up with topic ideas. I have a research period in the school library during TOK in a couple days and I would like to have a general direction going by then.

So I play clarinet, and was thinking about doing something in that area for my experiment. I know that the IB Examiner reports said that essays about the physics of music generally did well, so I think it's a solid option. But my only problem is, what should I do? I can't just talk about the waveform that a clarinet has, I have to be able to at least manipulate something and show a relationship. I was considering a few possibilities, such as an examination of the reed density distribution and how it affects tone quality (would be difficult to acquire quantitative data), how the length of the clarinet affects tuning (ie you pull the barrel out when you're sharp), or how the waveform of the instrument blends in an ensemble (again, difficult to acquire quantitative data, and likely to be difficult to understand mathematically anyway). My Physics teacher showed me an exemplar EE on music, specifically the relationship between the tension and a drum head and the frequency which it created when struck (or something to that effect). Unfortunately, I didn't get much from it, because it ended up being so complicated that even as an HL Math student, I was completely lost. So ideas or suggestions for me to research further would certainly be appreciated here.

The other option is to do something with kinematics, which I really enjoy. I believe that even though I have a more personal connection with the clarinet, I would enjoy an essay on something in kinematics equally. The exemplar essay I read in kinematics about the effects of slipping on a cylinder rolling down an inclined plane was quite interesting, and I believe that I would have enjoyed performing the experiment that the writer conducted. Kinematics would ensure a relatively simple - and accurate - experimental set-up, while ensuring that I do not end up involved in some topic I which is far beyond my current capacity to comprehend. My true passion in physics is electricity and computers, but due to the fallibility of school lab equipment when it comes to electricity and magnetism experiments, I would prefer to stay away from this topic.

So that's basically what I have. Note that I am certainly not requesting someone to think of a research question, or even a topic, for me. Some ideas to guide my research would be immensely helpful.

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It seems like you are on the right track. I did my EE on rotational mechanics, and the results weren't too bad. Kinematics/Dynamics can be quite simple and easy to perform. Electricity experiments will probably be the best topic to get accurate results. Random error is not too prevalent and you can get very accurate results with cheap equipment.

If you truly want a challenge, I think you should pursue something about acoustics as it sounds very interesting. A good EE does not have to be "perfect" - rather, you get a lot of marks for following the guidelines to writing an EE. Hopefully you won't choose something that is too beyond your reach, but a good challenge can keep you motivated for the months/year to come. Personally, I like your idea of length and tuning because it seems to be a fairly easy concept.

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What do you mean the fallibility of school equipment? I did mine on solar cell, and I only needed voltmeter and ammeter. I built my own decade box because the school didn't have one. If even the voltmeter and ammeter in your school are faulty, just buy them yourselves, if you have a topic in electricity. They're not too expensive. I nearly had to buy my own infrared thermometer as well. Many students in my school who do group 4 EE end up having to fork up a lot of their own money in buying apparatus or chemicals or some other materials.

For acoustics, there is usually at least one person every year who would do something about oobleck and sound waves. I'm not entirely sure what exactly they do though.

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For acoustics, there is usually at least one person every year who would do something about oobleck and sound waves. I'm not entirely sure what exactly they do though.

lol

So true. Only 3~5 people do physics EEs at my school each year and there has been an EE on oobleck (corn starch) each year. One of my friends this year did an EE on impact velocity of a ball on cornstarch-water solutions.

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