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Biology Idea - Too Simple?

Efficacy of Cleaning Agents  

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  1. 1. Would this make for an okay essay?



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So my idea is to test how efficient cleaning products work (soapy water, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, etc.) by basically growing a few petri dishes of bacteria and then putting each substance on the bacterial growth and analyzing results. What do you guys think? Too simple? Any thoughts or tips at all would be greatly appreciated.

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I'm sorry I am a bio-R-tard, but are bacteria living organisms? If so I am not sure if you can do an experiment on them due to ethical issues...

Taking yet another excerpt from my lovely EE pdf...

"Some topics are unsuitable for investigation because of ethical issues. Investigations that are based on

experiments likely to inflict pain on, or cause unnecessary stress to, living organisms are not appropriate

for submission. Investigations that are likely to have a harmful effect on health (for example, culturing

micro-organisms at or near body temperature), or those which may involve access to, or publication of,

confidential medical information, are also not appropriate."

Also, it has told me that your research question (RQ) is best in the form of a question.

Your thesis must be specific, you must make the effort to mention specific factors in affecting/causing something else (that is also specifically mentioned)

If you'd like, I can copy and paste the whole Bio EE section for you.

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The bacteria I'm using is a strain of E. Coli, it's pre-approved by the IB people. And I guess my research question would be something like: Which of the listed antiseptics are most efficient in the removal of E. Coli?

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isn't that quite a popular topic though? I can be wrong, I only remember learning something about e.coli in IGCSE (but I only remember the e.coli part, I don't remember what I learnt about it HAHA :P)

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Guest KAPOWW!!

Hi, even my EE topic is seemingly concise and short like yours, but seriously, not as short, so add a few more words, boost it up to 10 or 12 to look good. It's got potential, but its too small on its own, so do this, think of 2 more research questions on the same track and that will help you get to 4000 words! otherwise use this as an IA if you ditch this an EE ;)

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Hi, even my EE topic is seemingly concise and short like yours, but seriously, not as short, so add a few more words, boost it up to 10 or 12 to look good. It's got potential, but its too small on its own, so do this, think of 2 more research questions on the same track and that will help you get to 4000 words! otherwise use this as an IA if you ditch this an EE ;)

What about: Which product is most efficient in removing E. Coli while also being safe and practical for everyday use in dental offices, hospitals, schools, and homes?

Should I up the substances to ointment/neosporin, mouthwash, and toothpaste?

Maybe add in something about solid vs liquid? Gel/foam/liquid hand sanitizers? Body wash, hand wash, and bars of soap as well as soapy water?

Maybe have something specifically in the water section: Will increased rinsing time with water affect removal of E. Coli? One minute vs 10 seconds?

Maybe instead of growing the E. Coli in nutrient agar, grow it in the substance? For example, try growing E. Coli directly on a bar of soap.

What do you think? Anything I could add to it?

Thanks for the help btw :) I really appreciate it.

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Sorry, I don't think this would work for an extended essay...

I think this idea has simply been done too many times, and there are too many variants for it.

The reason I say that is because, this summer, I went to a program at the University of Toronto for 4 weeks in which each week covered different topics.

The 4th week dealt with microorganisms, and one of the labs we did was EXACTLY like your topic. In fact, I would say it was more complex than yours, because not only did we test different substances and their effects on different microorganisms, we also did ANOTHER lab afterwards that was more practical. In this lab, we actually examined the amount of bacteria directly on our hands, and tested how much different substances worked. We also tested different methods, such as air drying your hands as opposed to a paper towel or hand dryer.

In the end, I'd advise against using this topic. True, its simple, but so is mine, and somehow I'm going to make it work. However, it isn't very original, unless you present the data in a way thats new.

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Hi, even my EE topic is seemingly concise and short like yours, but seriously, not as short, so add a few more words, boost it up to 10 or 12 to look good. It's got potential, but its too small on its own, so do this, think of 2 more research questions on the same track and that will help you get to 4000 words! otherwise use this as an IA if you ditch this an EE ;)

What about: Which product is most efficient in removing E. Coli while also being safe and practical for everyday use in dental offices, hospitals, schools, and homes?

Should I up the substances to ointment/neosporin, mouthwash, and toothpaste?

Maybe add in something about solid vs liquid? Gel/foam/liquid hand sanitizers? Body wash, hand wash, and bars of soap as well as soapy water?

Maybe have something specifically in the water section: Will increased rinsing time with water affect removal of E. Coli? One minute vs 10 seconds?

Maybe instead of growing the E. Coli in nutrient agar, grow it in the substance? For example, try growing E. Coli directly on a bar of soap.

What do you think? Anything I could add to it?

Thanks for the help btw :) I really appreciate it.

Sorry, I didn't notice that you made another post.

As for this, I'm not so sure. Although the basis of the topic still isnt very original, you're definitely making it less simple, which may or may not be good. However, I like the idea of growing it directly on a bar of soap. Perhaps you could expand that idea somehow?

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What if I changed it to an experiment where I did something with contaminating a bar of soap and then getting some people to wash their hands with it to see if the E. Coli would cross over to their hands, would that be original? Is that even allowed? (using human test subjects)

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I don't think that would work.

I'm not an expert on IB guidelines, so I'm not sure if thats allowed. However, by using a harmless strain of E. Coli, I'm pretty sure it should be.

As for the experiment itself..

If you deal with humans, you need a lot of them. In my Biology EE, I dealt with humans, and it took a LOT of effort to simply get 25 humans, which I'm pretty sure is the bare minimum. However, I was really hoping for 30. Hopefully, I can get a good mark with the bare minimum...

As for simply contaminating them with the bar of soap,

-First you need to make sure you can contaminate the bar of soap with a harmless strain of E. Coli

-And even then, I don't think it's very good, I did that as part of my lab while I was at the University of Toronto (lol, we played a game where we would infect everyone's hands using a bacteria known as Serratia...or something, and then we used deductive logic to figure out who the original carrier was :P) and the short answer, is yes, they will be contaminated, most likely. However, most people would assume that using common sense. Also, I think that's getting a little bit too simple.

Sorry, I'm not the best with creating ideas. It took me a long time to pick my topic. However, can you think of any other ways to deal with bacteria?

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Hmm :/

With bacteria, I can either try to grow it or try to kill it. If I had an experiment where I try to grow it, it would be something like testing which surfaces harbor more bacteria/encourage growth. I could test foods, sugary vs salty, veggies vs meats etc. Or places, piano keys/keyboards/pencils/cutting boards/utensils etc. but I feel like that has been done too much. Maybe I could do something that involves friction, if an object with friction (touches human hands more often) has more bacteria than an object that starts with bacteria and isn't touched. Would the bacteria rub off on the hand or vice verca? Like the "Can moss grow on a rolling stone?" except with bacteria and ... I don't know where I was going with that, nevermind.

If I want to kill it, I would have to test chemicals on it (like my original post) or use techniques like putting them in some kind of gas where they would die. Maybe putting them in jar and filling it with carbon dioxide or some other germ-killing gas.

I can't really come up with anything else related to bacteria...

I wonder if there's a list of experiments that real scientists are working on now.

Edited by Oblivious

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Maybe you can do something involving food? For example, what is the most effective way to get rid of bacteria in food? Heat is one, but maybe you could do the research for other methods, as I know of some but I'm not sure how much help I'm supposed to give you on this forum...

And from the lab that I did while at the University of Toronto, bacteria can be transmitted quite easily from just a touch :P

I'm not sure if there's a list of current experiments performed by scientists right now, but I DO know about http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/home

That website is mostly for clinical trials that involve diseases, and disorders, and drugs, etc. Judging by your EE, it may not be much of a help, but it's the first thing I thought of when you told me. Perhaps have a look around, see the clinical trials performed on diseases caused by bacterial infections, see what they involve, and get some inspiration? I highly doubt that any of the trials there can be done by you, as they are professional and involve equipment and substances you probably don't have access to....But it may give you ideas.

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I just did a quick google search and it seems like a vinegar-water solution gets rid of surface bacteria pretty well, could I test that?

And I know heat kills bacteria, so would coldness I guess. Maybe I could freeze foods and see the results from that? Maybe boil them, or just soak them in water? Hmm, will do more research on that later, what do you think thus far?

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I think the second idea is better, but needs more research to develop it.

As for the vinegar one, I don't see how you would write 4000 words on that. By testing the effectiveness of it on different surfaces?

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fyi I know of someone whose bio EE is just investigating photosyntiesis and got an A... so if you are a good writer please don't choose complicated, sophisticated, advanced experiments whatsoever. what factors affect the growth of bacteria? sorry it's been 1.8 years and I sucked at bio back then but perhaps it's something related to humidity or light intensity too? or something? I can't remember what but you can just do an experiment as simple as that! why bother picking a difficult topic?

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fyi I know of someone whose bio EE is just investigating photosyntiesis and got an A... so if you are a good writer please don't choose complicated, sophisticated, advanced experiments whatsoever. what factors affect the growth of bacteria? sorry it's been 1.8 years and I sucked at bio back then but perhaps it's something related to humidity or light intensity too? or something? I can't remember what but you can just do an experiment as simple as that! why bother picking a difficult topic?

I think the biggest factors that are involved are originality as well as clear effort shown. I've read a lot of biology EEs ranging from very simple to incredibly complex, and the only thing I noticed (which my mentor told me to keep in mind, 6 months ago when I was picking my topic) was that the ones involving a lot of work and originality got the best marks. Being a good writer is important though.

Maybe the one on photosynthesis was really original, or involved a significant amount of work?

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-.- seriously though if only I could change my EE subject to physics or chem I'd just do a simple experiment on something that is not yet clear to me but which might result in something new.

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If its not yet clear to you yet, trust me, it takes a reallllyyy long time to pick a good topic.

Not to mention that data can go in every direction :(

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So freezing foods got me thinking about food preservation/cleaning, maybe I could experiments about that. For example, if washing an apple in a saline solution and then rinsing with normal water does any better than popping the apple in the freezer for a couple minutes. Hmm, I need to find out how long it takes for E. Coli to die by freezing ... Anyway, should I keep researching this idea and add more experiments or go a different route?

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