Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

What Does One Do When an Experiment Fails?

Recommended Posts

I am writing my Extended Essay in Physics.  I am creating a circuit which accelerates a small spherical magnet through a solenoid.  My investigation is into the relationship between the voltage across the capacitor in this circuit which discharges and causes the acceleration and the distance achieved as a result of the acceleration.


I have done extensive research into RLC circuits and developed a rather ponderous model.  Unfortunately, despite checking my work numerous times, I looked over a missing variable in the final equation.  This has drastically changed the result, and I am afraid the experiment will not work.  I have already spent a decent amount of money on the parts and cannot afford to buy entirely new parts, especially since the minimum effective voltage spiked from 24V to almost 100V, thereby requiring a much more powerful source.  Since I have already purchased the parts, I will still assemble it and hope for the best, but unfortunately I believe that the accelerator itself is so weak at this point that there could be no substantial study into the relationship.  It may not work at all since the ball will have time to fall within the accelerator and will start rolling and changing polarities.  I am at a loss.  Do I just write about what should have happened?  Do I find a "coil gun" on the internet and cite their data (cite, not plagiarize), since it is practically the same experiment?  I do still have the combined equation and the original Java simulation I wrote, which could prove that I understand the topic.


I suppose that it would be impossible to get an A at this point on the EE, but something has to be turned in or I'll be expelled from the program.  I still have plenty of time for writing, but experimentation could be limited at this point.  What should I do?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what kind of advice I can give you, but here are your possible options:

1. Somehow borrow a 100V or go ask around universities as their labs may have one.

2. Do the experiment with a 24V anyway and perhaps write the EE with those results. But then again, this may mean you will have to either rewrite the whole EE so that you intended to use a 24V in the first place. If it really fails, then you don't really have anything to write about (like you have said, there could be no substantial study into the relationship). Hence, I would discourage you from making this the crux of your essay. However, even if it does fail...

3. Use data from internet and write your essay using this. Hopefully you are using raw data and processing it to match the needs of your EE. And you can add in your essay that you have done the experiment with 24V anyway, which may net you marks in holistic judgement (effort is shown) and what you have learned from it. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello~ I did an EE on Biology. I don't really understand exactly what your EE is about so I can't help you with the process but I can give you some advice. :)

My experiments kind of failed too. No conclusive results and it was pretty messy. (Cos it's bio -_-) But my supervisor told me that the IB examiners do not want to look at your "perfect" reports. They want to look at what you DID. The process. If you failed, they want to know why you failed and you just have to explain what happened in the report. Then, you can suggest that if you plan to do any more future/further research, you will change the method or change this or that and explain why it would work if you changed it in such ways. 


Don't worry too much! There are success stories of students still being able to get an A even though one failed the experiment. After all, they want to assess your "research mind", not your "perfect" report. 


And you can consult your supervisor too ;)

Hope that helped!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.