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Biology EE

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Hey! So for my EE, I chose biology as my subject. Obviously, I didnt know what I was getting myself into... haha anyways, while I was brainstorming for a topic a while back, I thought of something. My parents have been getting us the Sigg Bottles (Swiss, eco-friendly aluminum water bottles), which are supposedly more hygienic than most regular plastic bottles, which can leak the harmful chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Interested, I read some articles and found out that BPA leaks more when plastic is hot. I thought I could heat a Sigg bottle and a plastic bottle for different lengths of times and compare the amt of BPA, as well as write about its effects on humans and all that lovely jazz. I think it’s pretty interesting, and thought maybe I could do an EE on that… EXCEPT I don't have the resources/equipment to measure the BPA (furthermore, the amounts leaked are very little). Furthermore, it might be more Chemistry than Biology, and I'm not sure whether I could do an experiment on this, since it's pretty harmful to humans...

Here are some articles I found on it, if you need some reference or guidance.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/are-sigg-aluminum-bottles-bpa-free.php

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521141208.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422114734.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130092108.htm

Are there any other possible approaches to this topic? If not, any ideas for an similar, alternative topic? Thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions!

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Well it's not really a Biology topic - unless you do experiments to see how harmful it is to people (!!!). Chemistry possibly if you can work out what's going on with the input of heat etc. and how it's having an effect on a molecular level.

Obviously you can't do human/animal experiments for an EE, unless it's cognitive behaviour sort of stuff. So you can look into things like memory, or neurologically based things, or selective foraging behaviour/responses etc. Are you doing Option E? The whole neurobio. and behaviour stuff is all quite interesting. Other than that, you're looking at experiments on plants and 100% human friendly bacteria, as that's all the IB will allow. Animal/human harm/cruelty is off the cards, understandably! :P

Unless you want to switch to Chem and can find a way to measure the BPA (a local university might be willing to let you use their equipment?) you may be at a bit of a dead end with that topic.

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You don't have to gas humans or anything. You could do the comparitive experiment and write on that, and do research on what it could and would and does do to humans.

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Yeah, I definitely wasn't planning on experimenting on humans cause of that whole ethics thing, hehe. I really wanted to do the comparitive experiment, except I read that you'd need some fancy gadget doodads that I'm not sure I even have access to, even at university laboratories. Furthermore, some plastics don't leak BPA at all, and even when they do, it is in extremely small amounts. I'm thinking this would be much easier to approach as a research essay rather then experimental (it's always the method of experimenting that's hard! >_<) but of course, research based EE's score lower. But now that I'm thinking about it, I'm really not picky with the score, as long as I pass! XD" However, I did find some quantitative data on BPA amounts in an experiment done by someone else. If I'm not mistaken, is using someone else's data permissible for EE (given credit, of course)? Ah gee, I am so confused about this! And if I do research about, to quote IB=Hell, "what it could and would and does do to humans.," then it would be more biology than chemistry (which is good cause I wanted to do Bio). Ugh, any comments/suggestions? :P

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Yes, you can cite someone else's experiments. If you truly just want to get a passing grade on your EE, then go for it, I guess. Just one thing--if you followed through with IB=Hell's suggestion, I think that your topic would have significant parts related to both chemistry and biology. Perhaps more chemistry still. If you submit it as biology, you'll have to cover your bases quite thoroughly by explaining all of the chem stuff in full detail so that your grader isn't lost. I guess what I have to ask you and what you have to ask yourself is if you totally married to this idea.

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Why take so many risks and make life so complicated? I have heard of essays that followed most guidelines but still dont score well....but if you are starting out by doing things not recommended then you might 'just pass' but theres always a chance you might not. Do some sort of experiment and dont risk it - and you will not much credit for the chemistry involved if you send it in as a biology essay(and vice-versa).

Edited by master135

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yeah thats a chemistry type topic, so work in this perspective.

If you do that, just know temperature is really hard to control.

While Bunsen burner is a good idea for heating water for a lab regarding something like heat release (cause you know the temp), an experiment where they are looking for small increments of temp is going to be hard for you to control. Bunsen burners heat unevenly and they also have increments 1-10 which are like a logarithmic scale, each one increases temperature by a large range.

I didnt believe this and performed a check. I took 5 bunsen burners and a temp recorder that was accurate to 0.01 +/- F. I set water in each, same volume, same type of glass cup. Then I turned each to a setting of 2,4,6,8,10. I found that there was no specific correlation between the temperature and setting, and it appeared to reach random heating levels.

So you will need somethnig more accurate that will regulate temp.

Just something my professor said: dont work with temperature when you have to look at labratory investigations of the obvious (like PH, temp, and other water qualities. Out of all of those, temp is the hardest one to really control under these temp. specific experiments).

Just remember also, you should know going in what is occurring at the molecular level. Make sure you know what it is about temp. that I would guess breaks the solid molecular structure of this complex plastic. Also Titration ( a complex process) would need to be used to get the 0.001 range of that chemical. You can work with it, but under supervision.

It is complex, but I find that if you can actually approach these topics the right way then you can get a lot out of it. There is logic in having Lab only grade in college for science. It teaches you so much in practice.

dont risk any topics that overlap. work within a given subject, and since this is not a suitable topic for you it seems, you might want to switch to somethnig with simplicity.

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Alright, so I've set my mind on NOT going along with this idea, as I am convinced it is more Chemistry than Biology, and it would be hard for me to obtain the data myself...

I still want to do something regarding water and water bottles, but maybe instead of the BPA (and chemicals in general, which would make it CHEMISTRY), I could do bacteria. I was thinking of doing something about how bacteria grows every time you re-use a water bottle (which most people do to save bottles) and the method of reducing that bacteria in the water and on the spout. But then that bacteria would come from the mouth, and I read in the guidelines, "investigations that are likely to have a harmful effect on health (for example, culturing micro-organisms at or near body temperature.)" Would this violate that? Because the bacteria would originate from the mouth, but it wouldnt really be at body temperature, would it? I'm confused. Thanks for all responses to my previous question, and I hope someone can clarify this new post of mine. :P

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I'm not sure. On one hand, the bacteria already reside in the person's mouth, so how harmful could they be? But then again, they could be pathogenic in larger concentrations or something or perhaps harmful if exposed to someone different than the host. This is a good question to take to your supervisor. Sorry... can't help more.

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