IA experiment ideas inspired by Youtube

IB Biology students sometimes has difficulty finding a topic of interest for their IA.
This is meant to be an individual project and before embarking on a10 hours of work it would be best to find something that is really interesting rather than testing osmosis in carrots or germination of seeds.

I am always being drawn to interesting Youtube videos and I often see surprising, some might say "crazy" demonstrations of Biology which I think could make an interesting topic for an IA. This page attempts to collate these ideas for investigations in the hope that it will help teachers and students to try something original and innovative, rather than germination experiments.

To develop any one of these ideas into an IA students will have to research the topic, decide on their own focused research question and then plan their own method. This ideas might help to get everyone started.

What is the minimum voltage which will repel the snails?

Matt from DIY Perks says, "No snails were harmed while making this video, as I like snails. This method is way more humane than using poisons or traps, as they don't get harmed in the slightest. Enjoy the video everyone!"

This ingenious DIY video shows how using a 9volt battery and some copper tape can prevent tomatoes from being eaten by snails. It's like the principal of an electric fence in a farm, only this fence is designed to keep snails out.  I wonder if the snails are really sensitive to electricity, and would a 1.5 volt battery be just as effective and less dangerous for the snails?
It also occurs to me that if you used copper tape and zinc tape it would create a potential difference in the snail's slime, like copper and zinc metal does in a lemon battery. Would this be enough to repel the snails?

Electrical impulses in plants

Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes sophisticated equipment used to study the brain out of graduate-level labs and brings them to middle- and high-school classrooms. Watch what happens when he connects the Mimosa pudica and a Venus flytrap to an EKG to show their electrical signals.

If a Venus fly and a mimosa trap produces a measurable electrical impulse this suggests that there may be other plants which can do the same thing.  Could this make an IA experiment?  There is some affordable equipment and a whole host of experiment ideas on Greg's website Backyard Brains

What effect does communication between trees have on their growth?

Trees talking to each other has become accepted knowledge but what do trees talk about? In the Douglas fir forests of Canada, this National Geographic explainer shows how trees “talk” to each other by forming underground symbiotic relationships—called mycorrhizae—with fungi to relay stress signals and share resources with one another.

This might be impossible to measure with any precision, but it has been shown that 'mother trees' or 'node' trees send sugars to their own offspring more than to other saplings.  Does this affect the growth of connected trees. Do isolated trees show different characteristics, or do they grow more slowly.  Could a study of trees on a hillside show a difference between isolated trees and trees in groups?

Investigating the conditions which result in the best growth of garlic roots or shoots

This nice video from a channel called Home and Garden in Vietnam shows how to grow roots and shoots from whole garlic bulbs. Because each bulb produces many roots in just a few days, biology teachers sometimes use these for experiments to see the cells of roots dividing by mitosis. The same method could also be used to investigate the conditions which lead to the most growth, be it temperature, light intensity, colour, or substances dissolved in the water, which may inhibit growth, or promote growth.  It may even be interesting to use this setup to see whether the growth of garlic has any anti microbial properties.

If garlic doesn't take your fancy, Home and Garden has lots of other practical and simple ideas for growing plants, seeds and more. Take a look at their channel here.

Does banana peel have properties which repel insects, fertilize plants or trap mosquitoes?

This is a surprising film which suggests three different ways to use waste banana peels. Any one of these ideas could be adapted into a Biology IA experiment. Simply by setting up a controlled experiment next to a treatment and measuring the results several research questions can be answered.

Does the Miyawaki method lead to accellerated regeneration and huge biodiversity?

The Miyawaki method of growing small forests is spreading around the world, and many urban groups are using this method to plant trees in small urban locations, next to roads, in built up areas.  There are many videos showing projects in countries around the world and some make extraordinary claims; the trees absorb ten times more carbon dioxide, they grow faster than trees planted in traditional methods. enriching the soil with biomass helps the growth, the temperature in a forest is up to three degrees cooler, they grow thirty times more densely than traditional forest and contain a hundred times more biodiversity.
There are many timelapse videos of planted forests on youtube which could possible be used for data collection. Students may be lucky enough to live need some growing plantations and be able to visit them with consent of the owners. So much potential for an IA. There is an interesting introduction on Medium and not everyone agrees, as can be seen in this article in the Indian Economic Times

VKTRY Sports insoles for increased performance. Do they really work?

This video shows some athletes testing a special sports insole. This could easily form the basis of a Biology IA. It would be important to explain how the insole works, and to link this to biology, the muscles of the leg and foot as much as the properties of the insole.  The video shows six performance tests, and an adaptation of one of these test could make an IA. It would need some consideration of controlled variables.

Is there a correlation between suppleness or strength of plant stems and trampling effects?

It's always good to find out the reason why something happens in an experiment.  To confirm an observation with some random sampling is worthwhile but it always leaves me wondering why?  I there is a path through a patch of plants growing in the school grounds or some rainforest near to school, this could be a neat IA.

This video shows a simple method of random sampling to estimate the density of a species in two areas. This technique could identify species which are absent in areas which are trampled close to the path.  If the suppleness of the leaves or stems of these species is measured and compared to species which a more tolerant of trampling a correlation could be seen between suppleness and tolerance of trampling.

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.