Aircraft - Exploration marks

Investigating an Aircrafts useful load.

Mark    SL:11/20    HL: 9/20

The difference between the marks below and the 'Project' marks can be explained, and relatively easily improved, by addressing the points mentioned in the 'Writing a Studies style project with the Exploration criteria, and new SL syllabus, in mind . . .' section of the previous page.

View the full studies project + marks:  Aircraft.   View the Exploration marks (pdf format):  Aircrafts Useful Load

The marks explained

Background information

Background information should include:

Which syllabus items/units had been covered in class prior to the students writing their explorations?

What access to technology and mathematics/science software do the students have?

Other comments can be included, if the teacher thinks they will be helpful for the moderator.

However, as stated in the guide’s internal assessment section, criterion C: “assesses the extent to which the student engages with the topic by exploring the mathematics and making it their own. It is not a measure of effort”.






Presentation (4)


The aim is clearly set out in the introduction and provides the focus for the work that follows in the body of exploration and is referred to in the conclusion. However, the link between the box and whisker diagrams and calculations, the aims and introduction and the scatter graphs is not made very clear, the only explanation being: “ I want to understand the overall spread of the data I have

collected.” and “ This means that in my data you would find some aircraft that show extremes, for example the Russian built AN-225 cargo plane would be at the extreme ends of the wingspan, range and useful load data” (p.6).

Moreover, the box and whisker diagrams are unnecessarily spread over two pages (the spaces could/should have been edited out) and the scatter graphs and interpretations could have been edited down to be more concise. This is a borderline case, but ‘some’ organization and coherence seems a better fit overall than ‘well-organised and coherent’.


Mathematical Communication (4)


Unnecessary and inappropriate y-axes and scale on the box and whisker diagrams with no units on the axes.

No use of “approximately equal to” notation nor consideration of what might be an “appropriate degree of accuracy” (TSM ‘Skills and Strategies’ section in the ‘internal assessment’ chapter) for the mathematical calculations presented: mean, standard deviation, quartiles etc. for the box and whisker diagrams and R² values on the scatter graphs. ‘R’ used instead of the conventional lower case ‘r’ for pearson’s correlation coefficient.

“Some” rather than “mostly” is a ‘best fit’ description of this exploration.


Personal Engagement (3)


The student has collected their own data on a topic that is of a clear personal interest to them (as evidenced in their introduction and the interpretations ‘in context’ of their graphical results).  They have “explored the topic from different perspectives” (wingspan, capacity, speed etc.) and “made and tested their predictions/hypothesis” (see the criteria additional notes) in a way that “helps the reader to better understand the writer’s intentions”.





Due to ‘linking to the aims of the exploration’ and ‘commenting on what they have learned’ at different points within the exploration, there is just sufficient evidence to make ‘meaningful’ rather than ‘limited’ a better fit description of the work presented. This, despite failings such as r and R² being calculated but no reference made to their values in the interpretation of the scatter graphs.


Use of Mathematics



There isn’t evidence for a ‘good understanding and knowledge’ since there is no attempt to find a function (least squares regression, modelling using functions) to fit the data, which is clearly non-linear, or at least piecewise linear (rather than one single, linear relationship, as drawn by the student over the data). The reader has to imply, as no explanation is offered, that R is the correlation coefficient for the model, rather than pearson’s correlation coefficient (using both x & y data), given the capital R notation, rather than ‘r’.

R and R² values are calculated for each scatter plot, but no reference is made to their values nor how they were calculated. All the above suggests a lack of understanding of R and R² (rather than a reflection issue, hence penalised here, in criterion E).

Three out of the four boxplots are not commented on.


Use of Mathematics



‘some’ relevant mathematics and ‘limited’ understanding, but not commensurate with HL course.

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