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Physics ee - EXTENDED ESSSAY REPORTS MAY 2003 Physics A...

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EXTENDED ESSSAY REPORTS – MAY 2003 Physics A good number of candidates exhibited great skill, originality and flair in their essay. This report highlights general problems and weaknesses shown by candidates. The range and suitability of the work submitted Investigations covered several domains of physics including mechanics, the most popular (e.g. efficiency of a dynamo, wind energy, motion in fair -ground rides, airplane models in wind tunnels, resonance, catapults, impact of a tennis ball, bungee jumping, thrust of propeller s, potato-guns, figure skating, soap bubbles, car engines and brakes…), sound (sound decay, sound from a sliding object, harmonics in a violin…), electricity (pendulum oscillating in a magnetic field, thin –film solar cell, effect of temperature on resistivity, power line corona, superconductivity…), thermodynamics (Sterling engines, icebergs…), optics (dispersion…) atomic and nuclear physics (efficiency of nuclear reactors, nuclear magnetic resonance, photoelectric effect using a neon bulb in a relaxation circuit…), a strophysics (impact of asteroids, black holes, pulsars…). Other “exotic” topics included nanotechnology, time travel, space engines, plasma physics, superluminal velocity, and photon entanglement. These last topics were either too new or too difficult to b e dealt efficiently within an extended essay. Essays dealing with difficult theoretical topics tended to end up as a collection of paragraphs distilled from the sources. As usual, students attempted to involve their favorite sport as part of the essay. Sa ilboats, mountain bikes, basketball footwear, golf -balls, gymnastics, ski waxing, tennis, squash and table -tennis balls all featured. However, a number of these studies were rather unsuccessful due to the difficulty in performing experimental operations ac curately with typical school equipment. The best essays were generally involving an experimental investigation performed by the candidate or, to a lesser extent, databased topics. However some laboratory based essays did not address a research question; instead, candidates reproduced a standard piece of work in order to validate a well -known relationship. Some essays were far too simplistic an investigation. Other candidates confused fundamental concepts thus seriously weakening the value of their investig ation. A number of essays were original, imaginative and highly focused. However a number of topics were too broad and generated only a very superficial survey. Candidates were unable to define a clearly focused hypothesis and tended to discuss concepts a nd develop arguments that were not relevant. Essays that dealt mostly with print resources were average or worse, mostly poor. A good number of candidates could not carefully choose or critically analyse resources and synthesize their own content.
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