At Silicon Valley International School (INTL), high school students cultivate exceptional research and writing abilities that equip them to excel in their academic pursuits at the college level. This is achieved through the Extended Essay, a keystone element of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme Core. The Extended Essay is an in-depth research project that allows students to delve into a topic of personal interest, cultivating a deep understanding and expertise in their chosen subject area. The Extended Essay promotes critical thinking, independent research skills, and effective communication as students navigate the research process, analyze sources, and present their findings in a structured and coherent manner. The 4000-word essay that INTL high school students produce is their first introduction to college-level research and writing.
Throughout a journey which lasts for six months, INTL students identify a research question, conduct primary and secondary research into their chosen topic and write both a draft and final version of their essay. Students are assigned a subject-specific supervisor who oversees their process and provides guidance along the way. Students are also required to reflect on their planning and progress at three critical junctures. The final reflection session with the supervisor is a viva-voce which is an opportunity for students to defend their research thesis orally.
This year, students completed Extended Essays in a wide variety of subjects: English Language and Literature, History, Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), Physics, and World Studies: Health and Development. World Studies Extended Essays are interdisciplinary and are focused on one of six themes.
Below are some examples of the self-formulated questions that INTL students addressed in their Extended Essays:
English Language and Literature
- How and why do the creators of Coraline subvert the tropes within classical storytelling?
- How does the use of appeals to pathos to support their agendas differ between two US Republican Presidential candidates of the 21st century in their first debate for their second term?
- To what extent was the outcome of the Trial of Bordeaux of 1953 justified for the Malgré-Nous involved?
- To what extent did the Indian annexation of Goa from the Portuguese in 1961 change the longstanding colonial socio-cultural climate of Goa?
- To what extent did the September 11th, 2001 attacks impact US domestic and foreign policies up to the end of the Bush Administration in 2009?
- To what extent was gender the most significant cultural cause for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692?
- To what extent should online communities moderate their content and interactions between users?
- How do the discrepancies between the predicted and observed orbital velocities, as functions of radius for the rotation of galaxy NGC 3198, provide evidence for the existence of dark matter?
- To what extent does psychiatric stress exacerbate and cause skin diseases as compared to other factors of causation?
The Extended Essay encourages students to develop important skills such as time management, organization, and academic writing, which are essential for success in higher education. Furthermore, the extended essay fosters a sense of intellectual curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning. Through this rigorous and rewarding endeavor, students gain valuable insights into their chosen subject and develop the intellectual and academic skills necessary for future academic pursuits.