The EE Under COVID-19 Rules

Well, 2020 has certainly been a year like no other.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

Our students were in the throes of researching and writing their EE’s when we were faced with school closure at the end of March / beginning of April. Singapore went into a nationwide partial lockdown — or circuit breaker — just after half term break. All lessons were to be conducted remotely or online. This could have been a problem for those students who needed to use a science lab or collect data, but luckily, we quickly went into solution mode.

Most of our students who were planning a primary research EE were offered the option of switching to a World Studies EE (WSEE) or using secondary research. Since we don’t have many examples of successful secondary research EE’s, our students opted for a World Studies approach. To be honest, I think the WSEE has been a sigh of relief for some of our students. Many of them were excited to conduct lab-based research, but with that comes the pressures of the lab: what if the experiment doesn’t work? what if the materials are insufficient? what if more time is needed? Writing a WSEE alleviated these potential issues as students instead used resources such as self-generated survey data, reports of experiments, interviews, film, works of art, etc. As long as their resources provided sufficient evidence to help develop and support their arguments, then students could easily write their WSEE’s from the comfort of their own homes.

At UWCSEA, students who opted for a WSEE combined diverse subject areas such as Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) & Economics; Geography & Biology; Maths & Psychology; Design Technology & Physics; and Chemistry & Economics, just to name a few.

“Under Covid-19, it wasn’t possible to find something practical [to research] so my best idea was to do something theoretical. This meant I had to make sure it was applicable within the real world and had a local manifestation.”

Grade 12 student, initially set to write a Physics EE, who later decided on a WSEE during Singapore’s circuit breaker.

Currently, Singapore is still under Phase 2, with an eventual move to Phase 3 on 28 December 2020. In compliance with Phase 2 rules, we introduced the Extended Essay to our Grade 11’s this year via video. These were pre-recorded and included all the information needed for the Class of 2022 to start thinking about their EE’s. Students watched the videos during their morning Mentor block, and their Mentors forwarded any student questions to me. All they need to do now is determine their top three subject choices (including at least one World Studies option) and submit them to me by 13 January 2021.

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has had a significant global impact on our day-to-day well-being; it has affected the way we work, the way we learn, the way we teach, and most importantly, the way we live. I don’t want to call what we are currently doing “the new normal,” but seeing the resiliency in our students makes me incredibly proud. This past year hasn’t been easy, and indeed, some have struggled more than others, but I’m happy to see that our students have “[embraced the] challenge [of Covid-19] in order to maximise their potential” as lifelong learners (“Guiding Statements”).

I look forward to seeing what our current Grade 11’s will achieve with their Extended Essays over the course of the new year.

Works Cited

“Guiding Statements.” UWCSEA | International School in Singapore, Accessed 23 Dec. 2020.