Choosing a Topic

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Choosing a Topic

Postby singhalm10 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:54 pm

Hi,
I'm currently researching what I should do for science fair this year. I'm really interested in Alternative Energy and Biochemistry, and I've narrowed down my choices to a few:

    Microbial Fuel Cells-making them much smaller, but still efficient
    Bioplastics- from fruit and vegetable wastes
    The production of graphene through electrogenic bacteria

I would appreciate any input as to the do-ability of these topics. I may have access to a lab, but I'm not 100% sure how to approach a possible scientist to able to conduct my experiment in their lab.
singhalm10
 
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Project Question: Microbial Fuel Cells
Project Due Date: Spring 2014
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Choosing a Topic

Postby SciB » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:41 am

Hi Singhalm,

You have listed three very good areas for a science project. They are all quite challenging and you can pick any of them and succeed in creating a winning project. My advice would be to choose the one that interests you the most and do some reading online to see what other researchers are doing in the field. You can see what questions they are asking and what experiments they do to get answers. From that information, you can decide what hypothesis you want to work on.

What you can do depends on your time and resources. When you have narrowed down your choices, you can repost your ideas and we will help you in planning a workable, interesting project.

Best wishes,

SciB
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Re: Choosing a Topic

Postby singhalm10 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:06 am

Hello SciB,

I was looking at articles on Google Scholar and grew very interested in the production of bioplastics from algae. I found these publications:
There aren't very many articles on Google Scholar explaining the experiments scientists are conducting in detail, but I think I understand the basic procedure. Producing the final plastic itself would require giant facilities, so for my project I would just be producing the chemicals required to make the plastic, specifically Polylactic Acid. Here are a few ideas for a hypothesis (I would b following something close to the third link):
    Which species of algae (out of a chosen few) produces the most polylactic acid
    What is the best temperature/time allowed for fermentation/bacteria used for ferementation, etc. that gives the most effective outcome
Thanks,
singhalm10
singhalm10
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:37 am
Occupation: Student, 8th Grade
Project Question: Microbial Fuel Cells
Project Due Date: Spring 2014
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Choosing a Topic

Postby SciB » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:56 am

Hi Singhal,

I think you have a really cool and up to the minute project--making bioplastic! I have been seeing a lot lately about algae as a source for biofuels, for removal of water contaminants and even as a way to soak up excess carbon dioxide from the air.

There are a lot of different algae species--some easy to grow like Chlorella and some that will even grow in salt water like Dunaliella salina. I have no idea about their ability to produce poly lactide, so you will have to do some reading of the literature to pick a species or a group of species.

I know you said it would take specialized equipment to produce plastic from algae, but i wonder if a crude form could be produced with relatively simple, safe and inexpensive apparatus and chemicals. It would be great if you could show a little piece of plastic made form your algae.

Keep us posted as you formulate your ideas and hypothesis and i will be happy to help you with experimental details.

Best wishes,

SciB
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