Need to be pointed in the right direction please

AFTER you've done your research and concluded your experiments, it is time to prepare for the science fair. Ask specific questions about preparing for a science fair, including how to set up your display board, how to prepare a presentation, etc. (Please post questions about selecting a project or conducting your experiment by posting in the appropriate "area of science" forum.)

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Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby Terri » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:00 pm

Using your website, my daughter is coming up with some great ideas for her science fair project. However, the parameters she's been given are really limiting her and she's getting frustrated because she can't do any of the "cool" experiments. She has to have a control group and experiment group and it must be something she can measure over several days. I think we're close with an experiment making rock candy sugar crystals but we just don't quite have it figured out. Can you please point us in the right direction?
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Re: Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby barretttomlinson » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:58 am

Hi,

Here is a Science Buddies project writeup on growing rock candy:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p005.shtml

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p044.shtml

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4852

As you can see from the last link some people encounter problems growing sugar crystals. Here is a site that describes crystal growing in general, including suggestions on other types of crystals that are easier to grow:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/growingcr ... ystals.htm

I will also mention a terrific book on crystal growing:

Crystals and Crystal Growing, by Alan Holden and collaborators

http://www.amazon.com/Crystals-Crystal- ... 0262580500

Here is a Google book review that will allow you to read a good part of the book. Recipes for 12 easy to grow crystals start on page 108, and information on two general methods of growing crystals begins on page 96 (the first 2 or 3 pages are omitted from the preview):

http://books.google.com/books?id=Sco5b7 ... &q=&f=true


I first encountered this book in high school, and am still fascinated by it. The book was first published in 1960, and has been revised and has a new coauthor now, but the table of contents still looks the same, and has the same chapter page numbers, so it probably has not changed much.

I wish you every success with the project, and remember to have fun with it!!!

Best regards,

Barrett L. Tomlinson
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Re: Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby MelissaB » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:49 am

Just to add to Barrett's advice, if you need a control and an experimental group, you will need one group of crystals grown in 'normal' conditions and one group grown in experimental conditions. Off the top of my head, if you want to make rock candy, some variables you might experiment with are temperature, string type, and concentration of sugar. (Obviously you only want to do one of these--I just wanted to list several examples.)

What are the cool experiments your daughter was interested in? Perhaps we could help make them into experiments that would fit the parameters of her assignment.

Good luck!

PS--My first science experiment was growing various types of crystals. There really wasn't much science involved, but it was a ton of fun!
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Re: Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby Terri » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:53 am

Thank you so much for such a quick and very detailed response. We'll check out the book and appreciate your letting us know that we might encounter problems (we had assumed we would automatically grow crystals!).
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Re: Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby Terri » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:01 am

Lol Melissa! I was thinking the same thing - looks like fun but I'm not sure of the science behind it. She was planning to do 1 jar using sugar and 1 jar using salt (or nothing). Since it has to be looked at and recorded daily we were just planning to photograph it each day and write a comment about what she sees.

The one she thought was most cool was on this website. It's called Mag-nificent Breakfast Cereal and it's an analysis of the amounts of iron in cereal. You use a magnet to "collect" the iron. It's really a one time experiment using many different cereal brands. I'm not sure the teacher will let her do this one since you can't look at changes each day.
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Re: Need to be pointed in the right direction please

Postby Amber_MIT » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:16 am

Just to add to what Melissa and Barrett have already said. We also have a large list of projects that take a short amount of time and only require household/readily available materials: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... arents.php

I'd look at projects with a difficulty level from 1-2 if she is in 1st to 3rd grade, and from level 3-4 if she is in 4th or 5th grade. Although, if she is really interested in a project and the difficulty level is higher than that, and you think she would be able to do it, that's fine too. Our difficulty levels are only a guideline :-). You can read more about the difficulty levels here: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... ulty.shtml

We also have a Topic Selection Wizard that asks your daughter a series of questions about her interests, and then recommends projects based on what she likes, her grade level, and amount of time available: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... gister.php

As for the experiment that was already suggested (this is the one I assume you are looking at on our website?): http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p005.shtml. In this case, the control group would be the one without a seed crystal, and the experimental group would be the one with a seed crystal. She would learn how crystallization occurs and the best methods for creating them.

Also, take a look at our Project Guide which gives step by step instructions on how to do a science fair project: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... ndex.shtml
(Look at the "How to Do a Science Fair Project" section on the left side.)
Stuck? Check out our project guides!
Project Guide: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_guide_index.shtml
Advanced Project Guide: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/competitions_index.shtml

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