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Mechanical Engineering Project Ideas

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail A ship is a busy place. When out to sea, naval, research, and fishing vessels pull or push heavy loads, like research equipment and crab pots, into and out of the water. But equipment and pots can weigh hundreds of pounds. So how does a ship's crew lift loads efficiently and accurately? With a hydraulic knuckle crane, of course. But what is hydraulics and why does hydraulics make certain tasks easier? Hydraulics is the study of liquids and their mechanical properties: how they move, resist… Read more
ApMech_p049
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need to purchase syringes to build the model crane.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Be sure to wear safety goggles when using tools like saws and drills. Minor injury is possible. Adult supervision is required.
Science Fair Project Idea
An overnight trip to the beach or a quick two-day vacation can be lots of fun. What do you do to prepare? Pack your clothes, get sunscreen lotion, and borrow a book from the library. But wait! Who is going to feed your dog or cat? It would be irresponsible to let them go hungry. And you can't just leave food out, because it can get stale and start to grow bacteria, which can cause your pet to get sick. Also, it is not a good idea to leave bowls of food out because a pet might overeat, which is… Read more
ApMech_p046
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites You need to have a cooperative pet that you can test your designs on.
Material Availability Depending on your design, you will have to order special parts or visit thrift shops and used-appliance stores to find a VCR. Simpler pet feeders can be made of materials found at home.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety If you are using an old VCR to make your pet feeder, then remember to use safety precautions. The VCR's capacitor, a component that stores energy, can discharge large amounts of electrical charge through you if you are not careful. If you decide to make a simpler pet feeder from plastic parts, you may still need to use tools. Follow all tool safety instructions and wear eye protection. Adult supervision is required.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Strike a key on the piano, and you hear the string vibrating. Just about any object vibrates when it's knocked, but how much and how fast? What properties of the material affect the way it vibrates? This project helps you find out. You'll build a simple light-sensing circuit for measuring the frequency of vibrating springs. Read more
ApMech_p015
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Windows/PC
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Before cannons widely replaced them, siege engines were often used by armies to throw large stones and other projectiles to break down castle walls. One of the most advanced siege engines used in the Middle Ages was the trebuchet, which used a large counterweight to store energy to launch a payload, or projectile. The horizontal distance the payload would travel is called the trebuchet's range. Figure 1, below, shows a modern reconstruction of a trebuchet. The range of a trebuchet has… Read more
ApMech_p013
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Some knowledge of physics will be helpful when doing this project.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision is required when building and operating a trebuchet.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Noise is everywhere. From the clanking of a cowbell to the din of the lunchroom, we are surrounded by noise. Sometimes there's no way to get away from it, but there is a way to deal with it—constrained-layer damping. By simply creating a layered sandwich of somewhat flexible materials, what was once a noisy cowbell can become a "noise blanket." This science fair project shows you how to transform a noisy piece of metal into a sound-muffling constrained-layer damper. You'll record the… Read more
ApMech_p040
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You must have access to a basic PC with a built-in or simple external microphone and sound card (most recent computers include all that is needed), as well as a sound program like AudacityTM.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Use caution when using the tin snips. Adult supervision is recommended.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail The amount of energy produced by most photovoltaic (solar) panels is limited, due to their immobility. However, when photovoltaic panels track the movement of the Sun, their efficiency increases significantly. This can be done with computers and sophisticated electronics, but for rural or wilderness settings, a "low-tech" sun tracker would be beneficial. A solution exists in nature: the sunflower. The challenge in this science fair project is to design and build a device that imitates the… Read more
ApMech_p045
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Experience designing and building mechanical devices is preferred, or at least the willingness to invest many hours designing, testing, and re-designing.
Material Availability You will need a photovoltaic panel, approximately 200 square cm.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
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