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Physics Project Ideas

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Ever wonder why it is harder to keep your balance with a heavy backpack on? Or why it is difficult to make a toddler's sippy cup tip over? Maybe you are the kind of person who wonders about circus balancing acts and would like to learn how to ride a bike on a rope. Or perhaps you want to know how to make your toy car less prone to toppling over when racing through a sharp curve. In this science project you can learn about balance using marshmallows, skewers, and toothpicks. Sticky, yummy… Read more
Phys_p084
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Did you know that you can lift an object that's heavier than you are? Just use a lever! In this science project you'll build a tabletop lever and measure how much effort it takes to lift an object using it. Read more
Phys_p065
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail What do sand, Skittles, and cereal have in common? They are all granular materials, which means they are made up of solid particles, but they can actually flow like liquid! Imagine pouring the sand out of a bucket or pouring the cereal out of a box— a lot like pouring water, right? In this physics science project, you will investigate how the size of granular materials affect how they flow. Read more
Phys_p091
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Adult assistance is needed with cutting cardboard. If you use material that you plan on eating later, like cereal or candy, be sure to wash your funnel with soap and water before you start the experiment.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Jumping discs can be a fun toy to play with, and with their sudden POP!, they can even be a good way to startle people who have never heard them before. Jumping discs use a neat trick to jump. They are made of two different types of metal, and these metals expand when they heat up (or shrink when they cool down), but not by exactly the same amount. In this science project you will explore how temperature affects the reactions of your jumping discs— and how to get the timing right if you… Read more
Phys_p094
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires buying bimetallic jumping discs. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Adult supervision is required during use of a hair dryer as a heat source. Hair dryers can cause burns or fires if used improperly and should not be operated by small children alone.

Do not use the jumping discs on surfaces that are fragile or can be easily scratched.

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Can you imagine designing and building a space telescope the size of a tennis court? Believe it or not, that is someone's job! Engineers are hard at work on the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST. This telescope has the potential to enable astronomers to see light from when the Universe was first formed. No one knows what amazing discoveries this might lead to. However, to make the telescope work properly, engineers have to overcome a lot of challenges. In this science project, you can… Read more
Phys_p082
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Most of the materials are available in hardware or craft stores.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision is required. Use caution when using the box cutter, heat lamp, and laser pointer.
Science Fair Project Idea
The rebound rating is the ratio of bounce height to drop height. Do background research on the physics of "elastic" and "inelastic" collisions. Lots of possible variations: explore how the rebound rating varies for different balls, different surfaces, different temperatures, punctured vs. not. (See: Gardner, 2000, Chapter 4; or, Goodstein, 1999, pp. 9-12, 21, 28-31.) Read more
Phys_p049
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail What can you do with magnets and ball bearings that makes a lot of noise? Why, build a magnetic rifle, called a Gauss rifle, of course! Now, this rifle is not a weapon, but a way for you to learn a lot more about physics concepts, like momentum. In this physics science project, you will investigate how far a ball bearing launched by a Gauss rifle will fly, depending on how many magnetic acceleration stages are in the rifle and the ball bearing's initial velocity. This science project makes for… Read more
Phys_p081
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items including neodymium magnets and steel ball bearings are needed for this project. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety A Gauss rifle can produce high velocity projectiles. Do not aim the gun at anyone or anything; do not put your hand in front of the projectile. Operate the Gauss rifle safely. Be sure to read the important safety notes at the beginning of the Experimental Procedure before you begin. Scissors or other metal objects may be attracted to the magnets; use caution when using metal objects near the magnets.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered why a water strider can walk on water? Or how detergent can clean your dishes? If you observe carefully, you can find dozens of similarly interesting phenomena that are all linked to the surface tension of water. In this science project, you will investigate the properties of water surface tension. Read more
Phys_p010
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues.
Science Fair Project Idea
What launch angle gives the longest horizontal distance? Make a giant protractor with cardboard to measure angles, or use a video camera to record your throws and analyze the launch angle. Try using your garden hose to see which angle sprays water the farthest. (Idea from Gardner, 2000, pp. 27-30; also see: Wiese, 2002, pp. 22-24.) Read more
Phys_p048
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Physicists sometimes study matter under extreme conditions. For example, think of the emptiness of interstellar space vs. the unimaginable crush of pressure at the center of a neutron star, or an object dipped in liquid nitrogen vs. the tiles on the space shuttle during re-entry. Here's an experiment on permanent magnets in "extreme kitchen" conditions that you can try at home. Read more
Phys_p025
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Adult supervision highly recommended. Use tongs to hold magnets immersed in boiling water, ice, and dry ice. Use proper caution when transfering magnets at extreme temperatures.
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