How do you feel when you ride your bike into a strong wind? Do your legs feel like lead? How about when the wind is at your back? Does that make you feel ready for the Tour de France? In this science fair project, you will investigate how wind-powered devices, like pinwheels, also react in different ways to the direction of the wind.
What are the best materials to use for blocking out unwanted noise from the environment? You can build a test box (or test frame) around an audio speaker. Use a sound level meter to measure the speaker output. Use different materials to cover the walls of your test box (or frame), and see which materials do the best job at blocking the sound. For a more advanced project, perform your tests using different sound frequencies. Are some materials better at blocking certain frequencies than…
In the U.S., lighting homes and businesses accounts for 22% of all electric power consumption (Raloff, 2006). That's $55 billion worth of electricity, or the output of 100 large power plants (Raloff, 2006). How much energy could be saved by switching home lighting from incandescent to more efficient fluorescent lights? Conduct a survey to find out what types of lighting are used in homes in your area. Come up with an estimate of how many light fixtures are used in an average home, what types…
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
Does adhesive tape hang tight at different temperatures? Measure the adhesive strength of tape at both low and high temperatures. To raise the temperature, we suggest using a blow dryer at both low and high heat settings. To lower the temperature, use an ice pack (try to keep condensation from forming on the tape and confounding the results). For even lower temperatures you could try "dry ice" (frozen carbon dioxide), if available. (Wear heavy gloves when handling dry ice, because it can…
How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
This project can apply to soccer, hockey, baseball and many other sports. What is the effect of stopping the kick/shot/swing at the moment of impact vs. following through? Think of a way to measure the outcome in each case, and explain your results. (idea from Gardner, 2000, 83-85; for more information with regard to specific sports, see: Barr, 1990, 12-14; Gay, 2004, 142-144; Adair, 2002, 30.)
Have you ever set up a line of dominoes and watched them fall? If you wanted to make your line of dominoes fall faster, do you think you should set the dominoes up with more or less space between them? Set your dominoes up in a straight line, using a ruler to keep the spacing between them constant. Try different spacings at 0.5cm increments. Conduct multiple trials at each spacing, and time how long it takes for a fixed total length of dominoes to fall (e.g., a 1.5 or 3.0 meter length of…
Alternative energy sources are a big deal these days. One such source is the wind. Find out how a wind turbine can use the power of the wind to generate energy in this science fair engineering project. You'll design various blades to find out which produces the most energy, and put the wind to work for you!
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Short (2-5 days)
Very Low (under $20)
Use caution when using the drill. Always wear safety goggles when working with power tools. Adult supervision is recommended.
Do you ever go camping with your family and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire? If you want your campfire to burn long into the evening, what is the best wood to use? Do research on the necessary conditions/materials to sustain a fire and on the properties of different types of wood. Which properties do you think will be most important for determining how fast the wood burns? For example, how do you think density would be related to burning rate? Why? Measure the density and…
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