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Others Like “Skiing and Friction”

Project Idea
You can model this with an ice cube sliding down a plank: how high do you need to lift the end of the plank before the ice cube starts to slide? Try this with one side plain wood and the flip side waxed wood (use paraffin wax, candle wax or ski wax). Make sure both sides are equally smooth to start with. Do at least three trials. More advanced: using what you know about the forces acting on the ice cube, derive equations to calculate the coefficient of friction for each case. Variation:… Read more
Sports_p042
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
If you have a multi-speed bike, you know that you can make it easier or harder to pedal just by shifting gears. Ever wonder how that works? You can investigate this a number of ways. A basic approach is to use a selection of spools of thread (with different diameters), a board with two nails, and a rubber band. Place a spool over each nail, and put the rubber band over them. Mark the 12:00 position on each spool so that you can count revolutions. Turn one spool through a full circle and… Read more
Sports_p025
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Project Idea
We've all heard that "practice makes perfect," but what is the best way to practice? For example, does "mental practice" do any good? You'll need at least 9 volunteers for this project. Pick a well-defined sports activity, with a measurable outcome, such as shooting basketball free-throws (measure number of shots taken and number of shots made), or balancing on one foot on a slightly raised beam (measure how long you can do it; if it's too easy, try closing your eyes). Test all volunteers… Read more
HumBeh_p037
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Project Idea
For example, think of hitting a baseball, heading a soccer ball into the net, or hitting a tennis ball with a racquet. Where the ball goes depends on...what? You can set up a simple model to start your investigation. You'll need a marble, a flat piece of wood, a flat piece of cardboard, a pencil, a ruler, a protractor, and a level surface. Lay down the cardboard down on a level surface and set up the flat piece of wood at one edge. The wood will act like a wall, and you're going to roll… Read more
Phys_p039
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Think of hitting a baseball, heading a soccer ball into the net, or hitting a tennis ball with a racquet. Where the ball goes depends on...what? You can set up a simple model to start your investigation. You'll need a marble, a flat piece of wood, a flat piece of cardboard, a pencil, a ruler, a protractor, and a level surface. Lay down the cardboard down on a level surface and set up the flat piece of wood at one edge. The wood will act like a wall, and you're going to roll the marble at… Read more
Sports_p040
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Project Idea
How high can you throw different types of balls, like a golf ball, a basketball, and a football? Would one of them go higher than the others? Do factors like mass, shape, and volume influence the final height? You can measure the approximate maximum height a thrown ball reaches by measuring the time it spends in the air. To do this project, you'll need at least one ball and a helper with a stopwatch. Your helper should start timing just as you release the ball, and stop right when the ball… Read more
Sports_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Does the force of drag have an effect on the distance the puck will travel? Think of a way to launch the puck with a reproducible force, and examine the effect of launching the puck in different orientations on the distance it travels. For more information on the physics, see Haché, 2002. Read more
Aero_p025
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
There are many types of construction materials used for wood-frame houses. Compare the different uses for and strengths of different building materials, e.g.: particle board, plywood, pine, oriented strand board (OSB), and drywall (gypsum board, SheetRock). The Science Buddies Materials Science Resource Stress, Strength and Strain will be helpful for learning about different ways to measure material strength. You should be sure to use the same cross-sectional area of each material in order… Read more
CE_p020
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate… Read more
HumBio_p005
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
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… Read more
MatlSci_p031
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
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