Make a pinhole projector (see ). Use the pinhole to project an image of the Sun onto a wall or a piece of paper. Do you notice any dark spots on the projected image? Trace the projected image and count the dark spots. Use your pinhole projector to make images of the Sun at the same time of day for several consecutive days. How does the pattern of spots change? Can you use your data to figure out how fast the Sun rotates? Sunspot activity rises and falls with an 11-year cycle. At this…
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…
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Long (2-4 weeks)
You will need to purchase syringes to build the model crane.
Low ($20 - $50)
Be sure to wear safety goggles when using tools like saws and drills. Minor injury is possible. Adult supervision is required.
Try different wind turbine/propeller (chord length, pitch) designs by making models from balsa wood. Connect the spinning axle to a DC motor and measure the voltage produced across a resistor to measure power output. Use fan as wind source. (Judge, 2004)
Fill a jar a little more than half full with fresh water. Make a solution of salt water, and add a drop or two of food coloring to it. Pour the salt water solution into a plastic cup with a small hole in the bottom, and then place the cup in the jar with fresh water. (The only connection between the fresh and salt water should be via the hole in the bottom of the cup.) With the right combination of hole size and salt concentration, you will see an oscillating current develop in the jar. …
What causes the most stress for teenagers? Is it school? family relationships? peer pressure? worries about the future? Design a survey to find out what contributes to teens' stress levels. Possible variations include: How do teenagers deal with stress? Are today's teens more or less stressed than their parents were as teenagers? Were the sources of stress the same for your parent's generation or different? (Idea from De Biasi, 2003)
Here's a project idea for all of you bakers out there. What happens if you try your favorite muffin recipe with different types of flour (e.g., white, whole wheat, rye, soy, etc.)? Think of ways you can measure the results. How would you measure the density of a muffin? A kitchen scale would definitely be useful for this project, both for measuring the results and for portioning out the batter for equal-sized muffins. What other measures might be of interest? (Nakajima, 2005)
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…
If you like to fish and you'd rather not be telling the story of "the one that got away," then this is a project for you. What combination of properties makes for the best fishing line? Here are some suggestions for getting started on your background research into fishing line properties: knot strength, abrasion strength, shock strength, tensile strength, limpness, controlled stretch, and desired range of visibility (Dodson, 2006). Choose the properties that you think are most important, and…
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…
We can't say it any better than he did, so here is Ryan Ponec's capsule description of his excellent project (Ponec, 2002): "At the end of a lesson, a teacher will sometimes have students summarize the information presented by stating, 'Tell me something you learned.' The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether or not this 'lesson summary' significantly enhances the students' ability to later recall the information presented. Students from grade levels fifth through eighth were…
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