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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…
Let's suppose you can take advantage of the Internet and get a 'pen pal' located a 1000 miles away in another city. On the same night, and at EXACTLY the same time 'Universal Time', make a CAREFUL observation of where the Moon is located with respect to the background stars. You should be able to discern a slight (about 1/2 the Moon's diameter) shift in position due to parallax. Then, with a little geometry, you could estimate the distance of the Moon during the full lunar cycle (Odenwald,…
If you sit under a leafy tree on a sunny day, you may notice spots of sunlight on the ground from light passing through spaces between the leaves. Try putting a piece of cardboard on the ground and examining the spots of light on the cardboard. Even though the spaces through which the light is passing are irregular in shape, the spots on the cardboard are round. What you are seeing, in fact, are projected images of the sun. Light passing through an aperture forms an image. A pinhole camera…
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Average (6-10 days)
Must have digital camera capable of taking long, controlled exposures without flash.
Pinhole cameras are not just for grannies! Even compared to all of the latest technology, a pinhole camera still gets beautiful results. Find out how this very simple aperture design works to control the way light enters the lens of your camera.
Some claim the Moon appears larger when near the horizon. Make a series of observations of the Moon, measuring the Moon's angular diameter each time. You should also note the Moon's altitude above the horizon, and the Moon's phase. You should do background research on the lunar orbit to determine the necessary time period. Do you find predictable variations in the Moon's diameter? Can you relate this to the Moon's changing distance from Earth? From your data, try to determine when apogee and…
You might know that we are able to get free energy from the Sun, the wind, and water, but did you know we can get free energy from Earth itself? The temperature inside of Earth can reach 9,000°F—that kind of heat can be used to make a lot of energy here on the surface! This source of energy is called geothermal energy and it is all about taking advantage of the heat within Earth. So try this science fair project out and find out how to use the heat that lies beneath your feet!
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Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Low ($20 - $50)
You will be working with a hot stove top. Please exercise caution when working with hot surfaces and with steam. Steam can cause painful burns.
You can make a very simple hovercraft with a stiff, disposable plate-a pie plate should work well-and a balloon. Glue a square of cardboard in the center of the bottom of the plate. Make a small hole through the center of both of these layers. Enlarge the hole slightly with a pencil. Push a balloon through the hole so that the opening is on the front side of the plate, and rest of the balloon sticks out from the back. Blow up the balloon, then set the plate down (balloon side up). What…
Get good photographs of the Moon showing lots of craters and count how many craters you find in a range of diameter classes. One useful source is the (Kuiper et al, 2006). Make a histogram that shows the distribution of diameters. Most of these craters were formed during the first billion years of the Moon's formation, but you should confirm that this is true for the the Moon areas you've selected in your photographs by doing background research. Is cratering uniform across the surface of the…
How strongly do different types of nails hold in wood? Try different diameters of nails, and try pounding them to different depths. To gauge the holding strength, measure how difficult it is to remove the nail. Can you pull it out with a pair of pliers? Can you remove it with the hammer claw? Do you have to push only a little bit, moderately hard, or as hard as you can? Do you need a crowbar? What happens if you pre-drill holes for the nails, using drill bits that are different…
How much force is required to advance a lag bolt (large wood screw with a hex-shaped head) into a piece of wood? You can measure the force by using a spring scale attached to the handle of ratchet. Pull on the spring scale until the bolt starts to turn, and note the required force from the spring scale. There are many potential experiments you could try. Think about answering the following questions: How does the force change as the bolt advances deeper into the wood? Why? How does the…
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