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,…
Have you ever heard someone say that the moon is made of cheese? Even though the craters on the surface of the moon resemble holes in Swiss cheese, we know that this common myth is not true. Find out how craters are formed and why they are different sizes by doing this simple science project.
You can measure the diameter of the Sun (and Moon) with a pinhole and a ruler! All you need to know is some simple geometry and the average distance between the Earth and Sun (or Moon). An easy way to make a pinhole is to cut a square hole (2-3 cm across) in the center of a piece of cardboard. Carefully tape a piece of aluminum foil flat over the hole. Use a sharp pin or needle to poke a tiny hole in the center of the foil. Use the pinhole to project an image of the Sun onto a wall or piece…
Use your Internet sleuthing skills to learn about solar system objects. Create a table of measurements of moons and asteroids in order to determine if there is a size threshold for roundness. A good source of information would be an online guide such as (Arnett, W.A., 2006). You'll find information about planetary satellites, including dimensions and accompanying pictures. From the pictures, classify the satellites and asteroids according to how round they are. Can you think of a way to…
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…
Have you ever wanted to analyze data from a NASA spacecraft? In this science project you will use data from NASA's MESSENGER mission to measure the diameter and calculate the depth of impact craters on Mercury. You will then analyze that data for relationships between a crater's depth and diameter. This is your chance to
perform a science project as a NASA researcher would!
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Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Geometry: familiarity using sine, cosine, and tangent to solve right triangles
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…
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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