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Others Like “Forensic Science: Building Your Own Tool for Identifying DNA”

Project Idea
thumbnail Imagine that you want to create your own brand of colored candies. You know they would be a success if only you could figure out how to make a certain color, such as purple. How can you do this when government regulators have approved just a few food dyes? First, you will need to find out how your competitors make all of their colors from these few dyes. Do different candy brands use the same or different dyes? This can be figured out with gel electrophoresis, a technique commonly used in… Read more
BioChem_p039
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires a Bio-Rad kit. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Use caution when heating the agarose. Never connect more than five 9-volt (V) batteries together for this project.
Project Idea
thumbnail Native plants are important for both ecological and medicinal reasons. However, most native plants are not very well studied. One way to know more about these plants is to understand which other species of plants they are most closely related to. In this science project you will sequence part of the chloroplast genome from a native plant and use this information to determine its evolutionary relationship to other species of plants. If the plant you chose has not been sequenced before, you can… Read more
Genom_p012
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites High school biology class; familiarity with using the PCR machine and gel electrophoresis equipment, and/or using the equipment with a mentor.
Material Availability You will need specialized pieces of equipment, including a PCR machine (thermocycler) and a gel electrophoresis apparatus. If your school does not have this equipment you might want to seek out a mentor at a junior college, university, or biotechnology company. If you have the resources you can do the DNA sequencing yourself, otherwise you can send the samples to Dr. Baysdorfer at California State University, East Bay, see Experimental Procedure for more details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety This project uses ethidium bromide, which is a carcinogen. Always wear gloves and safety goggles when handling. Dispose of the ethidium bromide according to your school or institute's hazardous waste protocols. If you have concerns, ask your teacher or mentor for advice.
Project Idea
thumbnail Do you like reading detective stories or watching crime shows on TV? This advanced project idea in the area of forensic science might be right for you. Read more
BioChem_p009
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites High School Biology
Material Availability This project requires you to order specialty items and have access to some laboratory equipment, see the Materials & Equipment section for more details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Do you read the list of ingredients in foods and drinks before you buy them at the grocery store? If you do, you may have noticed that many of the items that are blue in color have the same dye, called FD&C blue 1. In this chemistry science fair project, you will build a simple colorimeter, a device that measures the concentration of colored chemicals in solutions. You will use the colorimeter to measure the concentration of blue dye #1 in sports drinks, and to track the rate at which the… Read more
Chem_p075
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Basic knowledge of chemistry. Some familiarity with electronics would be helpful, but is not required.
Material Availability Specialty item: Cuvettes can be purchased online. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Working with bleach is hazardous. Protect your skin and eyes.
Project Idea
thumbnail We encounter an amazing array of colors every day, from the greens of plants and the many colors of their flowers, to the pinkish blue of a sunset, to the artificial coloring in beverages. How do we perceive all of these colors? When light hits an object, some of that light is absorbed by the object, and the light that is not absorbed is what we see. In this science project, you will build a simple spectrophotometer from a cell phone and use it to investigate how visible light is absorbed by… Read more
Chem_p100
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need to special-order some items. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. A cell phone with a functional camera is required. A computer that can run Windows® software is required.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Solar cells are popping up on rooftops everywhere these days and are a model for clean, renewable energy. Did you ever look at those solar panels and wonder how we can get electricity produced by solar cells when the sun is not shining? It is a great question because solar panels do not produce electricity when it is dark outside. One strategy to overcome this challenge is to store the energy produced by solar cells during the day in the form of a fuel that can be used at a later time. In… Read more
Chem_p099
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Completion of a basic chemistry class is recommended before trying this science project. You should also know something about circuits, or use the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ElectronicsPrimerIntroduction" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Science Buddies Electronics Primer" #].
Material Availability A number of specialty items are required. For your convenience, a Science Buddies Kit is available for purchase.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision is recommended. Use caution when connecting the four 9V batteries. Ensure that the wires/connectors do not come in contact with each other to cause a short or the batteries will become VERY hot and can possibly cause burns. Cobalt nitrate can cause skin and eye irritation. It is recommended to wear disposable gloves when handling cobalt nitrate.
Project Idea
thumbnail Imagine telling your friends about your latest science project: using a battery to make a light turn on. You might get some blank stares...sounds a little boring and basic, right? Now tell them you will do it with a potato! Yes, you can actually turn fruits and vegetables into electric power sources! Batteries power many things around you, including cell phones, wireless video game controllers, and smoke detectors. In this science project, you will learn about the basics of battery science and… Read more
Energy_p010
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires specialty electronics items. A Science Buddies kit is available. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Do not eat the potatoes after they have been used as batteries.
Project Idea
thumbnail DNA is what makes you look like you. It contains your body's instructions for your hair and eye color, ear shape, your height, and much, much more. Do other living things also have DNA or is DNA only found in humans? You can answer that question yourself (and have your first look at your own DNA) by doing this project. Read more
BioChem_p042
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability A DNA extraction kit, listed in the Materials tab, is used for this project.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Adult help is needed to cut a strawberry. The DNA extraction buffer is harmless if you touch it, but do not taste or swallow it.
Project Idea
The DNA in our cells contains our "blueprints," but it's the proteins in our cells that do most of the work. The Human Genome Project has allowed us to start reading the blueprints, but we still don't understand what most of the proteins do. This is a fairly advanced project that explores ways of identifying the function of unknown proteins. Read more
Genom_p002
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites High School Biology, excellent computer skills
Material Availability None required
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Electronic devices can be designed to detect dangerous fumes or other hazards, such as smoke or carbon monoxide. In this electronics project, you will build another potentially life-saving detector—a radon detector. Radon gas is radioactive and can pose a hazard to your health if you live in an area where it leaks from the ground. In this electronics science project, you will learn how to collect radon with an ordinary dusting cloth mounted on the intake of a fan, and then measure its… Read more
Elec_p064
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Since the goal of this science project is to measure radon gas, you should have access to an area that has previously tested positive for radon with a commercial radon detection system. See the Experimental Procedure section for details. This is an advanced science project that will require creative problem solving on your part.
Material Availability While most of the parts for this science project are readily available, you might need to be creative about finding or making some of the parts.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Wear safety goggles when drilling and soldering. Adult supervision is recommended.
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