Using just a single sheet of paper (8.5 x 11 inches) and up to five paper clips, can you build a bridge that will span 20 cm and support the weight of 100 pennies? The area beneath the span must be free (so that boats can pass beneath it). To test your bridge, place two books 20 cm apart, and set the bridge on the books, spanning the gap. Do not fasten the bridge to the book (nor to any other support). Does your bridge hold as much weight as you expected it would? If your bridge fails…
Here's a fun project idea to learn about compression forces. For this experiment you'll need some empty toilet paper tubes, masking tape, sand (or table salt), pebbles (or marbles), a funnel, a cardboard box, and a sturdy chair to help you balance while testing the column. Seal one end of the tube with masking tape. Use the funnel to fill the tube with sand (or salt). Seal the other end with tape. Place the tube on end inside the paper box. Place the chair with its back to the box and hold…
Predict how tall you can build a tower using only two sheets of newspaper as building material. You can't use tape, glue, staples, or anything else, just two sheets of newspaper. You can tear, bend, cut, or fold the newspaper. Try it out and see how close you can come to your prediction. Can you beat your prediction? As you're building, you may come up with ideas to make a better tower. Try them out! (It's not like the materials are expensive!) Here are some variations you might want to…
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
Maybe somewhere in your home there's a long hallway or a stairway with a light that you can turn on from either end. It's a nice convenience, but did you ever wonder how it's wired up to work that way? The goal of this project is to build a similar circuit with switches, flashlight batteries and a flashlight bulb (obviously, household circuits are not safe to experiment with). You'll need to understand the difference between connections made in series and connections made in parallel in an…
Skyscrapers are impressive structures. What does it take to design a building so tall? Engineers use strong materials and innovative design to push the limits of gravity. In this experiment you will use LEGO® components, rubber balls, and a 3-ring binder.
Suspension bridges, with their tall towers, long spans, and gracefully curving cables, are beautiful examples of the work of civil engineers. How do the cables and towers carry the load that is on the bridge? Can a suspension bridge carry a greater load than a simple beam bridge? This science project shows you how to find out.
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 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 to make fair comparisons.…
Make your own fertile soil using kitchen scraps, manure, leaves, grass clippings, and other compostable materials. Which materials make the best compost? How does the amount of nitrogen change the rate at which the compost forms? How does traditional composting compare to worm composting, or vermiculture? How does the temperature of the compost pile change?
Alternative energy sources are a big deal these days. One such source is the wind. Find out how a wind turbine can use the power of the wind to generate energy in this science fair engineering project. You'll design various blades to find out which produces the most energy, and put the wind to work for you!
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Short (2-5 days)
Very Low (under $20)
Use caution when using the drill. Always wear safety goggles when working with power tools. Adult supervision is recommended.
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