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Others Like “Avoiding Disaster: The Right Bridge Design”

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Build model bridges and then deliberately destroy them? Who'd be crazy enough to try that? Read more
CE_p011
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Most items can be obtained locally but may require visiting multiple stores.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Here's a project for a budding architect or structural engineer. Can you make a strong, lightweight tower using only uncooked spaghetti and white glue? In this project, you'll learn about materials testing and apply what you learn to building and testing structures that are both strong and light. Read more
MatlSci_p009
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible: keep hands and feet clear when testing strength of finished structures.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail This is an interesting project that explores which geometrical shapes make the strongest bridge truss structures. It is a good introduction to the engineering design process. You'll design three different trusses, and use online simulation software to analyze the distribution of load-bearing forces in each design. Then you'll build and test prototypes of each design. Read more
CE_p006
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Excellent computer skills, high school physics course
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Use caution with sharp tools when cutting wooden parts to size. Adult supervision recommended for bridge-testing phase.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail If you love to hit the half pipe with your snowboard or skateboard, then you have tested the strength and durability of laminates. Laminates are sandwiches of different materials that are glued together in layers to give strength and flexibility to an object. In this experiment, you can test if laminating wood can make it stronger and able to support a heavier load. How much weight can it take before it breaks? Read more
MatlSci_p008
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Requires adult supervision with glue and cutting wood.
Science Fair Project Idea
Is an I-beam as strong as a solid beam of the same size? What if you include weight in the comparison: which beam has the greater strength-to-weight ratio? Would an I-beam be stronger than a solid rectangular beam of the same weight? What about other structural shapes (e.g., T-beams, U-beams)? In this project you can find out by setting up a test stand, putting on your safety goggles and measuring how much stress these building components can handle before they snap. Read more
MatlSci_p011
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible: Wear safety glasses when testing beam capacity. Keep hands and feet clear of the area underneath the weight bucket, which may fall at any time.
Science Fair Project Idea
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. Read more
Aero_p030
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Sorry, you don't get to use a jackhammer for this project, but you'll find out another way to break concrete (not to mention what makes it strongest). Read more
CE_p010
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision recommended
Science Fair Project Idea
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… Read more
CE_p018
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Bridges are big and beautiful structures, but they also need to be safe for the people who cross over them every day. Building a bridge that is safe and secure is a challenge to civil engineers. But the job is even more challenging if you live in earthquake country! Find out how engineers are solving this problem as they build a new bridge over the San Francisco Bay in California. Try some of your own Bay Bridge designs. Will your bridge design take the shake of a quake? Read more
CE_p012
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail When you think about robots, chances are they are contraptions that you have seen on TV, in movies, or even in real life — and they are usually made of metal. What if you could make a soft robot that could bend, twist, or squirm like an octopus or an earthworm? Researchers at Harvard University have done exactly that, developing soft robots made of rubber and powered by air instead of electricity. In this project you will use their designs to build a soft robotic gripper of your own. Read more
Robotics_p020
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires some specialty materials. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. Note: "Time required" includes shipping for specialty materials. The experiment itself can be done in 1-2 days.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Prolonged exposure to the silicone rubber used in this project can cause mild skin irritation. Disposable gloves are required for this project. Using a toaster oven (optional) requires adult supervision.
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