Use sound recording and analysis software to record voices of your family members. Can you figure out ways to identify each family member by just looking at the analyzed sound patterns from their voice (e.g., spectral frequency analysis)? Develop a hypothesis about what types of sound analysis will identify an individual. Have a helper record additional test files of your family members, without telling you which file belongs to whom. Unplug your computer speakers and see if you can…
A solution consists of a solute dissolved in a solvent. A solution is saturated when no additional solute will dissolve in it. Can a saturated solution of sodium chloride dissolve any Epsom salts? Can a saturated solution of Epsom salts dissolve any sodium chloride? How does solubility vary with temperature? How does solubility vary with the surface area of the solute? Design experiments to find out! (Gardner, 1999, 16-17, Stretton, 2004)
How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
You probably know that you can use iron filings to reveal the magnetic field produced by a strong magnet. If you sandwich the iron filings between pieces of waxed paper, you can make a permanent record of your magnetic experiments (Gardner, 2004, 66). Cover the wax paper sandwich with a layer of brown paper (from a roll, or cut open a paper shopping bag), and then (with an adult's help) use a hot, dry iron to seal the waxed paper together. You will have to experiment a little with your iron…
Beats are a pattern of oscillating sound intensity (i.e., the volume of the pattern grows and fades with a regular cycle). They occur when two tones of almost equal frequency interfere. People can perceive beat frequencies below about 7 Hz. Figure out how to create sound files to play pure tones on your computer. Create files with a pure tone of one frequency in the left channel, and a pure tone of a different frequency in the right channel. Systematically explore different frequency…
Ladybugs are common insects in North American gardens that prey upon aphids, making them all the rage in biological pest control. Ladybugs can be bred in captivity making them a good insect to study. Just chop off an aphid infested plant stem for food, make a water soaked cotton ball for water, and add to a small plastic container with a lid to make a breeding box. You can use ladybugs collected from the wild, or buy ladybugs from your local nursery. The most common species is the 12-spotted…
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Ladybugs can be collected from the wild, or purchased from a local nursery or an online vendor such as .
Have you ever set up a line of dominoes and watched them fall? If you wanted to make your line of dominoes fall faster, do you think you should set the dominoes up with more or less space between them? Set your dominoes up in a straight line, using a ruler to keep the spacing between them constant. Try different spacings at 0.5cm increments. Conduct multiple trials at each spacing, and time how long it takes for a fixed total length of dominoes to fall (e.g., a 1.5 or 3.0 meter length of…
Disposable diapers contain a polymer, called sodium acrylate, which is useful for absorbing water. Do background research to learn about sodium acrylate, and how it reacts with water. Make sure that you understand the terms hydrophilic, polarity and hydrogen bonding. Cut out the middle, padded section of a disposable diaper. Cut this into equally-sized square pieces, approximately 10-12 cm on a side. Remove some of the stuffing material so that you can staple the open ends closed. …
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