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Science Fair Project Idea
You may know Lewis Carroll as the author of Alice in Wonderland, but did you know that in real life he was a mathematician who studied symbolic logic and logical reasoning? How can math help you solve Lewis Carroll's Logic Game? (Bogomolny, 2006) How are algorithms for solving the game Sudoku similar to solving a logic problem? (Hayes, 2006) For the super-advanced mathematical genius, try to evaluate currently available, logic-based computational tools, or design a better one!… Read more
Math_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
A magic square is an arrangement of numbers from 1 to n2 in an n x n matrix. In a magic square each number occurs exactly once such that the sum of the entries of any row, column, or main diagonal is the same. You can make several magic squares and investigate the different properties of the square. Can you make an algorithm for constructing a Magic Square? Can you show that the sum of the entries of any row, column, or main diagonal must be n(n2+1)/2? Are there any other hidden properties of a… Read more
Math_p036
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Almost all of the games we play are based on math in some way or another. Card games, board games, and computer games are designed using statistics, probabilities, and algorithms. Begin by reading about games and game theory. Then you can choose your favorite game and investigate the mathematical principles behind how it works. Can combinatorial game theory help you to win two-player games of perfect knowledge such as go, chess, or checkers? (Weisstein, 2006; Watkins, 2004) In a multi-player… Read more
Math_p033
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Imagine a symmetrical grid of nine points superimposed over the ball. Kicking the ball squarely on the center point imparts no spin, but kicking on any of the other points will impart spin on the ball. How will the resulting spin affect the trajectory of the ball for each of the 8 outer grid points? Kicking the ball with a sliding motion of the foot is another way to impart spin. Once you've made your predictions, you can set up to test them with a soccer ball, video camera and a tape… Read more
Sports_p031
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
What do knots, maps, mazes, driving directions, and doughnuts have in common? The answer is topology, a branch of mathematics that studies the spatial properties and connections of an object. Topology has sometimes been called rubber-sheet geometry because it does not distinguish between a circle and a square (a circle made out of a rubber band can be stretched into a square) but does distinguish between a circle and a figure eight (you cannot stretch a figure eight into a circle without… Read more
Math_p030
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Start with 7 drinking straws and 14 paper clips. Use the paper clips to fasten the straws together. Here's how: 1) Clip two paper clips together, narrow end to narrow end. 2) Push the wide ends of each clip into the end of a straw. That's it! Connect four straws to make a square, and three straws to make a triangle. Now test which shape is stronger. Hold the shapes vertically, with an edge or a vertex resting on the tabletop. Have a helper push on the opposite side or vertex. Which shape… Read more
CE_p017
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
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… Read more
Astro_p026
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
How do you turn a 2-dimensional piece of paper into a 3-dimensional work of art? Origami, the classical art of Japanese paper folding, is loaded with mathematical themes and concepts. What are the common folds in origami, and how do they combine to create 3-dimensional structure? Can you classify different types of origami into classes based upon the types of folds they use? Can you show Kawasaki's Theorem, that if you add up the angle measurements of every other angle around a point, the sum… Read more
Math_p032
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Science Fair Project Idea
If you like to play Tetris, then you might like this project. You will learn something interesting about the mathematics of complex shapes as you try to prove Pick's Theorem. The strange shape below is an example of a lattice polygon, which is a polygon whose vertices lie on points in the plane that have integer coordinates. As you can see, it is a complex shape, but there is an easy way to calculate its area, by simply counting lattice points! If you count the number of lattice points on… Read more
Math_p009
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
If you know or calculate the field of view for your camera, you can use it to measure distances and the height of almost anything. It's all a matter of basic trigonometry. Read more
Photo_p015
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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