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…
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…
A video camera records 30 "frames" or distinct images per second. (That's for an NTSC camera in the U.S. PAL cameras in other areas of the world take 25 frames per second.) You can use this fact to time events and measure velocity. One student has used a video camera to measure the velocity of an arrow shot from a bow.
Here's an interesting project idea with a variation that combines computer science, physics and music. You'll need a piano in a quiet room, a microphone and a computer with digital sound recording and analysis software. The project shows you how you can make a piano string start vibrating without hitting its key. You can record the sounds on the computer, and use sound analysis software to measure the frequencies of the induced vibrations. For more details see: . Be sure to check out the…
When the punter is trying to hit the "coffin corner" (within the opposing team's 10-yard line), out of bounds, what is the best angle to kick the ball for correct distance and maximum "hang time?" (For more information on the physics involved, see: Gay, 2004, Chapters 4 and 5.)
Your digital photo comprises a certain number of dots in the x and y directions. What happens to the print image quality as you "stretch" those dots out to larger and larger pictures? (Note: This experiment studies the dots per inch in the image itself, not the number of dots per inch that is output by your printer.)
Soil may look like a bunch of dirt, but good quality soil is actually a complex mixture of dirt, nutrients, microorganisms, insects and worms. What type of benefit do these microorganisms offer a growing plant? You can test this by baking soil in the oven to sterilize and kill the microorganisms. Do plants grown in sterile soil do better than plants in unsterilized soil? What about adding worms to one plant, but not to the other. Will the plant with worms grow better? Some insects are bad…
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Adult supervision is required when using the oven. Use caution when handling and disposing of mold. Treat molds according to the same safety rules as outlined for bacteria in the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #].
For this project, you'll use a baseball as a pendulum weight, studying the motion of the ball with and without spin. Wrap a rubber band around the ball, and tie a string to the rubber band. Fasten the string so that the ball hangs down and can swing freely. Mark a regular grid on cardboard, and place it directly beneath the ball to measure the motion. You can also time the oscillations with a stopwatch. Lift the ball along one of the grid axes, and let it go. Observe the motion and record…
The rebound rating is the ratio of the height the ball bounces to, divided by the height the ball was dropped from. Use the rebound rating to measure the bounciness of new tennis balls vs. balls that have been used for 10, 20, 50, and 100 games. Another idea to explore: does it matter what type of court the ball is used on? (See: Goodstein, 1999, 63-64.)
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…
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