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Project Idea
Make a pinhole projector (see Measuring the Diameter of the Sun and the Moon). Use the pinhole to project an image of the Sun onto a wall or a piece of paper. Do you notice any dark spots on the projected image? Trace the projected image and count the dark spots. Use your pinhole projector to make images of the Sun at the same time of day for several consecutive days. How does the pattern of spots change? Can you use your data to figure out how fast the Sun rotates? Sunspot activity rises… Read more
Astro_p027
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
thumbnail Sunspot activity has been monitored continuously since about 1700. The historical data shows that sunspot activity rises and falls in a roughly 11-year cycle. This project shows you how you can use both graphical and statistical analysis to look for patterns in cyclical data. Read more
Astro_p017
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Computer with Internet access and a spreadsheet program (e.g., Excel, QuattroPro), previous experience with statistics helpful
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Scientists have known for hundreds of years that sunspot activity waxes and wanes over a cycle that lasts approximately 11 years. In the 1970's, scientists discovered that the sun periodically blasts electrified gases into space, in huge outbursts called 'coronal mass ejections,' or CMEs. This project asks the question: do CMEs follow the solar sunspot cycle? Read more
Astro_p021
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Here's a cool project that shows you how to use images from an orbiting observatory to measure how fast the Sun rotates. Read more
Astro_p005
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
The Sun is the ultimate source of the energy that powers weather systems on Earth. Geomagnetic storms are sun-powered storms in the upper atmosphere, arising from energized particles that are periodically ejected by the Sun. Among other effects, geomagnetic storms can wreak havoc with earth-orbiting satellites, and disrupt satellite communications. The global positioning system (GPS) is a network of 24 earth-orbiting satellites that constantly sends radio signals through the earth's… Read more
Weather_p009
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites You will need access to a WAAS-capable GPS receiver for this project. You will need to understand how to operate the GPS receiver. Note that WAAS signals are only available in North America.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail The sun sometimes releases huge bursts of electrified gases into space. These bursts are called coronal mass ejections (or CMEs). When CMEs are directed towards Earth they can generate auroras, the spectacular atmospheric displays also known as "northern lights" (photo by Chris VenHaus, 2001). In this project you'll use images from the SOHO satellite to measure how fast CMEs move. Read more
Astro_p020
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail The past few years have histories of extremely powerful and dangerous storms. Storms have also become more numerous over the last few years. To investigate potential effects of climate on hurricane number and strength, in this project you will study the effects of El Niño on hurricanes. Read more
OceanSci_p007
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites Good computer skills
Material Availability Readily Available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Use your Internet sleuthing skills to learn about solar system objects. Create a table of measurements of moons and asteroids in order to determine if there is a size threshold for roundness. A good source of information would be an online guide such as The Nine Planets (Arnett, W.A., 2006). You'll find information about planetary satellites, including dimensions and accompanying pictures. From the pictures, classify the satellites and asteroids according to how round they are. Can you think of… Read more
Astro_p025
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
thumbnail The amount of energy produced by most photovoltaic (solar) panels is limited, due to their immobility. However, when photovoltaic panels track the movement of the Sun, their efficiency increases significantly. This can be done with computers and sophisticated electronics, but for rural or wilderness settings, a "low-tech" sun tracker would be beneficial. A solution exists in nature: the sunflower. The challenge in this science fair project is to design and build a device that imitates the… Read more
ApMech_p045
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Experience designing and building mechanical devices is preferred, or at least the willingness to invest many hours designing, testing, and re-designing.
Material Availability You will need a photovoltaic panel, approximately 200 square cm.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Has your house (or one of your friend's houses) been remodeled recently? Were any improvements made for energy efficiency (solar systems, better insulation, passive solar heating, better lighting)? Compare your family's energy costs for a similar time period before and after the remodeling (remember that energy usage often varies seasonally). Monthly bills often have a bar graph showing energy usage for the previous 12 months. You may also be able to get information on past energy usage… Read more
EnvEng_p017
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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