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…
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…
"What?! Many of my toys are also machines?" That's right—simple machines! Simple machines are everywhere! Under your feet when you climb stairs, in your hand when you use a utensil to eat your dinner, even in your arm when you throw a ball. Come visit this science fair project and explore the six types of simple machines. Find out how many are hiding under the hinged lid (yes, another simple machine) of your toy box!
Did you know that commercial airline pilots use high-tech flight simulators to learn how to fly big jumbo jets? Before they ever step behind the controls of a real jet they've already logged thousands of virtual air miles. It might not qualify you to fly a real jumbo jet, but you, too, can learn the logistics of aviation by experimenting with the types of flight simulators sold at computer game retailers. Use a flight simulator to investigate the relationship between flap settings and the stall…
Make a pinhole projector (see ). 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 and falls with an 11-year cycle. At this…
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…
Did you know that a scientific study has shown that chewing Big Red Gum reduces mouth microbes? (ScienceDaily contributors, 2004) The cinnamon oil in the gum is a natural defense against mouth bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath. Conduct an experiment to compare products with cinnamon essence in gum, candy, toothpaste, and mouthwash to see if they can decrease mouth germs. Do a before and after swab of the mouth with a Q-tip. Which treatments work the best? Can you find another…
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Long (2-4 weeks)
A basic knowledge of how to work with bacteria is needed to complete this science fair project. Consult the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicrobiologyTechniquesampTroubleshooting" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Microbiology Techniques and Troubleshooting" #] guide for information on how to conduct microbiology experiments.
Specialty items, like the media to grow bacteria on, can be ordered from [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="online vendors" #] such as [# Link Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers.2" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="Carolina Biological Supply Company" #].
Average ($50 - $100)
Use sterile technique. Read the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MicroorganismsSafetyGuide" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlShortTitle="true" #] before starting any experiments. [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ScientificReviewCommitteeSRC" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="SRC approval" #] may be necessary. Adult supervision is recommended.
Math can make you money! If you understand some basic math, you can make good decisions about how to keep, spend, and use your hard earned dollars. Try an experiment comparing the same balance in different types of bank accounts. How much better is a savings account than a checking account? What difference does the interest rate make? Which is better, an account that earns compound or simple interest? Can you compare the short and long term costs of borrowing money compared to saving the cash…
Visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program to find out about global patterns of earthquake incidents (USGS, 2006). Can mapping earthquakes help identify fault lines? They also have a list of science fair project ideas. Another great resource for earthquake-oriented science fair projects is by Jeffery Barker (Barker, 1994). Build a model to study the forces of an earthquake using sandpaper-covered blocks. What are the forces involved? How are stress and friction in balance along a fault line?…
Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the…
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