Many people routinely use fertilizer for crops, gardens, and lawns. What people don't know is that each time they apply fertilizer, the fertilizer seeps through the soil into the water table. This can eventually lead to the contamination of a local water source, like a stream, pond, lake, bay, or ocean. This is an especially big problem for agricultural practices that frequently use large amounts of fertilizer on fields that are connected by irrigation channels. The run-off of fertilizer…
One way to conserve water is to find safe ways to use it more than once. Here is a project to test whether greywater (water that has been used for washing or bathing) can be used for watering ornamental plants.
Can an authority figure make someone question their own memory? How reliable is eyewitness information? This project looks into these questions. You'll need a poster-sized image that includes many faces, and a volunteers to act as "eyewitnesses." The volunteers are tested individually. The instructions are that they have one minute to examine the poster, and then a fixed amount of time (e.g., 5 minutes) to write down brief, accurate descriptions of all the faces they can remember. They'll…
If you like to fish and you'd rather not be telling the story of "the one that got away," then this is a project for you. What combination of properties makes for the best fishing line? Here are some suggestions for getting started on your background research into fishing line properties: knot strength, abrasion strength, shock strength, tensile strength, limpness, controlled stretch, and desired range of visibility (Dodson, 2006). Choose the properties that you think are most important, and…
Whiteflies are a group of closely related insect species whose larvae live on plants. Like aphids, they suck nutrients from the plant's circulatory system. What is the most effective method for fighting a whitefly infestation in your garden? This project has some ideas for you to try.
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Long (2-4 weeks)
Plants with whitefly infestation for testing different treatments.
Average ($50 - $100)
Adult supervision required. Follow manufacturers instructions for safe use of commercial whitefly treatments.
What are the best materials to use for blocking out unwanted noise from the environment? You can build a test box (or test frame) around an audio speaker. Use a sound level meter to measure the speaker output. Use different materials to cover the walls of your test box (or frame), and see which materials do the best job at blocking the sound. For a more advanced project, perform your tests using different sound frequencies. Are some materials better at blocking certain frequencies than…
Do you ever go camping with your family and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire? If you want your campfire to burn long into the evening, what is the best wood to use? Do research on the necessary conditions/materials to sustain a fire and on the properties of different types of wood. Which properties do you think will be most important for determining how fast the wood burns? For example, how do you think density would be related to burning rate? Why? Measure the density and…
Try different wind turbine/propeller (chord length, pitch) designs by making models from balsa wood. Connect the spinning axle to a DC motor and measure the voltage produced across a resistor to measure power output. Use fan as wind source. (Judge, 2004)
Did you know that you can use more water on your lawn and garden in the summer than you use for all other purposes all year long? If you have an automated sprinkler system for your lawn and/or garden, this project could save money on your family's monthly water bill. You'll also be helping to conserve a precious natural resource: clean water.
In the U.S., lighting homes and businesses accounts for 22% of all electric power consumption (Raloff, 2006). That's $55 billion worth of electricity, or the output of 100 large power plants (Raloff, 2006). How much energy could be saved by switching home lighting from incandescent to more efficient fluorescent lights? Conduct a survey to find out what types of lighting are used in homes in your area. Come up with an estimate of how many light fixtures are used in an average home, what types…
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