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Science Fair Project Idea
One way to test for the presence of toxic compounds in a water sample is a bioassay. In a bioassay, a living organism serves as a detector for toxins—the same way canaries were used in coal mines to detect invisible toxic gases. In this project, water fleas (Daphnia magna), a freshwater crustacean, are used in a bioassay to monitor water quality. Many variations of this experiment are possible. Read more
EnvSci_p043
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Adult supervision required when collecting sediment samples from parking lot.
Science Fair Project Idea
In this project, water fleas (Daphnia magna), a semi-transparent freshwater crustacean, are used to study the effects of caffeine on heart rate. Don't worry about having to learn how to take a crustacean's pulse: you can actually see the heart beating under a microscope. Many variations of this experiment are possible. Read more
Zoo_p048
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites You will need a microscope for observing Daphnia closely enough to monitor heart rate. Either a dissecting microscope or a compound microscope with low-power objective and a depression slide could be used.
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Chemicals from Earth's atmosphere are making their way down to the planet! Not in spaceships, but in rain. The acid rain can infiltrate ground water, lakes, and streams. How does acid rain affect aquatic ecosystems? Read more
EnvSci_p016
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None.
Material Availability Items will need to be special ordered. See the Materials and Equipment section for more details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No hazards.
Science Fair Project Idea
Did you know that when you use fertilizer in your garden, it can eventually reach a lake, stream, or pond? There are many different chemicals present in fertilizers. How will they affect the aquatic organisms in the ecosystem? In this science project you will get to find out! Read more
EnvSci_p017
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites This project will require approval from the [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ScientificReviewCommitteeSRC" Value="HtmlAnchor" #] if you use fish or any other vertebrate animal in your experiment.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety This project requires adult supervision when handling and measuring liquid fertilizer.
Science Fair Project Idea
Some plants grow only in water-logged environments. These plants are usually native to wetlands and are important for the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. Wetland ecosystems are very fragile and susceptible to the toxic dumping of sewage and fertilizer run-off from neighboring farm land. One very common aquatic plant called duckweed inhabits many wetland marshes. Duckweed grows by asexual reproduction and floats at the surface of the water with tiny roots extending into the water below.… Read more
PlantBio_p030
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Duckweed can be purchased from plant nurseries, or you can also find it growing naturally in local ponds and marshes. If you find the duckweed in a local water source, make sure you get permission from the land owner or town before taking any.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Caffeine is a type of chemical called a stimulant. When you drink a caffeinated beverage, the caffeine enters into your blood stream dilating the capillaries and causing blood to flow more quickly. This gives your body a feeling of speeding up which can cause the jitters and wakefulness. How does caffeine affect the physiology of other animals? You can use over-the-counter caffeine supplements, like Vivarin, to test the effects of caffeine on animals. Try dissolving the caffeine in… Read more
Zoo_p030
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Drosophila, daphnia, and other small invertebrate animals can be ordered from [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.ApprovedSuppliers" Value="HtmlAnchor" HtmlText="online vendors" #].
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
You might not know it, but a lake without algae would be a very dull place. If there were no algae, there would be no small animals feeding on the algae, and there wouldn't be any fish eating the small animals that eat the algae. You might conclude that since some algae is good, more algae is even better, but algae growth has a down side. If there is too much algae, they can deplete the oxygen in the water, killing off other species in the water. What is one culprit that leads to algal growth?… Read more
EnvSci_p054
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Material Availability You will need access to a pond or a lake from which to collect water. Students who do not have access to a pond or a lake might want to look at some of the variations, at the end of the project, which use purchased algae cultures.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Adult supervision is recommended.
Science Fair Project Idea
Silt is a fine sediment that collects on the bottoms of rivers, streams and lakes. The natural process of the decay of organisms into the water can lead to the production of silt at the bottom of a lake. Silt can be a rich source of nutrients for fish and bottom dwellers like crayfish. However, it can also be introduced by unnatural processes. One problem for rivers, lakes and streams is the buildup of excess fine sediment introduced by industry. Because it often contains harmful chemicals it… Read more
EnvSci_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
You might know that lead can be toxic, and that you can get lead poisoning from eating or inhaling old paint dust. Lead is called a heavy metal, and there are other sources of heavy metals that can be toxic, too. Silver, copper, mercury, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium are all heavy metals that can be toxic in certain environments. In this experiment, find out if one common heavy metal, copper, can be toxic to an aquatic environment. Read more
EnvSci_p018
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites The copper sulfate pentahydrate used in this project requires special disposal. Create a disposal plan before starting this project. See the end of the Procedure for more details.
Material Availability Items will need to be special ordered. See the Materials & Equipment section for more details.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety This project requires adult supervision when handling and measuring copper sulfate granules. Wear gloves and safety goggles when measuring. Dispose of the copper sulfate pentahydrate solutions and leftover granules according to local pesticide disposal regulations.
Science Fair Project Idea
Watching fish swim around a tank is not only a soothing activity, but (along with learning how to care for the aquarium inhabitants) it is also a good introduction to ichthyology, the study of fish. But having pet fish doesn't have to be a passive hobby; you can put those fish to work by helping to grow food for you and your family. How? By designing and building an aquaponics system. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture. Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without… Read more
EnvEng_p032
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Read the following Science Buddies resource on [# ProjectGuide Name="Advanced.MeasuringPlantGrowth" Value="HtmlAnchor" #]
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Use caution when using drills and power tools. Be sure to wear safety goggles. Adult supervision is required.
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