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Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail 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
thumbnail 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
thumbnail 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
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
thumbnail 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
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
thumbnail Have you ever heard the expression "a canary in a coal mine"? In the 1900's and earlier, coal miners brought canaries with them into the mines to act as early warning signals. The canaries were very sensitive to low levels of dangerous gases, so if the birds stopped singing, or got sick, then the miners knew to leave immediately, even if they felt fine. As it turns out, our froggy friends are also very helpful at signaling problems, not in mines, but in and around bodies of water. Try this… Read more
EnvSci_p048
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Students must have access to a pond, lake, or marsh with abundant frogs.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Never explore natural bodies of water alone. Never pick up brightly colored frogs. Adult supervision is required.
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
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
What is cloning and how is it used in the biotechnology industry? How are plasmids constructed for use in a bacterial expression system? You can investigate bacterial expression with the from the Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer Program (see the Science Buddies project, ). With variations to this kit you can test the conditions for pGLO expression under different conditions. You can also combine with other kits to map the pGLO plasmid and purify the expressed pGLO protein using column… Read more
BioChem_p024
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Some laboratory experience is required: knowledge of sterile technique, working with bacterial cultures, and using automatic pipettes are all helpful.
Material Availability In the Summary tab change the Material Availability field to read: This science project requires the purchase of Bio-Rad's [# Link Name="BioChem_p035.6" Value="HtmlAnchor" #]. You will need a teacher's help to order the kit as Bio-Rad only sells directly to schools.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety Adult supervision is required in the laboratory facility. 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.
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