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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)
Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered why a plant that grows well in one environment may not survive in a different environment? For example, plants that grow well in a wet jungle would probably not do so well in a dry desert, lacking enough water. This is because plants have adapted to their specific environment. Some plants have even adapted to tolerate chemicals that would usually be toxic, such as various heavy metals. In this plant biology science project, you will investigate whether different… Read more
PlantBio_p047
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability The Arabidopsis thaliana seeds for this science project need to be specially ordered in advance with the help of a parent or teacher. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Take all proper safety precautions when working with the heavy metals. Wear gloves. You may need additional protection, such as goggles.
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.
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.
Project Idea
thumbnail What happens to the food leftovers in your home? Do they go in the trash? Down the garbage disposal? Or get gobbled up by the family dog? Food leftovers are a type of organic waste, a waste that comes from a plant or animal. Organic waste, like table scraps, agricultural waste, and human and animal waste, is biodegradable. This means, if oxygen is present, it can be broken down by various microorganisms through a process called composting. If oxygen is not present, it can be broken down using… Read more
EnvSci_p055
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Composting worms will need to be ordered online. A worm farm can be constructed or purchased.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety No issues
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 online vendors.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail When you think about robots, chances are they are contraptions that you have seen on TV, in movies, or even in real life — and they are usually made of metal. What if you could make a soft robot that could bend, twist, or squirm like an octopus or an earthworm? Researchers at Harvard University have done exactly that, developing soft robots made of rubber and powered by air instead of electricity. In this project you will use their designs to build a soft robotic gripper of your own. Read more
Robotics_p020
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This project requires some specialty materials. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. Note: "Time required" includes shipping for specialty materials. The experiment itself can be done in 1-2 days.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Prolonged exposure to the silicone rubber used in this project can cause mild skin irritation. Disposable gloves are required for this project. Using a toaster oven (optional) requires adult supervision.
Project Idea
thumbnail 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 Measuring Plant Growth
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.
Project Idea
During metabolism, organisms experience physical and chemical changes. All animals need some way to exchange chemical waste generated during metabolism for fresh nutrients. One way that these metabolic chemicals are exchanged is during respiration, the process by which used carbon dioxide gas is exchanged with fresh oxygen and circulated throughout the body. How do organisms living underwater respirate? They use gills, which filter oxygen from the water and pass the oxygen into the… Read more
Zoo_p031
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Did you know that the same digital photo you see on a computer monitor may not look as good in print? When it comes to color profiles, there are a lot of options: RGB, CMYK, grayscale and indexed color! How do you choose the right color profile for the job? Read more
Photo_p008
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty Item: Requires Adobe Photoshop or similar photo editing software
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
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