If you stare at a waterfall, or look at passing scenery from the window of a moving train, you will have a strange sensation when you turn your gaze to something stationary. You can investigate these types of motion after-effects
with simple equipment described by the .
How long does it take to induce the effect? How long does the effect last? Can the after-effect be canceled by viewing motion in the opposite direction? (Staff, date unknown)
Can you remember what the weather was like last week? Last year? Here's a project that looks at what the weather was like for over a hundred years. You'll use historical climate data to look at moisture conditions in regions across the continental U.S. You'll use a spreadsheet program to calculate the frequency of different moisture conditions for each region and make graphs for comparison. Which part of the country has the most frequent droughts? The most frequent periods of prolonged…
Humans are bipedal, which means we walk using two legs. This gave humans an adaptive advantage during the evolution of humankind. Being bipedal gave humans additional speed, balance and flexibility used for walking, hunting or traveling long distances. However, we may have lost the ability to climb or swing in trees like other primates. How much faster can you go when you are bipedal? Have a race with your friends using two legs, and then four legs (use your arms as your 3rd and 4th legs).…
Try gluing wood together with different types of glue, e.g.: regular white glue, yellow wood glue, cyanoacrylate (super glue), and Liquid Nails. Glue a short piece (5-8 cm) to the center of a longer piece (15-30 cm). After the glue has dried for the recommended time, drill a small hole through the center of the joint, big enough to pass through a piece of coat-hanger wire. Cut a length of coat hanger wire, pass it through the hole, and twist the ends together to form a loop. Place the ends…
Does adhesive tape hang tight at different temperatures? Measure the adhesive strength of tape at both low and high temperatures. To raise the temperature, we suggest using a blow dryer at both low and high heat settings. To lower the temperature, use an ice pack (try to keep condensation from forming on the tape and confounding the results). For even lower temperatures you could try "dry ice" (frozen carbon dioxide), if available. (Wear heavy gloves when handling dry ice, because it can…
Fruit is a strategy some plants use to attract animals to disperse seeds. The animals eat the fruit and disperse the seeds through the digestive system. To attract animals, fruit needs to ripen and develop an odor that acts as an attractant. How much more successful are ripe fruits at attracting animals? Try setting out an over and under ripe piece of fruit, and compare how many many insects are attracted to each fruit. How does ripening occur? You can do an experiment using a very ripe…
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Do not eat any fruit to which you have added chemicals. Use caution when using sharp knives or other kitchen equipment; adult supervision is recommended.
You probably know that you can use iron filings to reveal the magnetic field produced by a strong magnet. If you sandwich the iron filings between pieces of waxed paper, you can make a permanent record of your magnetic experiments (Gardner, 2004, 66). Cover the wax paper sandwich with a layer of brown paper (from a roll, or cut open a paper shopping bag), and then (with an adult's help) use a hot, dry iron to seal the waxed paper together. You will have to experiment a little with your iron…
If you live in a humid environment, then you know that summer is not only hot, it is downright muggy. You can test the effect of humidity on temperature by measuring the temperature and humidity in your bathroom while running the shower. You can also use historical weather data to compare average seasonal temperatures in humid (e.g., Florida) and dry (e.g., Arizona) regions. How does humidity relate to temperature? Pressure? Why do humid environments tend to be coastal or tropical? How does…
Tornadoes are a very destructive weather phenomenon that is very hard to predict. Certain weather conditions can indicate if a tornado is likely to occur, but the path that the tornado will take is completely unpredictable. Storm chasers are people who chase tornadoes and try to capture them on film or video. They often have a sense of predicting where and when a tornado will strike, but the best images are also due to a bit of luck and survival instinct. Even though tornadoes are…
Floods can be very destructive, capable of leveling whole towns and decimating crops and fields. Typically in regions prone to flooding there are cycles of flooding that occur, usually in areas where a wet season comes after a period of drought. You can use precipitation data to test if incidents of flooding have been preceded by periods of drought. Look for long periods of dryness in the precipitation data to indicate a drought. You can also conduct an experiment on dry or moist soil to see…
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