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Project Idea
What variables contribute to the properties of the soil in an area? Investigate the role of climate, weather, topography, time, parent material, vegetation, and biological and chemical agents on soil formation. How are soils characterized? There are 3 basic particle sizes which create three basic soil types: sand, silt, and clay. Investigate the properties of the three different types of soil by observing grain size, shape, hardness, color, chemical composition, pore space, aeration,… Read more
Geo_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Divide a part of your garden into two equal plots, with each plot receiving equal amounts of sun. Cover one plot with two inches of organic mulch, such as compost or ground bark. Leave the other plot uncovered. Use the same amount of water for each plot for two or three weeks. At the beginning of the experiment, and at one-week intervals, dig down and check the soil in each plot for moisture content. Which plot holds water better? Which plot shows better plant growth? (McCausland, 2006) Read more
EnvEng_p021
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Project Idea
Think about mountain ranges, canyons, sand dunes, or any other interesting geological feature you may live near enough to visit. The surface of the Earth is always changing due to a balance of forces both above and below the surface. Below-surface forces cause the Earth's crust to be faulted, folded, tilted, and lifted. Above-surface forces are primarily due to the natural processes of weathering and erosion. Can you show the effects of these forces using scale models, demonstrations,… Read more
Geo_p032
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Is soil structure an important factor in earthquake dynamics? Investigate soil liquefaction and how different soil types respond to earthquake movements. Are movements more dramatic in sandy/loamy or clay type soils? Which soil structures are most stable? Which are the most volatile? (MCEER, 2005) Read more
Geo_p037
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Soils are made of particles of different types and sizes. The space between particles is called pore space. Pore space determines the amount of water that a given volume of soil can hold. Porosity is the percentage of the total volume of soil that consists of pore space. Compare the porosity of different types of soil. Which types of soil hold the most water? Can you see this under a microscope? Read more
Geo_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
The conversion of forested to unforested areas has been occurring since humans began to impact and change their environments during the agricultural revolution. Recently deforestation has become a global problem, particularly for developing industrial countries and countries with very large populations. You can use satellite mapping resources to investigate the connection between urbanization, population growth and deforestation. You can also investigate the connection between deforestation… Read more
EnvSci_p033
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Project Idea
Even though many cities have recycling programs, a lot of trash still ends up in the dump. Find out which materials will break down and which materials won't. Will the results of this experiment change which products you often buy? Read more
EnvSci_p010
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
How much force can a rubber band withstand before breaking? Do rubber bands that stretch longer take more or less force to break? How does the elasticity of a rubber band change with temperature? Use a spring scale to measure the applied force, and a meter stick or ruler to measure the change in length. Recording with a video camera (or possibly two) can help you to capture the values at the moment before the rubber band breaks. You can change the temperature of the rubber bands using… Read more
ApMech_p033
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
You can measure the viscosity of a fluid using a glass tube and a marble with slightly smaller diameter than the tube. Seal one end of the tube. Fill the tube with the fluid to be tested. Drop the marble into to the tube and measure the time it takes to fall a fixed distance. Repeat the measurement several times, and use the average value. How does viscosity change with the amount of sugar dissolved in water? How does viscosity change with temperature? Read more
Aero_p032
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Soil may look like a bunch of dirt, but good quality soil is actually a complex mixture of dirt, nutrients, microorganisms, insects and worms. What type of benefit do these microorganisms offer a growing plant? You can test this by baking soil in the oven to sterilize and kill the microorganisms. Do plants grown in sterile soil do better than plants in unsterilized soil? What about adding worms to one plant, but not to the other. Will the plant with worms grow better? Some insects are bad… Read more
PlantBio_p031
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Adult supervision is required when using the oven. Use caution when handling and disposing of mold. Treat molds according to the same safety rules as outlined for bacteria in the Microorganisms Safety Guide.
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