If you've ever been on a long hike, you probably already know how hungry all that walking can make you. But if you're going a long distance, the last thing you want is a heavy pack of snacks on your back. So what can you bring along for a healthy, hunger-satisfying, lightweight snack? How about dried foods, like banana chips or beef jerky? Many foods have high water content. The drying process removes much of the water from the food, leaving behind a lighter, but equally nutritious snack. Just…
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This project may require the use of a sharp knife and the oven. Adult supervision is required.
In this project you'll make a liquid that will contradict your expectations. Hold it loosely in your hand and it will drip off your fingers, but grab it tightly and it will feel solid. Slap a bowl of it with a spoon, and instead of splattering, it solidifies. Do background research on colloids, and be sure you can explain the following terms: colloid, Newtonian fluid, non-Newtonian fluid, thixotropic. (For instructions on how to make it see the link listed under Exploratorium, 1998, in the…
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
The rebound rating is the ratio of the height the ball bounces to, divided by the height the ball was dropped from. Use the rebound rating to measure the bounciness of new tennis balls vs. balls that have been used for 10, 20, 50, and 100 games. Another idea to explore: does it matter what type of court the ball is used on? (See: Goodstein, 1999, 63-64.)
A fractal is, "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced/size copy of the whole" (Mandelbrot, 1982). There are many different fractal patterns, each with unique properties and typically named after the mathematician who discovered it. A fractal increases in complexity as it is generated through repeated sets of numbers called iterations. There are many interesting projects exploring fractal geometry that go beyond…
Using just a single sheet of paper (8.5 x 11 inches) and up to five paper clips, can you build a bridge that will span 20 cm and support the weight of 100 pennies? The area beneath the span must be free (so that boats can pass beneath it). To test your bridge, place two books 20 cm apart, and set the bridge on the books, spanning the gap. Do not fasten the bridge to the book (nor to any other support). Does your bridge hold as much weight as you expected it would? If your bridge fails…
Does the force of drag have an effect on the distance the puck will travel? Think of a way to launch the puck with a reproducible force, and examine the effect of launching the puck in different orientations on the distance it travels. For more information on the physics, see Haché, 2002.
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