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Science Fair Project Idea
Here is a challenging problem for anyone with an interest in geometry. This project requires background research to solve it, but it is an excellent illustration of visual thinking in mathematics. Figure 1 below shows a series of circles (iC₁, iC₂, iC₃, ..., iC₃₀), inscribed inside an arbelos. What is an arbelos? The arbelos is the white region in the figure, bounded by three semicircles. The diameters of the three semicircles are all on the same line segment, AC,… Read more
Math_p011
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Good grasp of Euclidean geometry, a firm understanding of how to construct a mathematical proof, determination
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Math can make you money! If you understand some basic math, you can make good decisions about how to keep, spend, and use your hard earned dollars. Try an experiment comparing the same balance in different types of bank accounts. How much better is a savings account than a checking account? What difference does the interest rate make? Which is better, an account that earns compound or simple interest? Can you compare the short and long term costs of borrowing money compared to saving the cash… Read more
Math_p027
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
A magic square is an arrangement of numbers from 1 to n2 in an n x n matrix. In a magic square each number occurs exactly once such that the sum of the entries of any row, column, or main diagonal is the same. You can make several magic squares and investigate the different properties of the square. Can you make an algorithm for constructing a Magic Square? Can you show that the sum of the entries of any row, column, or main diagonal must be n(n2+1)/2? Are there any other hidden properties of a… Read more
Math_p036
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
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… Read more
Math_p031
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Science Fair Project Idea
How do you turn a 2-dimensional piece of paper into a 3-dimensional work of art? Origami, the classical art of Japanese paper folding, is loaded with mathematical themes and concepts. What are the common folds in origami, and how do they combine to create 3-dimensional structure? Can you classify different types of origami into classes based upon the types of folds they use? Can you show Kawasaki's Theorem, that if you add up the angle measurements of every other angle around a point, the sum… Read more
Math_p032
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Science Fair Project Idea
If you've played catch with both Aerobie flying rings and Frisbees, you know that the rings fly much further than the Frisbees with the same throwing effort. Why is that? Investigate the aerodynamics of flying rings and flying disks and find out! Read more
Aero_p011
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No hazards
Science Fair Project Idea
You may know Lewis Carroll as the author of Alice in Wonderland, but did you know that in real life he was a mathematician who studied symbolic logic and logical reasoning? How can math help you solve Lewis Carroll's Logic Game? (Bogomolny, 2006) How are algorithms for solving the game Sudoku similar to solving a logic problem? (Hayes, 2006) For the super-advanced mathematical genius, try to evaluate currently available, logic-based computational tools, or design a better one!… Read more
Math_p035
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
If you like to play Tetris, then you might like this project. You will learn something interesting about the mathematics of complex shapes as you try to prove Pick's Theorem. The strange shape below is an example of a lattice polygon, which is a polygon whose vertices lie on points in the plane that have integer coordinates. As you can see, it is a complex shape, but there is an easy way to calculate its area, by simply counting lattice points! If you count the number of lattice points on… Read more
Math_p009
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Almost all of the games we play are based on math in some way or another. Card games, board games, and computer games are designed using statistics, probabilities, and algorithms. Begin by reading about games and game theory. Then you can choose your favorite game and investigate the mathematical principles behind how it works. Can combinatorial game theory help you to win two-player games of perfect knowledge such as go, chess, or checkers? (Weisstein, 2006; Watkins, 2004) In a multi-player… Read more
Math_p033
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Math is used by many different types of scientists to model phenomenon and evaluate data from an experiment. By building mathematical models scientists can understand how different physical, chemical, and biological processes are affected by different variables. The most important tools are: making a graph to give a visual representation of the relationships between your variables and making an equation to give a way of computing the relationships between your variables. Find a source of data,… Read more
Math_p029
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
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