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Project Idea
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal near Falkirk in central Scotland. It consists of two diametrically opposed caissons which rotate to lift boats between the two canals through a height of 35 meters. The wheel is always perfectly balanced and, despite its enormous mass, rotates through 180° in less than four minutes, using just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Do background research to find out how much energy… Read more
Energy_p006
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Project Idea
thumbnail How big a ruler would you need to measure the circumference of the Earth? Did you know that you can do it with a yardstick? (And you won't have to travel all the way around the world!) Read more
Astro_p018
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites You will need to understand some basic principles of geometry for this project. You will need a friend or relative in a distant city to make a shadow measurement for you on the same day you make yours. Both of you will need clear weather.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
You can investigate how the geography of an area makes it prone to severe flash floods. Some areas, typically gullies or canyons, can flood extremely rapidly making it impossible to escape a flash flood. Compare the topography, or geographical shape, or these areas. What makes them prone to flash floods? Can you do an experiment showing how the flow of water increases as a channel narrows? Can you use topological maps of your region to identify areas at risk for flash floods? (NCAR, 2006;… Read more
Weather_p027
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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)
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
thumbnail If you're the kind of person who has taken apart your Rubik's cube in order to grease the inside parts so it will move more smoothly, this could be a great project for you. We'll show you three sets of move sequences that accomplish specific rearrangements of the cube. Can you devise a way to solve the cube using only these three move sequences? Read more
Math_p025
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites To do this project you should enjoy solving puzzles and thinking in three dimensions.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
How do you figure out how to get places? Do you ask for directions, look at a map, or consult a compass? There are many ways for people to figure out how to travel from one place to another, but how do other animals do it? In this science fair project, you'll use real data, collected by biologists, to figure out how migratory birds manage to navigate more than 2,000 miles from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds. Read more
Zoo_p053
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science fair project requires the use of a computer with Internet access to download data-analysis software.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
How do you turn a 2-dimentional piece of paper into a 3-dimentional 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-dimentional 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)
Project Idea
thumbnail A ship is a busy place. When out to sea, naval, research, and fishing vessels pull or push heavy loads, like research equipment and crab pots, into and out of the water. But equipment and pots can weigh hundreds of pounds. So how does a ship's crew lift loads efficiently and accurately? With a hydraulic knuckle crane, of course. But what is hydraulics and why does hydraulics make certain tasks easier? Hydraulics is the study of liquids and their mechanical properties: how they move, resist… Read more
ApMech_p049
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You will need to purchase syringes to build the model crane.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Be sure to wear safety goggles when using tools like saws and drills. Minor injury is possible. Adult supervision is required.
Project Idea
Graphical methods of data presentation are a key feature of scientific communication. This project asks the question, "What's the best way to compare the land area of states: a map or a bar graph?" You'll be measuring performance on two different visual discrimination tasks: comparison of areas vs. comparison of position on a common scale. Which method is more accurate? Which method is faster? This project will get you thinking about how to find the best way to communicate scientific… Read more
HumBeh_p012
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
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