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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…
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Short (2-5 days)
Computer with Internet access and a spreadsheet program (e.g., Excel)
Here's an interesting project idea with a variation that combines computer science, physics and music. You'll need a piano in a quiet room, a microphone and a computer with digital sound recording and analysis software. The project shows you how you can make a piano string start vibrating without hitting its key. You can record the sounds on the computer, and use sound analysis software to measure the frequencies of the induced vibrations. For more details see: . Be sure to check out the…
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,…
Ocean currents have a huge impact on our weather. If not for the ocean currents, the global climate would be similar to an ice age. Do you live near the coast? Find out which currents are near your coastline. How do they affect your climate? Where do they come from? Do they bring colder or warmer water to your area? Are they seasonal? What do you think your area would be like without them? Every three to seven years there is a weather phenomenon called El Niño, which is caused by…
Get good photographs of the Moon showing lots of craters and count how many craters you find in a range of diameter classes. One useful source is the (Kuiper et al, 2006). Make a histogram that shows the distribution of diameters. Most of these craters were formed during the first billion years of the Moon's formation, but you should confirm that this is true for the the Moon areas you've selected in your photographs by doing background research. Is cratering uniform across the surface of the…
Here's a project that combines sports and math. You'll learn how to use correlation analysis to choose the best team batting statistic for predicting run-scoring ability (Albert, 2003). You'll also learn how to use a spreadsheet to measure correlations between two variables.
Temperature also changes with latitude. As you move away from the equator, the temperature tends to decrease. Test this by comparing weather data from weather stations at different latitudes. (FI, 2006; GLOBE, 2006; NCAR, 2006; NOAA, 2006; Unisys, 2006; Weather Underground, 2006; WMO, 2006)
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…
Wind can make a cold day colder, or a hot day more pleasant. Use weather data to test the effect of wind on the temperature. How much of a change on the perceived temperature can the wind make? How is wind shear calculated? How can a wind barrier, like a wind breaker, keep you warm even if there is no insulating material? Build an instrument to measure wind speed or direction. (FI, 2006; GLOBE, 2006; NCAR, 2006; NOAA, 2006; Unisys, 2006; Weather Underground, 2006; WMO, 2006)
Did you know that you can make a simple hygrometer (a device for measuring the relative humidity of the air) with hair? This type of hygrometer is easy to build (for instructions, see: ). Does the type of hair used in the hygrometer affect the accuracy of the results? Do some types of hair respond faster than others? Do some types of hair give a larger (or smaller) response? You could get hair samples from classmates, or a local beauty shop. Use hair samples of equal length to construct…
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