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Others Like “The Leaning Tower of Pasta”

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Science Fair Project Idea
Ever try to tear a telephone book in half? Even though you can easily rip one or a few pages to shreds, the entire phone book has strength in numbers and holds together. This project is an introduction to measuring and comparing the strength of materials. Does spaghetti get extra strength if you bundle it together, or does strength simply increase proportionally with the number of strands? If you are interested in materials testing, get cracking! Read more
MatlSci_p010
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- Less Details
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Build model bridges and then deliberately destroy them? Who'd be crazy enough to try that? Read more
CE_p011
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- Less Details
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Most items can be obtained locally but may require visiting multiple stores.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Is an I-beam as strong as a solid beam of the same size? What if you include weight in the comparison: which beam has the greater strength-to-weight ratio? Would an I-beam be stronger than a solid rectangular beam of the same weight? What about other structural shapes (e.g., T-beams, U-beams)? In this project you can find out by setting up a test stand, putting on your safety goggles and measuring how much stress these building components can handle before they snap. Read more
MatlSci_p011
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- Less Details
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible: Wear safety glasses when testing beam capacity. Keep hands and feet clear of the area underneath the weight bucket, which may fall at any time.
Science Fair Project Idea
A bridge collapse, like that of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge, can be a major disaster. Bridges that cannot hold enough weight to do their intended job can be a serious public safety issue. And if they collapse, they can also cause economic damage due to costly rebuilding and people and companies scrambling to figure out how to circumvent the months of traffic impacts. Figure 1. On August 1, 2007 the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapsed killing 13 people and injuring 140… Read more
CE_p024
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- Less Details
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability A kit for this project is available from .
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
This is an interesting project that explores which geometrical shapes make the strongest bridge truss structures. It is a good introduction to the engineering design process. You'll design three different trusses, and use online simulation software to analyze the distribution of load-bearing forces in each design. Then you'll build and test prototypes of each design. Read more
CE_p006
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Excellent computer skills, high school physics course
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Use caution with sharp tools when cutting wooden parts to size. Adult supervision recommended for bridge-testing phase.
Science Fair Project Idea
If you love to hit the half pipe with your snowboard or skateboard, then you have tested the strength and durability of laminates. Laminates are sandwiches of different materials that are glued together in layers to give strength and flexibility to an object. In this experiment, you can test if laminating wood can make it stronger and able to support a heavier load. How much weight can it take before it breaks? Read more
MatlSci_p008
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- Less Details
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Requires adult supervision with glue and cutting wood.
Science Fair Project Idea
Try gluing wood together with different types of glue, e.g.: regular white glue, yellow wood glue, cyanoacrylate (super glue), and Liquid Nails. Glue a short piece (5-8 cm) to the center of a longer piece (15-30 cm). After the glue has dried for the recommended time, drill a small hole through the center of the joint, big enough to pass through a piece of coat-hanger wire. Cut a length of coat hanger wire, pass it through the hole, and twist the ends together to form a loop. Place the ends… Read more
CE_p021
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Skyscrapers are impressive structures. What does it take to design a building so tall? Engineers use strong materials and innovative design to push the limits of gravity. In this experiment you will use LEGO® components, rubber balls, and a 3-ring binder. Read more
CE_p013
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- Less Details
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Predict how tall you can build a tower using only two sheets of newspaper as building material. You can't use tape, glue, staples, or anything else, just two sheets of newspaper. You can tear, bend, cut, or fold the newspaper. Try it out and see how close you can come to your prediction. Can you beat your prediction? As you're building, you may come up with ideas to make a better tower. Try them out! (It's not like the materials are expensive!) Here are some variations you might want to… Read more
CE_p016
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
Bridges are big and beautiful structures, but they also need to be safe for the people who cross over them every day. Building a bridge that is safe and secure is a challenge to civil engineers. But the job is even more challenging if you live in earthquake country! Find out how engineers are solving this problem as they build a new bridge over the San Francisco Bay in California. Try some of your own Bay Bridge designs. Will your bridge design take the shake of a quake? Read more
CE_p012
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- Less Details
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
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