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Project Idea
What are the best materials to use for blocking out unwanted noise from the environment? You can build a test box (or test frame) around an audio speaker. Use a sound level meter to measure the speaker output. Use different materials to cover the walls of your test box (or frame), and see which materials do the best job at blocking the sound. For a more advanced project, perform your tests using different sound frequencies. Are some materials better at blocking certain frequencies than… Read more
MatlSci_p033
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Here's a project idea for all of you bakers out there. What happens if you try your favorite muffin recipe with different types of flour (e.g., white, whole wheat, rye, soy, etc.)? Think of ways you can measure the results. How would you measure the density of a muffin? A kitchen scale would definitely be useful for this project, both for measuring the results and for portioning out the batter for equal-sized muffins. What other measures might be of interest? (Nakajima, 2005) Read more
MatlSci_p029
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Does adhesive tape hang tight at different temperatures? Measure the adhesive strength of tape at both low and high temperatures. To raise the temperature, we suggest using a blow dryer at both low and high heat settings. To lower the temperature, use an ice pack (try to keep condensation from forming on the tape and confounding the results). For even lower temperatures you could try "dry ice" (frozen carbon dioxide), if available. (Wear heavy gloves when handling dry ice, because it can… Read more
MatlSci_p031
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
If you like to fish and you'd rather not be telling the story of "the one that got away," then this is a project for you. What combination of properties makes for the best fishing line? Here are some suggestions for getting started on your background research into fishing line properties: knot strength, abrasion strength, shock strength, tensile strength, limpness, controlled stretch, and desired range of visibility (Dodson, 2006). Choose the properties that you think are most important, and… Read more
MatlSci_p028
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
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: http://www.fi.edu/weather/todo/hygrometer.html). 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… Read more
MatlSci_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Plastics are made of polymers, chemical structures containing many repeated subunits. How does the polymer type of a plastic affect the biodegradability of the plastic? Do research on how plastic is made and what types of polymers are used for making different plastics. Can you learn to make your own plastic? What materials can you use for making plastic that is biodegradable? Test biodegradability by burying plastic samples for different lengths of time. (Kadar, 2004) Reducing solid waste… Read more
MatlSci_p034
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Project Idea
How much force is required to advance a lag bolt (large wood screw with a hex-shaped head) into a piece of wood? You can measure the force by using a spring scale attached to the handle of ratchet. Pull on the spring scale until the bolt starts to turn, and note the required force from the spring scale. There are many potential experiments you could try. Think about answering the following questions: How does the force change as the bolt advances deeper into the wood? Why? How does the… Read more
ApMech_p032
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Time Required Short (2-5 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
Try different wind turbine/propeller (chord length, pitch) designs by making models from balsa wood. Connect the spinning axle to a DC motor and measure the voltage produced across a resistor to measure power output. Use fan as wind source. (Judge, 2004) Read more
Aero_p029
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
Yeast contains an enzyme, called catalase, that acts as a catalyst for the reaction that breaks down hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water (2H2O2  → 2H2O + O2). Safety note: oxygen is a highly reactive gas, adult supervision recommended for this project. For your background research, be sure that you understand substrate, catalyst, reaction rate, catalase, enzyme saturation and protein denaturation. Use a solution of 3% H2O2 for the substrate. Construct an apparatus that allows you to… Read more
Chem_p040
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Safety Adult supervision is recommended for this project.
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