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Project Idea
Do you ever go camping with your family and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire? If you want your campfire to burn long into the evening, what is the best wood to use? Do research on the necessary conditions/materials to sustain a fire and on the properties of different types of wood. Which properties do you think will be most important for determining how fast the wood burns? For example, how do you think density would be related to burning rate? Why? Measure the density and… Read more
MatlSci_p026
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Safety Adult supervision required.
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
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
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
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
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
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
When pesticides are applied to protect crops, run-off of potentially harmful pesticides is a major problem. Can water plants such as hardstem bulrush, common cattail, parrotfeather and smooth scouring rush promote pesticide breakdown? If so, diversion of irrigation run-off into plant-filled ponds could help reduce pesticide pollution. Mix malathion at 12.5% of the recommended application strength (to simulate dilution by rain or irrigation water). Use 5-gallon buckets for testing various… Read more
EnvEng_p019
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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
Have you ever set up a line of dominoes and watched them fall? If you wanted to make your line of dominoes fall faster, do you think you should set the dominoes up with more or less space between them? Set your dominoes up in a straight line, using a ruler to keep the spacing between them constant. Try different spacings at 0.5 cm increments. Conduct multiple trials at each spacing, and time how long it takes for a fixed total length of dominoes to fall (e.g., a 1.5 or 3.0 meter length of… Read more
ApMech_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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