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Project Idea
Some plastics undergo an unusual transition, from a hard, glassy state to a soft, rubbery state, with increased temperature. For this project, you should do background research on the effects of temperature on different types of plastics. Make sure that you understand the difference between thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers. You should also look for information on the glass transition temperature (Tg) for different plastics. Pure polyvinyl acetate has a Tg of 28°C (about 82°F). You… Read more
Chem_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Safety Adult supervision required for experiments using boiling water.
Project Idea
There are three different kinds of polymers used for kitchen plastic wrap: low density polyethylene (LDPE) (e.g., Handiwrap or Glad Wrap), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (e.g., Reynolds PVC Foodservice Wrap or Boardwalk PVC Food Wrap Film) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) (e.g., Saran Wrap, which is almost 90% polyvinylidene chloride). Which of these materials is least permeable to water vapor? Or, in other words, which of these materials will best prevent evaporation? Do background research on… Read more
Chem_p032
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Material Availability Some types of plastic wraps may need to be specially ordered. Various PVC wraps are available through Amazon.
Project Idea
There are three different kinds of polymers used for kitchen plastic wrap: low density polyethylene (LDPE) (e.g., Handiwrap or Glad Wrap), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (e.g., Reynolds PVC Foodservice Wrap or Boardwalk PVC Food Wrap Film) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC)(e.g., Saran Wrap, which is almost 90% polyvinylidene chloride). Which of these materials is least permeable to oxygen? When you slice an apple, the surface of the slice turns brown as the apple is oxidized. Can plastic wrap seal… Read more
Chem_p033
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Material Availability Some types of plastic wraps may need to be specially ordered. Various PVC wraps are available through Amazon.
Project Idea
Disposable diapers contain a polymer, called sodium acrylate, which is useful for absorbing water. Do background research to learn about sodium acrylate, and how it reacts with water. Make sure that you understand the terms hydrophilic, polarity and hydrogen bonding. Cut out the middle, padded section of a disposable diaper. Cut this into equally-sized square pieces, approximately 10–12 cm on a side. Remove some of the stuffing material so that you can staple the open ends closed. Measure… Read more
Chem_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
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
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
Music has many mathematical elements in it: rhythm, pitch, scale, frequency, interval, and ratio. There are many ways to turn these elements into a science fair project. You can investigate how the scale is based upon a special type of number sequence called a Harmonic Series. Another scale used by Bach, called the "Well-Tempered-Scale" or the "Equal-Tempered-Scale", is based upon a series. How are these mathematical series and ratios related to notes, chords, intervals, and octaves? You can… Read more
Math_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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
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,… Read more
Geo_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
You've seen that a magnet's attractive force can cause a small object (like a paper clip) to "jump" to the magnet. So a magnetic field can act through the air, but what about other materials? Here's an experiment you can do to find out. You'll need a strong bar magnet, a stack of books, a paper clip, some thread and tape. Place the bar magnet underneath the top book in your stack, so that it sticks out. Tie a piece of thread (as long as the stack of books is high) to a paper clip. You… Read more
Elec_p042
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
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