Is winning correlated with fun? Pick a video game which has different difficulty settings, for example easy versus hard mode. Ask volunteers who have never played the game before to try it out. Some of them should use the easy mode and others should use the hard mode, this will ensure that you have a range in the amount of winning and losing among your volunteers. Keep track of how much each player is winning. Survey the volunteers to find out if they like the game. Do people who win more like…
Students who are mathematically inclined can use the student version of a program like MatLab or Mathematica to convert a digital image into numbers, then perform operations such as sharpening or special effects. This is a great way to learn about image processing algorithms.
Are there some songs that always make you feel sad when you hear them? How about "Scarborough
Fair," George Gershwin's "Summertime," or the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby"? All of these songs are in a minor key. Minor keys have more intervals, or halftones, than major keys do. Some musicologists (people who study music) maintain that minor-key songs are more likely to be perceived as sad, while major-key songs are more likely to be interpreted as happy. You can research the competing explanations…
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You should know how to convert a simple song from a major key to a minor key, or know an experienced musician or music teacher who can help you with the conversions.
If you like to bake, this might be an interesting project for you. When you're following a recipe, do you ever wonder why certain ingredients keep showing up time after time (e.g., baking powder in quick breads)? Do you notice that certain ingredients tend to occur in a particular ratio to one another (e.g., amount of shortening and sugar, or amount of shortening and flour, or number of eggs and amount of flour)? What happens if you use more or less of an ingredient than the recipe calls…
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal near Falkirk in central Scotland. It consists of two diametrically opposed caissons which rotate to lift boats between the two canals through a height of 35 meters. The wheel is always perfectly balanced and, despite its enormous mass, rotates through 180° in less than four minutes, using just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Do background research to find out how much energy…
Think about mountain ranges, canyons, sand dunes, or any other interesting geological feature you may live near enough to visit. The surface of the Earth is always changing due to a balance of forces both above and below the surface. Below-surface forces cause the Earth's crust to be faulted, folded, tilted, and lifted. Above-surface forces are primarily due to the natural processes of weathering and erosion. Can you show the effects of these forces using scale models, demonstrations,…
The concept of beauty changes over time and often differs among societal groups. How strongly do societal conceptions of beauty shape an individual's self-image? There are many fascinating questions you could choose to explore with surveys on this subject. For example, how well do girls' ideas of what is attractive in boys agree with boys' expectations about what girls find attractive (or vice versa)? Try your survey with different generations to see how conceptions change over time. If you…
Here's an astronomy project idea from Dr. James Pierce, a professor in the Astronomy Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato: "Determine the length of twilight at different times of the year by observing the time at which certain bright stars first appear and comparing with the sunset time. Beware of variations due to stars appearing at different altitudes. Try using Polaris as a standard. Also note the time at which automatic streetlights turn on. Determine how soon after sunset stars…
Here's a project that will give you insight into accidents, and maybe help you prevent them. The original project used a survey method to gather data, which you could also do. Another approach for data collection that you might try would be to use published articles from the pediatric medical literature. Finding a pediatrician or pediatric orthopedist who is willing to be your mentor for this project would be helpful. (Idea from Caito, 2003)
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