Is there a correlation between birth order and grade point average? Design a survey study to find out. How many completed surveys do you need for a representative sample of your school? If you limit your survey to one school, would you expect it to be representative of a larger population (such as your county or state?) How do you control for potential effects of parental age at birth? (In other words, younger siblings will have a higher probability of being born to older parents. If there…
Here's a project that combines sports and math. You'll learn how to use correlation analysis to choose the best team batting statistic for predicting run-scoring ability (Albert, 2003). You'll also learn how to use a spreadsheet to measure correlations between two variables. Which Team Batting Statistic Predicts Run Production Best?
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 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)
This project asks the question "How do friendship groups change over time?" The results may support inferences about how "people skills" develop. What types of changes would you expect to see? Do you expect friendship groups to grow larger over time? Do you expect that individuals will belong to more, less or about the same number of friendship groups as they get older? Do you think there will be more or less exclusivity among groups (and how would you measure such a concept)? Do you…
How well do adults understand basic science concepts? This project is a good opportunity for you to test your own scientific understanding as you create a short test to assess knowledge of basic science concepts. Your test will have to brief (probably 10–15 questions, maximum) or you'll have a hard time getting a sufficient number of complete responses. With so few questions, you'll have to think carefully about exactly what comprises "basic science knowledge," and exactly how to word your…
Has your house (or one of your friend's houses) been remodeled recently? Were any improvements made for energy efficiency (solar systems, better insulation, passive solar heating, better lighting)? Compare your family's energy costs for a similar time period before and after the remodeling (remember that energy usage often varies seasonally). Monthly bills often have a bar graph showing energy usage for the previous 12 months. You may also be able to get information on past energy usage…
There are many types of construction materials used for wood-frame houses. Compare the different uses for and strengths of different building materials, e.g.: particle board,
plywood, pine, oriented strand board (OSB), and drywall (gypsum board, SheetRock). The Science Buddies Materials Science Resource Stress, Strength and Strain will be helpful for learning about different ways to measure material strength. You should be sure to use the same cross-sectional area of each material in order…
Antioxidants have become very popular in the news lately for their potential health and anti-aging properties. Antioxidants work by preventing oxidation reactions that produce free-radicals which can cause harm to the body. Try testing different vitamins for antioxidant activity. How do vitamins A, B, C, and E compare? Do some vitamins have more antioxidant activity than others? What are some other sources of antioxidants? Try testing extracts from proposed sources of antioxidants like coffee,…
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Short (2-5 days)
Low ($20 - $50)
Adult supervision is recommended. Use caution when using sharp knives and do not eat any of your experiments.
How accurately can people identify the location of a sound source when blindfolded? Imagine the hemisphere of space that extends above your shoulders at arm's length. Divide that hemisphere up into regular sectors and test the ability of blindfolded test subjects to point to a remembered sound source. For example, you could use the beep from a timer held at each test location, and then have the test subject point to where they think the timer was located. Record the magnitude and direction of…
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