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Others Like “Hey Gear Heads! The Physics of Bicycle Gear Ratios”

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Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Are you a budding Marianne Vos or Greg LeMond? Are you into cycling and speed? Then this is the science fair project for you! In this science fair project, you will determine the best gear ratio for your bike, to get the highest speed after a curve and onto a straightaway. You will learn a lot about applied mechanics and gears, all while having fun riding your bike. Read more
ApMech_p043
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites You must be able to ride a bicycle and have access to a bike path.
Material Availability You must have access to a multi-speed bicycle and bicycling safety gear.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible. Wear all necessary bicycling safety gear, especially a helmet. Adult supervision is recommended.
Science Fair Project Idea
Music boxes, bicycles, and clocks all have one thing in common: GEARS! You might say that gears make the world turn, since they are in so many mechanical instruments. How do they work and how do you know which gears to use? Find out in this simple experiment. Read more
ApMech_p016
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail If you ride a bike, you probably know that you have to occasionally pump up the tires to keep them fully inflated. Over a long period of time, the tires slowly leak air, so their pressure will decrease. Have you ever noticed that it is actually harder to ride a bike when the tire pressure is too low? This is because the tires are a big factor in the rolling resistance of the bike. In this sports science project, you will measure how tire pressure affects the force required to move a bike. How… Read more
ApMech_p029
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires a bike with training wheels and a special spring scale to measure force. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Only do this science project in a safe area where there are no cars, like a playground or a sidewalk. Do not do this science project in a street or parking lot. The volunteer riding the bike must wear a bike helmet.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail "What?! Many of my toys are also machines?" That's right—simple machines! Simple machines are everywhere! Under your feet when you climb stairs, in your hand when you use a utensil to eat your dinner, even in your arm when you throw a ball. Come visit this science fair project and explore the six types of simple machines. Find out how many are hiding under the hinged lid (yes, another simple machine) of your toy box! Read more
ApMech_p042
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail If you like to play Tetris, then you might like this project. You will learn something interesting about the mathematics of complex shapes as you try to prove Pick's Theorem. The strange shape below is an example of a lattice polygon, which is a polygon whose vertices lie on points in the plane that have integer coordinates. As you can see, it is a complex shape, but there is an easy way to calculate its area, by simply counting lattice points! If you count the number of lattice points on… Read more
Math_p009
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate… Read more
HumBio_p005
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair 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)
Science Fair Project Idea
For this project, you'll use a baseball as a pendulum weight, studying the motion of the ball with and without spin. Wrap a rubber band around the ball, and tie a string to the rubber band. Fasten the string so that the ball hangs down and can swing freely. Mark a regular grid on cardboard, and place it directly beneath the ball to measure the motion. You can also time the oscillations with a stopwatch. Lift the ball along one of the grid axes, and let it go. Observe the motion and record… Read more
Sports_p022
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
How does ski wax affect the sliding friction of skis? You can model this with an ice cube sliding down a plank: how high do you need to lift the end of the plank before the ice cube starts to slide? Try this with one side plain wood and the flip side waxed wood (use paraffin wax, candle wax or ski wax). Make sure both sides are equally smooth to start with. Do at least three trials. More advanced: using what you know about the forces acting on the ice cube, derive equations to calculate the… Read more
ApMech_p031
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Science Fair Project Idea
How high can you throw different types of balls, like a golf ball, a basketball, and a football? Would one of them go higher than the others? Do factors like mass, shape, and volume influence the final height? You can measure the approximate maximum height a thrown ball reaches by measuring the time it spends in the air. To do this project, you'll need at least one ball and a helper with a stopwatch. Your helper should start timing just as you release the ball, and stop right when the ball… Read more
Sports_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
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