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Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby priyankaL » Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:57 pm

Hi there!
I am interested in doing a project for my local science fair (in hopes of qualifying for the intel isef) and i was wondering if I could get a bit of help with it.
Some information on my project:
I am at home due to the covid-19 pandemic and my school is closed so I can’t use the lab. I was thinking of reaching out to a mentor at a local university but I have a parent who works there and it seems like all labs for nonessential research are closed. Therefore, I have to do something that is allowed at home.
I was thinking of doing something related to bacteria, but I am having a hard time figuring out what would be allowed. Are there any types of bacteria that could be a good starting point for a winning project that can be used at home and following the rules on potentially hazardous substances?
Another idea that I had was doing something related to masks in the covid-19 pandemic like mask effectiveness or something similar, some sort treatment for covid-19 (but that seems like a stretch) or a study on the effect of virtual learning on students (that is suitable for an advanced high school science competition)
I have a few questions:
1. Are there any strands of bacteria that could be a good starting point to base a project around that can be used at home?
2. do you have any other ideas about projects related to the covid-19 pandemic?
3. How could I test mask efficiency? Is there any way that I could scientifically test the amount of particles that get through the mask?
4. how would you advise going about doing something with a treatment for covid-19? How would I start?
5. If somehow I would be able to figure out how to make my own covid-19 test and see if it is accurate (or just design it without actually producing it), could this be considered a project? Is this an achievable goal? Is it even possible to do this at home?
6. other suggestions/ideas are welcomed :)

Thank you!

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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby EricBebenov24 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:06 pm

Hello there!

All three of your ideas seem very interesting! You could definitely research a little bit further to come up with something more specific you want to base your project on! I would suggest choosing one of your three topics (bacteria, COVID-19 prevention, or the effect of virtual learning on students) and coming up with the different variables that could be part of your experiment, making use of the scientific method.

To answer your questions:

1. Here is a Science Buddies link ( ... crobiology) that will take you to a page about Growing Microbes on Agar Plates. There are projects that include the usage of E. coli Bacteria , yeast bacteria, and anti-microbial agents. I think it will be easier if you think about a science project that could use bacteria, and then we can come up with the bacteria that will work best for your experiment!

2. Here is a science Buddies link ( ... s-covid-19) that contains project ideas relating to COVID-19.

3. If you take a look at this link ( it will take you to a detailed study about filtration efficiency through masks. It even contains en experiment that compares an N95 respirator filter mask with face masks made out of regular cloth. The % penetration of an aerosol (NaCl polydisperse) was calculated to determine the efficiency of each mask type, with graphs and charts to illustrate their findings. I suggest you look into this for further detail on mask efficiency!

4. To go about doing something for treating COVID-19, I would suggest looking into your community first and taking notice of the extent of the virus. You can speak to someone about what measures are taken to minimize the spread of the virus (like a community board member) and how effective these measures have been with respect to your community. If you see room for improvement, you can even propose an idea that could hopefully not be limited for implementation just to your community but other surrounding regions/counties as well. This leans more towards what can be done to limit the spread of the virus, but for actually treating it, you might want to reach out to a medical professional that can give you more detailed information. What I do know is that treatment of COVID-19 is limited at the moment and most techniques are geared towards treating symptoms. A lot of the research for treatment is done in specialized laboratories and clinics which might be limited to the public.

5. Here is a Science Buddies link that takes you to a page describing the scientific method ( ... fic-method). This page can guide you through the process of testing/setting up a proposed experiment. If you do come up with a design for a COVID-19 test, try to run it through the scientific method and see if it can be turned into an experiment.

6. It seems like you have a lot of ideas going on! If you can just center yourself to one topic/idea, I think that will help me assist you better in detail. Identify what resources you have available and then choose a project that can best make use of these resources in your community.

I hope this helps and if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to ask!


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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby priyankaL » Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:24 am

Thank you for your response. I have been investigating other options for projects and my parents suggested that I do a project on solar energy because we have solar panels on our roof. The system has an app where you can track how much energy you have harnessed from the solar cells that day, energy use, etc. I was wondering if there are any project ideas that would be feasible with the system that I could do. I was thinking of something related to the amount of ultraviolet radiation and its effect on the efficiency of the solar cells, designing an eco-friendly home (with solar panels, grey water recycling, biofuel, etc.), or comparing solar power to other green energy sources.
Could you help me come up with a few good project ideas related to these? I would like a project that is challenging and innovative, but possible.
Thank you

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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby kgrivera » Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:21 pm


You've brought up some intriguing project ideas that are great starting points for coming up with a project! I would like to point out that using a roof solar panel has both benefits and drawbacks. It's great that you have an app that records data about energy harnessed, energy use among other things. However, if you're trying to conduct an experiment with the roof solar panels, it may be difficult to control some of the variables in the experiment (like light intensity, time of light exposure, temperature, etc.).

With regards to your first project idea concerning UV light and solar cell efficiency, I would suggest that you read through these two Science Buddies projects that relate to the effect of temperature on solar cell power output ( and light intensity ( These two projects may give you some ideas on further developing your own project.

For the eco-friendly home project idea, I would suggest researching the different environmentally friendly innovations and rank their feasibility to implement into a home design. If you can come up an idea of what you would want to accomplish with this project idea, I'll be able to help you to develop this project more. Similarly, for your last project idea, I recommend that you spend a little time researching other green energy sources. You mentioned that you picked solar energy because you have access to solar panels at your house so would you need to buy or build something to use other green energy sources in your project?

If you decide to go for a solar energy project, you may want to ask these questions in the physical science forum ( since energy is related to the physical sciences not the life sciences.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more questions!

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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby priyankaL » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:36 pm

Thank you for replying. I have decided to do an investigation on the effects of ultraviolet light on solar cells (option 1) or a combination of that and the eco friendly house (option 2), but I have a few questions. To determine the amount of ultraviolet light, I was thinking of using a website (such as a local news and weather station) as my data source because the more effective uv light meters are expensive. However, I don't know where I can find a website that shows UV light amount in mW/cm^2 instead of as a uv index for scientific purposes. Does anyone know where I could find a website for this purpose?
Also, I was thinking of measure the intensity of the incoming light, perhaps using a photographic light meter. How could I integrate this into my project if I pick option 1?
If I were to pick option 2, how would you suggest going about the scientific method? Or would this be more suitable for the engineering design process?
If I were to pick option 1, do you think this is a good topic that could qualify for isef? or would I have a better chance with option 2?
So here are my questions:
1. what website has uv light in mW/cm^2?
2. how to integrate the intensity of then light into option 1
3. scientific method or engineering design process? (for option 2)
4. how to design scientific method for option 1?
5. how to design scientific method or engineering design process for option 2?
6. which option would be better?
7. I have to define the "problem" that I am trying to solve. What would be the problem for both?
8. how would I determine the internal resistance of the solar cell? Is the internal resistance constant, or does it vary with incident light intensity?

thank you so much!

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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby priyankaL » Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:13 pm

Also, two things:
If I wanted to compare the efficiency of solar power to another renewable energy source, which would be more easy to work with (in terms of being able to standardize measurements on both)?
I know this is the life, earth and social sciences forum so if this is not supposed to be here can someone move the whole topic to the physical sciences forum? Thanks

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Re: Help needed ASAP! Project for science fair

Postby hummch » Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:23 pm

Hi PriyankaL,

Sorry for the delay! I am not able to answer your UV specific questions, but hopefully, someone else in this forum can!

But, in regards to your questions about the scientific method versus the engineering design process, this will depend on whether you alter the panels or build something. If you do not need to build or alter anything majorly, the scientific method should work well for your project. Start by asking yourself why you are interested in this experiment and what you are hoping to learn from it. This will help you figure out your 'problems' for whichever experiment you decide to do. For example, why would we need to know the effects of ultraviolet light on solar cells, and is it causing negative or positive effects if any? Here is the link to the Science Buddies guide for the Scientific Method: ... ience-fair

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions in regards to the scientific method.

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