|Go with the Flow|
Explore electrical connections, circuits, resistance, and output.
break and snow days often mean lots of time to fill. Instead of
switching on the TV, why not take something apart... tinker a bit... and
make some connections and discoveries
about how things work. Though you might find odds-and-ends electronics
in a catch-all drawer in your house, or in a box in the basement, you
can get started exploring circuits with the lamp in the living room! In
the Is This Connected to That? project, you'll build a simple circuit tester
and use it to see how electricity flows through a lamp. You'll also
investigate how the flow of electricity changes when you switch from a
standard light bulb to an energy-efficient light bulb. (Difficulty: 4-6)
Once you've got a handle on simple circuits, switches, and
conductors, put your tester to work on other things in your house. Just
be sure you follow all safety notes. In fact, why not read through our Electronics Primer first?
Dim the Lights with a #2 Pencil
A standard pencil puts a "point" on electrical resistance.
you turn your regular graphite pencil into a makeshift dimmer switch
for a household light, you'll immediately see the impact of resistance in an electrical circuit--and learn about Ohm's law. To explore the greener side of resistance,
ask yourself what happens to energy usage when you up the resistance
and keep the lights low. You can put your hypothesis to the test by
adapting the Sliding Light
project to measure energy usage so that you can correlate the
relationship between resistance and usage. Your holiday lights at home
would be a great place to start! (Difficulty: 6)
|A Taste for Soda|
Examine popular sodas for sugar content and pH levels.
Sugars are the invisible fillers in many popular drinks, from carbonated sodas to juices and sports beverages. Using a hydrometer
, you can measure the concentration of sugar in a solution
. Testing a range of sugar solutions in How Sweet It Is
will give you a concrete look at just "how much" sugar sweetens popular drinks. (Difficulty: 6)A Toothy Perspective
If pure sugar content leaves you in sugar overload, you can balance things out by testing and comparing pH levels in sodas, juices, and other common beverages
There's a range of acidity between battery acid and water, and, as your
dentist can confirm, pH levels of what you drink have an effect on
tooth enamel. Curious? Adapting the Make Your Own pH Paper
project, you can create your own testing strips and dip-test the pH
levels in a range of drinks. Where does your favorite fall? (Difficulty:
Your Own Secret Formula
The more science you apply to your soda, the more you might crave a glass of water instead! But if you're a die-hard fan of carbonation--
and are willing to taste-test your own concoctions--you might develop a new soda favorite in Shimmy, Shimmy Soda Pop
. Explore the relationship between baking soda, citric acid, and sugar
to find the perfect combination of sweet and fizzy. (Difficulty: 3)Let it Blow!
Need a way to use up all that soda after testing? The Coke® & Mentos®--Nucleation Goes Nuclear!
project can help! (Difficulty: 2-3)
|A "Greener" School Computer Lab?|
What are your school computers doing when you're not at school?
Winter break can be an excellent time to gather some "down-time" data that can be used in a project focused on simple but smart energy conservation. The Feel Free to Sleep at School...If You're a Computer!
abbreviated project idea can help you develop an exploration that could
boost your school's green savvy--and could save the school thousands
each year in power costs! (Difficulty: 6-9)
Closer to Home
How energy-hungry are your home systems?
Curious about how much power your home computer system sucks up? The Green Your PC: Help Your Computer Save Power project walks you through testing your computer. As you get a clearer view of your computer's energy-usage footprint,
you can make configuration changes to reduce the draw on your energy
bill. With monitoring and measuring tools in hand, you'll be able to
evaluate energy consumption throughout your house! (Difficulty: 5-6)
What's up with that cat's color? Feline Fur
Cats that display patchwork combinations of fur colors--black or brown and red or orange--are called tortoiseshell cats. The unique coloration of the tortoiseshell is a great example of genetics in action, starting with the fact that most "torties" are female.
There are three main
genes that determine feline fur color: the browning gene, the piebald
gene, and the orange gene. Explore the relationship between alleles and X
chromosomes in X-inactivation Marks the Spot for Cat Coat Color. (Difficulty: 7-8)
|Science Careers: In Demand|
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of science-related jobs will increase at a rate faster than the national average between now and 2016.
Our Science Careers page highlights careers that are--and will be--in demand according to BLS, until 2016. Here are just a few of the in-demand careers:
Investigating geometry and symmetry in photography Better Photos
you already bear the title of "family photographer," or you are
learning the ropes, improving your photographs can be as easy as
changing where you position the subject. In the Golden Rules of Photography project, you'll explore famous photos to see how the "Rule of Thirds" can change the impact of a photograph. For a more creative project, take your own sets of photos and then test viewer response! (Difficulty: 3)
When good chips go bad
Don't Eat That!
Monitoring the growth of mold on cheese might be too smelly, but if you can spare a few potato chips, you can investigate food spoiling
as your chips turn from crispy to rancid in the Have Your Chips Lost Their Chomp?
project. What happens when there is a chemical change
to the fats that give chips their crunch? (Difficulty: 4)
|Taking a Different Approach|
It might depend on your age
you are investigating sugar content in sodas or making dessert, you
might discover that opinions vary if you ask, "Is it sweet enough?" Some
of your tasters might find your sugar ratio just right. Others might
question if you forgot the sugar, and others might just grimace if
they think it is too sweet. The same kind of variance in taste buds
can apply to saltiness, too.
natural differences in individual palates, there might be a correlation
to how sensitive one's taste buds are to sugar and salt, and
to the age of the taster. You can explore this in the Old Salty project, which can be adapted to focus on sugar. Or investigate your overall taste bud sensitivity in Measuring Your Taste Threshold. (Difficulty: 5-7)
|Find the Perfect Science Project for You!|
Our Topic Selection Wizard
can help you find a science project that really fits your areas of interest and
meets science fair requirements. Give it a try today!
|Keep in Touch |
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