You've seen for yourself, or in videos, planes flying, rockets hurdling towards space, boats racing through the water and submarines exploring the depths of the ocean. Have you ever stopped and thought about the aerodynamics and hydrodynamics involved in their operation? There is a lot of interesting science that goes into how they work! Check out these science and engineering projects to explore movement through air and water.
Helicopters are fascinating to watch. The spinning rotor blades on top of the helicopter generate lift, allowing it to take off vertically. They can land vertically, too, allowing them to set down in small spaces, such as hospital helipads or on a ship at sea. In this aerodynamics science fair project, you will fly a remote-controlled helicopter and measure how the rate of the rotor's rotation changes as the helicopter hovers and flies up or down.
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Average (6-10 days)
You will need a remote-controlled helicopter and a digital tachometer. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
High ($100 - $150)
Minor injury is possible. Be sure to wear safety goggles. Adult supervision is recommended.
A technique often used in wind tunnels is to introduce smoke in front of the airfoil that is being tested. The smoke comes from regularly-spaced point sources, and the wind flow in the tunnel spreads it out into parallel lines, called streamlines. The streamlines make it possible to visualize the airflow over the airfoil. When the lines continue smoothly over and past the airflow, they show that the flow remains laminar, and that the airfoil is creating very little drag. When the…
Try different wind turbine/propeller (chord length, pitch) designs by making models from balsa wood. Connect the spinning axle to a DC motor and measure the voltage produced across a resistor to measure power output. Use fan as wind source. (Judge, 2004)
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
Winglets are the short vertical "fins" at the wingtips of some airplanes. Have you ever wondered why they are there? If you have access to a wind tunnel, you can build model airfoils with and without winglets and see for yourself. If you're really ambitious, you can also build your own wind tunnel.
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Very Long (1+ months)
Experience building airfoils, access to a wind tunnel for testing.
Specialty Items (wind tunnel for testing airfoils)
You can find this page online at: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/aerodynamics-hydrodynamics?p=5
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