"Big data" is exactly what it sounds like, a really large amount of data. Science has always been at the forefront of gathering, visualizing, and trying to make sense of massive data sets. For example, think of the more than 661,000 (and counting) asteroids that have been discovered in our solar system. Or ponder that 1.2 million species have been caught, identified, classified, and catalogued on Earth. And then there are the approximately 3 billion base pairs sequenced from the human genome. Even before there was a term for it, scientists have been amassing and analyzing big data.

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Over time, viruses evolve. Their evolution is influenced by both neutral drift, the natural mutation rate of the virus, and selective pressure from the hosts' immune systems. Scientists study a virus's genomic evolution—the changes at the nucleotide and amino acid level—to better understand how the virus is spreading and the clinical implications. You can use public databases and tools to do the same type of tracking and analysis of COVID-19 that scientists around the world do. … Read more
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In a survey conducted from 2007 to 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 49% of people in the United States had taken at least one prescription drug during the past month, and about 22% of people had taken three or more prescription drugs. People are prescribed drugs all the time, but prescriptions can be dangerous because people can have different responses to drugs. These responses largely have to do with genetic mutations. Why are some genetic… Read more
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Remember going to the doctor and getting vaccine shots? It is no fun getting poked with a needle, but fortunately, a vaccine gives you protection against a serious illness for years to come. But what about the flu vaccine? How come there is a new one every year? This science fair project will show you why. Read more
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Would it surprise you to learn that no one knows the exact age of the universe? Astronomers have estimates, and as they gather increasingly precise data and measurements, they continue to refine those estimates to come up with more accurate estimates. In this project, you can look at data about stars in dense groups called globular clusters and come up with your own estimate for the minimum age of the universe. How closely will your estimate match those of other astronomers? Read more
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You've heard of gold mining and coal mining, but think outside the box...or the planet...what about asteroid mining? Scientists, engineers, and business people believe asteroid mining is feasible, and they are in the beginning stages of long-term plans to mine asteroids for valuable resources during space missions. You don't want to miss out on all the fun; in this science project, you will come up with your own scientific plan for an asteroid mining company. We will help get you started by… Read more
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Scientists recently found that some small drugs can stop infection by the deadly Ebola virus in its tracks. Lab researchers found that these drugs bind to a protein that the Ebola virus uses to enter our cells, and this is how infection is prevented. However, this also means that the bound protein no longer functions in our cells. How might these drugs accidentally disrupt important biological processes in our bodies? What other proteins might these drugs bind to? In this science project,… Read more
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Social media is all the buzz on the internet. What can we do with all the information generated by millions of people posting, tweeting, taking pictures, and chatting? How do companies convert it into profit? While you do not have the tools to analyze data from millions of social media posts by yourself, you will be able to analyze a scaled-down version. Follow the instructions in this project to try your hand at extracting data from a couple of social media sites and use it to create… Read more
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The Milky Way is the edgewise view of our home galaxy, a disk made up of billions of stars. The Sun resides on one of the spiral arms of the disk, 30,000 light-years from the thick hub of the galaxy. The actual center, with a black hole 3-4 million times the Sun's mass, is hidden by dust clouds in space. In this astronomy science fair project, you will use astronomical data to locate the center of this galaxy. Read more
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Extinct might be a word you associate with animals that lived long ago, like the dinosaurs, but did you know that over 18,000 species are classified as "threatened" (susceptible to extinction) today? Scientists involved in wildlife conservation have a tough job; they are in charge of determining what needs to be done to prevent a species from becoming extinct. Habitat, food supply, and impacts of local human populations are just a few of the factors these scientists take into account. It is a… Read more
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There is a lot of energy that can be harvested from moving water. Energy can be extracted from water rushing over a waterfall and from the regular patterns of the ocean's tides. The energy that propels waves forward in the oceans can also be extracted and used. But can wave energy power plants be built anywhere there is water? In this energy science fair project, you will use ocean buoy data and mathematics to determine which locations along the coasts of the United States can sustain a wave… Read more
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Free science fair projects.