Geologists study the Earth, trying to understand the forces that gradually shape and change the landscape and ocean floor, as well as forces that make themselves felt more suddenly, like earthquakes and volcanoes. The information geologist discover helps in many ways, from keeping populations safe from disasters like landslides to uncovering important ore deposits like titanium used for surgical equipment.

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Have you ever stood close to a fossilized T. rex skull and counted its razor-sharp teeth? Or, have you seen a fossilized stegosaurus skeleton and thought about how it defended itself with tail spikes and armored plates? A trip to a natural history museum lets you imagine what dinosaurs looked like and wonder what life with them on Earth was like. Fossils give us information about animals and plants that lived long ago. Certain places around the world contain more fossils than others. Why?… Read more
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When an earthquake happens, how are scientists able to determine the original location of the quake? In this project, you'll use archived data from a network of seismometers to find out for yourself. You'll create your own seismograms from the comfort of your own computer with an easy-to-use webpage interface. Then you'll analyze your seismograms to determine the distance of the quake from each seismometer station. By mapping your analyzed data, you will be able to determine the location of the… Read more
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Often, when we think of something that is solid we think about rocks. But in reality, rocks have tiny holes of air inside them. This is called porosity. In this science project you can find out what it means to be "solid as a rock!" Read more
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Did you know that waves travel through the Earth's crust all the time? One major source of these waves is earthquakes, although ground motion can also be caused by something man-made, such as a mine blast or nuclear explosion, or other natural events, such as landslides or volcanic activity. How does an earthquake cause these waves? The entire outer shell of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is made up of tectonic plates that are constantly moving. There are seven or eight large… Read more
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Did you ever notice the cool patterns around your footprints when you take a walk in the wet sand at the beach? The pressure of your feet has effects far outside your footprints. Here's a project that uses a simple experimental apparatus to investigate how the volume of wet sand changes under pressure. Read more
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Make your own fertile soil using kitchen scraps, manure, leaves, grass clippings, and other compostable materials. Which materials make the best compost? How does the amount of nitrogen change the rate at which the compost forms? How does a 'hot' compost pile compare to a 'cold' compost pile, or how does traditional composting compare to worm composting, or vermiculture? Figure 1. Different composting methods yield different soils. In this picture, the soil on the… Read more
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Visit the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program to find out about global patterns of earthquake incidents (USGS, 2006). Can mapping earthquakes help identify fault lines? They also have a list of science fair project ideas. Another great resource for earthquake-oriented science fair projects is by Jeffery Barker (Barker, 1994). Build a model to study the forces of an earthquake using sandpaper-covered blocks. What are the forces involved? How are stress and friction in balance along a fault line?… Read more
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When an earthquake occurs, seismic shock waves travel out through the earth from the source of the event. The shock waves travel through the earth or along the Earth's surface, and can be recorded at remote monitoring stations. Some of the waves that travel through the earth are blocked or refracted by the Earth's liquid core, which means that monitoring stations located certain distances from the earthquake do not detect these waves. This creates a "seismic shadow" that you can use to… Read more
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Minerals are sometimes precious, like diamonds. But most minerals are very common, like sodium, which is found in salt. How are minerals found and identified? How are our mineral resources distributed? Visit the USGS Mineral Resource Program to find mineral resources in your state. How are satellite images used to identify potential mineral sources? You can also find out how minerals are identified using spectroscopy. How are potentially harmful minerals, like mercury, dealt with? Visit the… Read more
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Our home, Earth, is a living planet. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are proof that the geological forces that shaped our planet and created the land masses are ongoing. An amazing example of geologic activity that is less damaging is a geyser. In this geology science fair project, you will build a model geyser and determine how depth of the source affects how the water is ejected. By the end of this project, you will know a lot more about geysers and understand that a geyser is much more… Read more
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Free science fair projects.