The human population on Earth is now more than 7.5 billion, and growing quickly. With more and more of us living an energy-intensive, modern lifestyle, the environmental stresses from human activity continue to increase. Greenhouse gases leading to global warming and fertilizer runoff resulting in marine "dead zones" are just two examples of large-scale environmental impacts from human activity. Try one of our environmental engineering projects to see how science, engineering and technology can help us take good care of our environment while still enjoying the comforts of a modern lifestyle.
Did you know that there is plastic in the ocean? It probably isn't too hard to imagine that some of the plastic that litters roadways, sidewalks, and parks finds its way into the ocean. So, how much do you think is in there? Hundreds of pounds of plastic? How about thousands of pounds? No one knows for sure, but estimates, based on scientific surveys, suggest the amount is in the range of millions of pounds of plastic! Of course, the ocean is big, over 300 million square kilometers, so…
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Average (6-10 days)
To do this science project you will need access to an urban or suburban community. Rural communities may not be suitable for this project as they are unlikely to have a stormwater drainage system.
See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Low ($20 - $50)
Use caution when using the utility knife. Adult supervision is recommended.
Is there a public park, playground, or beach near you that suffers from a litter problem? Here is a way that you can do something about it! First, get a measure of the size of the problem by conducting a litter survey. Select a fraction of the area to survey at regular intervals (e.g., every two or three days, or maybe once a week). The area should be large enough so that you can get a representative sample of litter, but not so large that you can't clean it up. Each time you conduct your…
Reclaimed (treated) wastewater can be used for many purposes, including landscape watering and freeing up valuable fresh water for other purposes (like drinking water). It's a great way to conserve water, but is it really safe? This science fair project is designed to find out.
Has your house (or one of your friend's houses) been remodeled recently? Were any improvements made for energy efficiency (solar systems, better insulation, passive solar heating, better lighting)? Compare your family's energy costs for a similar time period before and after the remodeling (remember that energy usage often varies seasonally). Monthly bills often have a bar graph showing energy usage for the previous 12 months. You may also be able to get information on past energy usage…
Did you know that you can use more water on your lawn and garden in the summer than you use for all other purposes all year long? If you have an automated sprinkler system for your lawn and/or garden, this project could save money on your family's monthly water bill. You'll also be helping to conserve a precious natural resource: clean water.
How can seawater from the oceans be turned into fresh water that is suitable for people to drink? Through a process called solar desalination! In this science project, you will make a solar desalination apparatus using readily available materials, and a power source that is free. How much water can the device produce, and is it still salty at all? What factors affect how effectively saltwater is turned into fresh water?
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Short (2-5 days)
Some specialty items needed, see Materials list for details.
For your convenience a kit is available for purchase from our partner .
Average ($50 - $100)
A hand drill is needed for some steps. Adult assistance is needed for the steps involving a hand drill.
All items in the Science Buddies Kit come pre-drilled, eliminating this safety issue.