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Sandra Slutz, PhD, Staff Scientist, Science Buddies Kenneth L. Hess, Founder and President, Science Buddies All experimental observations are a combination of signal, the true effect of a variable on an outcome, and noise, the random error inherent in your experimental technique. When designing and analyzing experiments, the goal is to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio so that you can draw accurate conclusions. Six common means of increasing the signal-to-noise ratio are: Making… Read more
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What is a servo motor? Servo motors (or servos) are self-contained electric devices (see Figure 1 below) that rotate or push parts of a machine with great precision. Servos are found in many places: from toys to home electronics to cars and airplanes. If you have a radio-controlled model car, airplane, or helicopter, you are using at least a few servos. In a model car or aircraft, servos move levers back and forth to control steering or adjust wing surfaces. By rotating a shaft connected to… Read more
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Introduction Knowing which chemical to buy and where to purchase it can be a confusing part of preparing for your science fair project. This guide will help you navigate some of those challenges. Read more
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"Battery." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1990. "Best Batteries." Consumer Reports Magazine 32 Dec. 1994: 71-72. Booth, Steven A. "High-Drain Alkaline AA-Batteries." Popular Electronics 62 Jan. 1999: 58. Brain, Marshall. "How Batteries Work." howstuffworks. 1 Aug. 2006        <http://home.howstuffworks.com /battery.htm>. "Cells and Batteries." The DK Science Encyclopedia. 1993. Dell, R. M., and D. A. J.… Read more
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This tutorial provides a basic summary of linear and nonlinear springs and their associated equations for force, stiffness, and potential energy. You will need a basic understanding of calculus (integrals and derivatives) to understand the section on nonlinear springs. Definitions A linear spring is one with a linear relationship between force and displacement, meaning the force and displacement are directly proportional to each other. A graph showing force vs. displacement for a linear spring… Read more
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Scratch Tutorial Note This user guide was written for Scratch version 1.4, which is available at the Scratch 1.4 download page. Additional tutorials are available on the download page. Information about the most recent version of Scratch is available at the MIT Scratch website. One fun feature of Scratch is that you can easily add any images and text that you want to your program. Do you want to draw a new Scratch cartoon character directly on the computer? Or add real photos of… Read more
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How to Find Information No matter how you do your background research, record your sources and take good notes as you go. Your teacher may be able to offer you some tips. Library Research One of the most valuable resources at the library is not a book, but a person. Public librarians, college librarians and certified school librarians are specially trained to teach information literacy. Librarians are excellent sources for organizing research, for teaching how to search, how to read and use… Read more
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Defining "Best" Once you have created a number of possible solutions to your design problem, you need to choose which one is best. Requirements First, look at whether each possible solution met your design requirements. Consider solutions that did a much better job than others, and reject those that did not meet the requirements. Nice to Haves, Desirables In addition to your design requirements, you probably have some features that would be "nice to have" in your solution. These are things… Read more
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Preparations With your detailed experimental procedure in hand, you are almost ready to start your science experiment. But before you begin there are still a few more things to do: Know what to do. Read and understand your experimental procedure. Are all of the necessary steps written down? Do you have any questions about how to do any of the steps? Get a laboratory notebook for taking notes and collecting data (see Sample Data Table). Be… Read more
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Target Audience This guide is intended for advanced high school students and college undergraduates who are interested in working on independent research projects. Students should have a strong background in science. At minimum, it is recommended that the students have completed two years of high school science courses, although enrollment in advanced high school science classes (like AP Biology, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics), or the equivalent college-level courses, is preferable. Original… Read more
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Free science fair projects.