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comicalmayhem's avatar

Science Fair Project Ideas based on my Interests?

Asked by comicalmayhem (809points) July 20th, 2010

In order to have fun doing my science fair project, I need to have it be on something I’m interested in. I’m interested in doing a project on:
Lucid Dreams
Inception (not the movie, if it’s really possible why or why not)
Ferro Fluid

This has to be on a 9th grade level! So nothing too easy or too hard.

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20 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Try making a pinhole camera.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Ferro fluids are great. How about inventing a tripod that works with ferro fluid. You get it to the position you want and then push a button to energize the magnetic field so it stays in place. No need to twist knobs.

kapuerajam's avatar

Not exactly in your guide lines but super easy;grow two plants one on an all water diet and the other on a 50% water and 50% enegy drink diet and log their progress.

gasman's avatar

Ferrofluid science set at

Scientifc commentary on the movie Inception at NewScientist. Note, btw, that’s it’s well known that we dream in “real time”; it’s an old and enduring myth that dreaming goes faster than it seems—despite this being one of the basic premises of the film.

Lucid dreams; This strikes me as too rare and quirky to actually gather subjects together for any kind of study or survey. The best you could do is a report based on literature research.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Great idea @worriedguy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that show up on the market one day.

I did a project in grade school that went over big time. This is applicable to 9th grade as well, if you understand the concepts. I grew up a photographers son so I understood the concepts very early on.

It would encompass Time Travel, Photography and Invisibility. The fun part is that the whole class could take part in it.

Basically, it’s an experiment in long exposure. Get your EV (exposure value) set for the time necessary for someone to cross a 10’ area. Let’s say that is 3 seconds. You will have to set your ISO and aperture to expose properly for a 3 second exposure, with no flash. You may need to use neutral density filters to adjust for that exposure. But with the classroom lights out, and shades pulled, I’ll bet your exposure would be somewhere around 3 seconds at f8 with 100ISO.

Have someone (or the whole freaking class) stand on one side outside of the frame. They are to walk from one side of the picture to the other during the image capture of 3 seconds.

Assuming my estimate is correct (you may have to adjust) the image should show a teachers desk and a chalkboard with a blurred wavy stripes running through it horizontally. That’s the people crossing the photo during a 3 second exposure. You are actually demonstrating time travel from point A to point B.

Now keep your EV the same but change settings of shutter and f/stop. Go to 6 seconds at f/11. The exposure will look identical, but the people won’t even show up this time. They will literally be invisible.

Now let everyone dance around in front of the camera at 12 seconds at f/16. Have some people stand perfectly still, but wobbling their heads only. Some people will be invisible, and some will have bodies but no heads.

The experiment is designed to determine how short or long of an exposure is necessary to capture a moving object on film, or make it invisible altogether. It would actually be more fun to have a camera tethered to a computer or even a projector so everyone could see the results right away.

I had to do mine with polaroid film 40 years ago. Have fun!

comicalmayhem's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies So you’re talking about a project on special effects, right?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well I guess you could call it that. But I don’t consider it special effects myself. It’s just as real as any reality. It’s just looking at reality in a different time code. It’s not like you’re using photoshop to add special effects by changing reality. It’s real.

You could incorporate fitness into the project as well. Instead of having people cross the room, have them do jumping jacks or lift weights. Their arms and legs would be blurred or invisible. The images might even look like a lucid dream state.

6rant6's avatar

Take pictures of your own face with different emotions. Ask a group of people to identify the emotions (norming your results).

Then crop the pictures in half – eyes versus mouth. Ask another group of people to identify the emotions. Is the perception of emotion in the eyes, or the mouth or both?

frigate1985's avatar

How people feel when deprived of sleep! Maybe you can conduct the test on your friend and make him stay awake for like, 96 hours straight haha (no I’m serious!)

gorillapaws's avatar

Some of the above suggestions are kind of neat, but usually science projects aren’t about making something cool, they’re about working through the scientific method.

Typically most science experiments take the form of “The Effect of [independent variable] on [dependent variable]” where you form a hypothesis, create a test and a control, and then run through trials, recording the data. After the data is collected, you analyze it and form a conclusion (i.e. implementing the scientific method on your own).

I think a better way to approach the OP’s question is what is a question you want to discover the answer to related to one or more of those topics? For example, you might want to know, do protein shakes really help you gain muscle stregnth faster? You would devise an experiment to test it. Here’s an example of how you might try testing it:

Get 20 volunteers to agree to participate in an exercise routine over the course of 2 months (or however long you have). They would probably need notes from a doctor saying they are healthy enough to participate in an exercise routine—which makes this a bit impractical, but you can still get an idea. Everyone would perform the same routine and have a strength test at the end of each week—how many reps can they perform a bicep curl with a 10 lbs. weight for example (you might want to do several different strength tests). 5 people would take ⅓ the max recommended dosage of protein shake, 5 would take ⅔ the max recommended dosage, another 5 would take the full daily dosage of protein shake, and the last 5 wouldn’t take any shake at all (they’re the control). It’s important that everyone use the same brand of protein shake, which you would probably have to pay for.

You record their progress over the course of the 2 months and compare the results. Of the different groups. See if the people who were drinking protein shakes did better or worse than the people who were just drinking a little bit of protein, or no protein.

Obviously, there are several reasons why this particular example would be expensive and difficult to do in 9th grade, but hopefully you can get the sense of the way you work through the scientific process of answering your original question. I would also suggest staying away from the lucid dreaming stuff because it’s tricky to test without a sleep lab in a hospital or university.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@6rant6 I think you’re forgetting the ‘based on my interests’ part. & I’m going into 9th grade, not 5th.

comicalmayhem's avatar

I think what I’ll do is ferrofluid but I still need a question about ferrofluid to answer to call it my project topic.

gorillapaws's avatar

@comicalmayhem figure out what ferrofluid is used for. Test to see if it does that thing better than alternatives.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@gorillapaws It’s used for speakers and stuff, but I’m more interested in how the ferrofluid makes spikes and how it’s magnetic.

gorillapaws's avatar

@comicalmayhem so maybe you test various different types of ferrofluids to see which creates the longest spikes and under which conditions?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@gorillapaws theres only one type. You should probably search ferrofluid.

gorillapaws's avatar

@comicalmayhem I did. There are many different types of surfactants used in various different types of ferrofluids. Including:

oleic acid
Tetramethylammonium hydroxide
citric acid
and Soy Lecithin

From the wikipedia article on Ferrofluid. You should probably be nicer to people who are tying to help you out.

comicalmayhem's avatar

1. I wasn’t being mean I was just saying you should search it.
2. That’s Wikipedia. Not always true.
3. There’s only one type of ferrofluid that makes spikes (that is magnetic)

6rant6's avatar

@comicalmayhem You’re too young to realize how things work, but this kind of research is carried on at universities. And I’m sure you could do a shlocky, fourth grade job of it. The question is, can you do a decent job?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@6rant6 I tested the relationship between temperature and magnetic strength and I got an A. I say that’s a decent job.

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