Science Fair Project Ideas – Part 1
The hardest part of a science fair project may very likely be getting started. Once you have an idea in mind it is easy to formulate what experiments and research you will need to do. Until you chose a topic you do not have anything to aim toward. The science fair project is typically designed as an educational tool. This article is not designed to hand you an idea for a project. My goal is that these ideas will point you in the right direction or even give inspiration for another related idea. The three descriptions here will give you an outline, not a project; it is your job to expand on a project idea.
Idea number one: The effect of gravity on plant growth. The main focus of this idea is to see if gravity has an effect on how plants grow. Some answers will only be found through research, specifically on ‘auxin’ and ‘geotropism’. Here are two experiments that you can perform to test how plants grow in relation to gravity. Fold a paper towel down to 1.5 to 2 inch strip. Moisten the folder paper towel with water and place pinto beans spaced out on the strip. Roll up the strip of paper towel with beans and tape it to a piece of cardboard. Be sure to draw an arrow on the cardboard pointing up and put it inside a gallon zipper style baggie. Place the board in a vertical position, like against a window. Over time make note of which direction the stems and roots grow. Ask questions like, “How did the roots know to grow down?” Another experiment that can be used is to simply plant pinto beans in two different aluminum pans with potting soil. Leave on pan on a flat surface while elevating one end of the other pan. This will cause your second ‘garden’ to be on a slope or angle. As the beans grow, note the angle of the stems to the soil.
Idea number two: How is water transported through plants? The main focus of this idea is to see how water travels through a plants roots and stems. Some research key words will be ‘xylem tubes’ and ‘sap’. This basic experiment is easy but can be elaborated on. Get a bunch of celery (one bundle) from you local grocer. Be sure to select two stalks from close to the center of the bunch. After cutting off the bottom evenly with the help of an adult, place one in a cup of water (clear plastic cups may work best) and another in a cup of water turned red with food coloring. After 24 hours, dry off and observe the celery stalks. You may want to use a magnifying glass or have an adult cut a section of the stalk so you can view the cut ends. After you test the celery try using a while carnation in the same test. Another more elaborate variation is to take a white carnation and have an adult cut the stem long ways from the bottom to half way up the stem. Place one of the halves in a cup with water died red and the other half in a cup with water died blue. This will help you determine if xylem tubes are connect together or remain separate from each other.
Idea number three: How can seeds break apart rocks? The main focus of this idea is to see if the growth of plant seeds actually pushes apart a solid object. Research key words for this idea are ‘weathering’ and ‘physical weathering.’ In the experiment for this idea, you will need to fill two small disposable cups half full with plaster. (Note: be sure to not rinse plaster covered tools and bowls in a sink, as it will clog the drains.) In one you will place pinto beans into the plaster leaving half above the surface and half below the surface. The cup without pinto beans will be your ‘control’. Moisten a paper towel for each cup (not dripping) and place into the cups so that the towel is snug against the surface of the plaster. After one week remove the paper towels and begin the observation process.
These three science fair project ideas may give you a good place to start on your project. Please be sure to research each idea extensively and even create your own variations of the experiments. More ideas will follow in future articles.
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