Trying to find the topic for a science fair project can be almost as challenging as the project itself. Helping a child decide on a project that doesn't involve huge expense, constant supervision or the danger of burning down the house need not be an impossibility. Elementary school level projects should be not only informative but quick and fun. Great projects usually answer a question, rather than a general demonstration or display. Remember that the project is your child's, let them have fun with it. Here is a list of ten ideas to help get past the difficult first step.
- Fly a kite.
Making a kite is fun and easy. Adding a tail to the kite adds stability. Does a longer tail make the kite fly better? Try different lengths of tail or vary the number of tails.
- Parachutes - Throwing things for science.
Make parachutes with garbage bags and fishing line. See if larger parachutes are better than smaller parachutes. Are square parachutes better than round ones? Long strings better than short strings?
- Swinging Pendulums.
Make a simple pendulum from a string and fishing weight. How does varying the length of the string affect the period? Add more weight and see what that does.
- Musical Glasses.
Running your finger around a wine glass to make a tone is always entertaining. Does the tone change if you use different liquids in the glass? Check to see if changing the amount of liquid changes the tone.
- Balloons and Static Electricity.
If you rub a balloon against your hair or a wool sweater, you can generate enough static electricity to stick the balloon to a wall. How many rubs does it take to this? Do fuller balloons take more or less rubbing? Does the type of hair matter?
- Spaghetti Bridge.
One piece of spaghetti is easy to break. Bundling several pieces together can support a lot of weight. Make bundles of spaghetti to make beams that span two chairs or tables. Hang a cup from the middle of the spaghetti beam and add fishing weights or bolts until the beam breaks. Is your bridge stronger if you bind the spaghetti with thread, glue, tape or rubber bands? Try different pastas. Is flat spaghetti stronger than round?
You can make a simple electromagnet with a lantern battery, copper wire and a nail. Wrap the wire around the nail several times and connect the ends to the battery terminals. Use the magnet to pick up iron filings. Increase the number of windings and see how the amount of filings your magnet picks up changes.
- Buoyancy with eggs.
If you put an egg into a jar of water, the egg will sink. If you add salt to the water, the egg will start to float. How much salt does it take to float an egg to the top of the water? What if you used sugar instead of salt?
- Watt about light bulbs?
Light bulbs come in several styles, sizes and wattages. What does the wattage mean? Do higher watt bulbs run hotter? brighter?
- Battery Battle.
All battery makers claim their battery lasts longer. Why not see for yourself? Are more expensive batteries better? Does one brand stand out?
- How Strong Is It?
Test the strength of trashbags, grocery store bags, or plastic wrap.
- Whitest of Them All.
Which tooth whitener is best at removing stains and whitening? You can stain tile or another material with coffee, tea, berries, smoke, etc., then compare the whitening power of different toothpastes. Try something similar for laundry detergents or bathroom cleaners.
- Haircolor Colorfastness
Grab a human hair wig and dye different areas with the same color of haircolor, except different brands. Wash the wig and see which color lasts. Do any of the colors change in unexpected ways? Don't don't have a human hair wig? Try wool or another animal hair.