Ninety-nine Science Project Ideas
By Dr. Michael N. Farney—Director of the South Central South Dakota Science and Engineering Fair
This page is for busy teachers to hand out to their students. Its ideas should excite kids from grades 6-12. Many commercial devices, kits, and instruments are included; one can order nearly everything online for less than $20.00. I selected the websites and the merchandise based on quality and potential interest.
- Astronomy: Build 3-D paper models of the planets and lots more with online plans.
- Astronomy: Build a low-power scope from Edmund Scientific for $12.95 or do it yourself (with video).
- Astronomy: Build a sundial by again going to 3-D paper models. Then test it.
- Astronomy: Given the distance to the Sun, calculate its size here or here.
- Astronomy: Is a harvest moon really super-large? Take pictures and explain the moon illusion.
- Astronomy: Photograph meteor trails and star trails. Try shooting into a hubcap!
- Astronomy: Show how Native American constellations relate to the European ones.
- Behavior: Are band members more interested in mathematics than non-musicians? Begin here.
- Behavior: Can you tell the sex of a person from looking at pictures of their bare feet?
- Behavior: Do people notice shape or color first on “non-standard” playing cards?
- Behavior: Does aging reduce your night vision? If you wish to read an in-depth article go here.
- Behavior: How does age affect your reflexes, in particular, the time to dribble a ping-pong ball?
- Behavior: Investigate the Stroop Effect. Reading “red” in blue ink is slower than “red” in red ink.
- Behavior: Which gender do the police arrest more frequently for speeding?
- Behavior: Which gender is more likely to run a stop sign? Contact us for a full report.
- Behavior: Which state collects the most lottery money per resident? How can you explain that data?
- Biology: Buy a Tickle Me Plant from Edmund Scientific for $4.95 and explain its weird activities.
- Biology: Buy Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm for $13.99 and record their behavior.
- Biology: Buy Triops Dinosaur Shrimp for $3.99 and report on their life cycle.
- Biology: Can an ultraviolet light bulb be used to prevent bread mold?
- Biology: Catch spiders and study them with a Spider Catcher.
- Biology: Catch, photograph, and catalog all insects in a square meter of soil with $14.97 Bug Vacuum.
- Biology: Like chickens? This link will take you to over a dozen projects with these birds.
- Biology: Identify loads of fossil shark teeth you can buy for $13.95 or find free in nearby river beds.
- Biology: Is it true that moths prefer an ultraviolet light bulb to bulbs of other colors?
- Biology: Study Butterflies with a Live Butterfly Garden for $19.99.
- Biology: Switch birdseed color in this easy $10.00 feeder and see which color birds prefer.
- Botany: Do earthworms promote plant growth? Buy worms here.
- Botany: Does the soil from anthills act as a fertilizer? Do plants grow better next to them?
- Botany: Find a tree stump and analyze its rings. Here’s another good tree ring site.
- Botany: Grow plants in a rock tumbler or clinostat to simulate zero gravity. You might try this method.
- Botany: How close can another plant grow to an ornamental sweet potato (which poisons the soil)?
- Botany: How does the size of a seed determine its ideal planting depth?
- Botany: Is the growth rate of radish seeds affected by temperature?
- Botany: What factors cause orange juice to lose Vitamin C? Here’s another way to make the test.
- Botany: Why do leaves change color in fall? (Use many plants.)
- Botany: What percent of various fruits is water? Here is another good site.
- Botany: Why and how do trees differ? How many types are in your area? Use a camera.
- Botany: Will plants grow better in plain water or in water leached many times through rich soil? Here's an easier project of the same type using various types of water.
- Chemistry: Can you paint a picture using only Native American pigments? Here’s another site.
- Chemistry: Find the pH of household liquids with “Cabbage Juice” for $9.95. Or make your own.
- Chemistry: Grow colorful Rock Candy Crystals for $9.95. Model the sugar crystal. Or grow salt.
- Chemistry: How does the dissolving rate of Alka-Seltzer depend on warmth (and other experiments)?
- Chemistry: Separate colors in marker pens or colored drinks with chromatography.
- Chemistry: Use $9.95 goldenrod paper to classify household products as acidic or basic. Look here.
- Chemistry: Weigh water as it evaporates. How does adding salt affect the evaporation rate?
- Engineering: Are wood composites stronger than solid wood?
- Engineering: Build a $6.95 Seltzer-Powered Rocket and make it fly higher it with hot water, and so on.
- Engineering: Build a hovercraft. Look at this one!
- Engineering: Build a pantograph. Learn more here.
- Engineering: Build a solar oven and cook a whole day’s worth of meals in it. Explore this site.
- Engineering: Build a rubber-powered helicopter and evaluate it.
- Engineering: Build an Ultra-Capacitor Car from a kit for $11.83.
- Engineering: Buy an Electric Plane Launcher for $15.99 and test paper plane designs.
- Engineering: Can polarized light show stresses? Video here. Make a model bone and test it.
- Engineering: Can the famous drinking bird be made to turn a wheel? Here is how it works. More on the bird here. Also here.
- Engineering: Do illegal baseball bats cause the ball to travel farther? Good plans here.
- Engineering: How can you build an electric magnet? For a great one, click here.
- Engineering: How does the output of a solar cell change with sun angle? Here are some solar kits.
- Engineering: What are the costs of running a small engine on ethanol and other fuels?
- Engineering: Which bridge type is stronger: arch, truss, spanning? Popsicle bridges here.
- Engineering: Which common building materials are best to insulate a house? How good are they?
- Engineering: Buy an electric motor kit for $4.95. Build it yourself. Then make better motors.
- Forensics: Identify commercial fabrics with a $ 7.75 Multi-Fiber Ribbon.
- Forensics: Compare fingerprints with 50 real FBI Fingerprint Cards for $13.25.
- Geology: Identify minerals in Florescent Rocks with $17.50 UV light. Inexpensive minerals here.
- Geology: Locate earthquakes on a map or a globe. Explain them. Use the USGS website.
- Geology: Locate local river contamination sites by using Google Earth.
- Geology: Model all 4 volcano types: cinder-cone, shield, composite, and lava domes.
- Math: Decipher the Babylonian number system. Use it to read a clay tablet here and here.
- Math: Describe the number patterns in Pascal’s Triangle.
- Math: How often will two dice roll a particular combination?
- Math: Make a non-round wheel and find a use for it. More here.
- Math: Make magic squares and explain how they work. For a simple project, go here.
- Math: Multiply number by the clever rods called Napier’s Bones either here or here or here.
- Math: What methods did Native tribes use for counting? Did they differ between tribes?
- Math: Will spinning a penny rather than tossing it change the odds? Apparently it is true!
- Physics: Build a cloud chamber and photograph subatomic particles. See the movie here. Still more here.
- Physics: Build each one of the six simple machines. Also look here and here and here.
- Physics: Does heating a permanent magnet diminish its strength? Can this project be improved?
- Physics: Does the period of a pendulum depend on weight, amplitude, or length?
- Physics: Can you find the viscosity of motor oils in cold weather? Begin here or try here.
- Physics: Explain why a disk rolls downhill faster than a ring.
- Physics: Study density by building Galileo's thermometer.
- Physics: Find the speed of sound with a starter pistol and a stopwatch.
- Physics: For a catapult or trebuchet what is the relationship between weight tossed and distance?
- Physics: Use Sun-Art paper for many science experiments.
- Physics: Weigh water (or some other liquid). How does surface area affect its evaporation rate?
- Physics: Which colored water heats up faster in the sun? For a thermometer that has many uses, such as insertion into a fridge, this seems best.
- Physics: How does the bounce in golf balls translate into distance?
- Weather: Build a tornado in a box. How does water temperature affect its performance?
- Weather: Buy a $10.99 Globe Barometer Glass and use it to predict the weather.
- Weather: Buy a hygrometer and calibrator and use it to predict the weather. (Also at Wal-Mart.)
- Weather: This Science Buddies site has many good weather project ideas.
- Weather: Measure rainfall with a rain gauge. Use with barometer, hygrometer.
- Weather: Measure snowfall with a simple snow gauge. This site can help explain the gauge. Use with barometer, hygrometer.
- Weather: Photograph snowflakes; it is tough. Here’s an expensive way. Here’s a cheaper one.
- Weather: Photograph the clouds in the sky and identify them on a chart. Here or here or here.
- Weather: Which of these ancient weather proverbs may be true?