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Emma Heffernan

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Does anyone know of an original science fair project?

My 14 year old son has wanted to become a scientist since before I can remember. An opportunity has come up for him to enter into a science fair but I need some ideas.

It would be the first science fair he has entered into so it doesn't matter if he wins or not, just the participation I believe would be a good experience for him.

There is no better place to ask than the TED community, all ideas would really be appreciated.

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  • Mar 10 2012: Their was a really cool project a couple Canadian students did launching a lego many into space. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwLmGR6bPA
    I always liked testing chemical reactions. So as a kid if i could design a product that went boom for science that made me happy.
    Also you could perhaps try Kevin idea with various ways of filtering the water. Boiling and recondensing water can remove some of the salts, as well as perhaps testing a commercial filter, and perhaps another method.
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      Mar 10 2012: I love the lego man, I must say I am surprised it went into space so fast. I'll have to show my son. Thanks!
      • Mar 11 2012: The video was speed up so your feeling was justified. If you search for lego in space their are a couple articles on who did it.
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          Mar 11 2012: Awesome, it's a pretty cool idea. I wonder how he came up with the idea of launching a lego man into space :)
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    Mar 8 2012: He could do a small-scale agricultural experiment. Plants such as beansprouts grow quite quickly. He could see how any number of variables affects the growth of the plant. Ex: amount of light, water, type of soil, etc. I did a similar experiment in 6th grade.

    Most importantly, he should be interested in whatever he tests and be curious about the results. Designing the experiment, creating proper controls, etc is a very good learning process.
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      Mar 8 2012: Hi Kevin, How did your project go? I'd need something that would grow near the salt water if you have any suggestions. We've tried an onion and sunflower seeds but both failed and I guess it is because we are too close to the ocean.
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        Mar 9 2012: I remember we used some alaskan bean plant that grew quite fast and measured its main stalk height, the variable you measure could be something else though. If your local soil isn't sufficient for the growth of the plant you choose, you can always just buy some soil from a gardening store.

        I'm not sure of a quickly germinating plant that would suit your local soil offhand though. I really know next to nothing about plant biology.

        Try getting into contact with local gardeners in your community if you can to help you in the process. I must emphasize that your child's curiosity should guide the experiment though.
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    Mar 7 2012: How about a project illustrating the construct of the Scientific Method? It would be helpful, interesting and enlightening.
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      Mar 7 2012: Hi Edward, Do you mean a project about the components of the Scientific Method? As in, would there be any other components of the Scientific method scientist could include to come to their conclusions?
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        Mar 8 2012: Many folks are unfamiliar with the prescribed method of scientific investigation which is the prevailing, and venerated, rule for all credible scientific effort. It is concise and comprehensive at the same time. Some say it is one of man's best inventions. Have your 14- year-old look it up. You could include an actual example with each step of the process. Enjoy!
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    Mar 6 2012: I remember reading this article:
    http://www.cracked.com/article_19442_8-simple-questions-you-wont-believe-science-cant-answer.html

    I believe #7 would be the most suited for a science fair project
    (creating a representation of our solar system with all actual moons, asteroid fields and potential other planets in our solar system that science has not yet discovered, but currently theorising).
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    Mar 8 2012: Okay, thank you Edward.