Archives for March 2009

Fast and Easy Science Projects

“Fast and Easy Science Projects!” It sounds like an infomercial on late night television. What it is, however, is the desire of every mom who has faced the looming deadline of a science fair.

Most science projects aren’t fast, and if they’re too easy, the teacher won’t accept them. Kids have great ideas, but most of the time they aren’t appropriate. They either won’t work, are too expensive, take months to do, require materials from outer space, or they don’t follow the scientific method. So it’s up to the parent to try and find a science project.

One year one of my boys decided that for his science project, he wanted to test which metal conducted heat the best. The teacher loved the idea. And, frankly, so did I, until we tried to find five samples of different metals. Talk about expensive! We finally found a metallurgist who was able to help us. We developed a testing method that involved wax and our stove. The project worked, but our stove still has wax scars ten years later…

The science projects guides in 24 Hour Science Projects aren’t like that. The project guides were developed from experiments that were easy, were fast, that worked, that didn’t break the bank, and that the teacher liked. Try them out. We promise – all five of the guides really are for fast and easy science projects.

What is the Scientific Method?

So, just what is the Scientific Method? Believe it or not, it depends on which scientist is talking. There are either six, five, or four steps to the scientific method. Doesn’t sound very scientific, does it?! It’s all basically the same general idea, so we’ve taken the average, and are giving you five steps:

1. Observation – Looking at something in the world. Watching things closely makes you curious about why or when or how something happens. That leads to the next step…

2. Question – Wondering about what you see in the world. The questions that come up during your observations are the second step of the scientific method.

3. Hypothesis – A guess at the answer to the question. An hypothesis is an “educated guess”. You take what you already know about the subject and use it to guess the answer to your question. You could be right. You could be wrong. It doesn’t matter, because you’re going to find out in the next step…

4. Experimentation – Testing your hypothesis. You come up with an experiment to find out the answer to your question. This is the trickiest part of the scientific method, because an experiment has to be designed with controls and variables in place. (Keep reading – we’re getting to the definitions!)

5. Results – The answer to the question. When the experiment is complete, your question will be answered, and you’ll have your results!

The scienctific method may look complicated, but it is really a simple process that we use every day to understand and solve problems in the world around us. Use this example with your child: Suppose you observe that your DS isn’t working. You’ll ask yourself the question “What’s wrong with my DS!?” Then you’ll come up with a couple of ideas, or hypotheses: “The battery could be dead, the game could be dirty, or maybe the baby dropped it into the toilet.” So you’ll check the battery, take out the game and blow out the dust, then check for signs of dried Cheerios and wet spots. These experiments will hopefully lead you to the result, and you’ll know why your DS wasn’t working. You’re brilliant! You’ve just followed the scientific method!

The big trick, of course, is to find an experiment that follows the scientific method. For five (or ten!) projects that do, check out 24 Hour Science Projects. And yes, all the projects follow the scientific method!

How do you convert ounces to mg?

“How do you convert ounces to milligrams?”

I get conversion questions like this all the time. There are charts, calculators and formulas all over the internet, but the easier way is…

1. Go to Google.com.
2. Type in “convert X ounces to mg”.
3. Read the answer. It will convert it for you.

(Of course, the real answer I should give you is to multiply the ounces time 28.35. But who wants to do all that work?!)

Great Fifth Grade Science Projects

A Fifth Grade Science Project. Since we have four boys, our family has done a total of four fifth grade science projects. The projects we have done can be found in our 24 Hour Science Projects guides . The experiments are easy to do, yet they meet the requirements of most science fairs and most fifth grade teachers. Check out the ideas, and find out how to get step by step instructions at the end of this article.

These are investigative science projects, which involve a science experiment:

Does the shape of ice affect melting time? Use the same amount of water, place into different shaped containers and freeze. Then see how much time each piece of ice takes to melt.

Which toilet tissue is most biodegradable? Take samples of different types of toilet tissue, and soak them until they fall apart. Run the samples through a strainer, and see which sample leaves the most paper undissolved.

Which citrus fruit has the most Vitamin C? Make an indicator solution with iodine and starch (it’s EASY to do!), and test samples of citrus fruit or juice to see which one has the most vitamin C.

Which brand cereal stays crunchy longest? Weigh different brands of the same cereal, soak in water, and then weigh again to see which one absorbed more water.

These are demonstration science projects – when your teacher wants you to demonstrate a scientific principle to the class.

Demonstrate that yeast gives of gas. Place a yeast and sugar solution into a bottle, put a balloon on top, and watch the yeast give off gas so that the balloon blows up!

Demonstrate how static electricity works. Make a ball of aluminum foil dance between your finger and a pie plate. Watch this one on http://www.youtube.com/watch.

Demonstrate how chemical reactions can be sped up. Put alka seltzer into a cup, and watch it fiz. Then do it again with crushed alka seltzer, another time with warm water, and yet another time with TWO alka seltzers.

We’ve done all of these science projects with our four boys, and they are fast, affordable, and easy to design on your own. We also provide illustrated, step by step instructions on these projects at our website! Whatever you do, remember, fifth grade science projects really can be fun and a learning experience at the same time. So grab your slide rule and your test tubes, and get started on your project now!

These projects are all part of Online Science Project Guides, science projects that are fun, easy, affordable, and teacher pleasing! Have fun this year with your fifth grade science project!

My Grade Science Project

“My granddaughter has a Science Fair coming up soon and we need help. She is in the 2nd grade. My question is are the 24 Hour Projects 2nd grade level? If not, do you offer any at that level? Thanks.”

We often get this question about our projects. The answer is almost always, “Yes, you can use our project guides for your child’s grade.” With few exceptions, our guides can be adapted for use for any grade in elementary through middle school. The references we provide are on several levels – from very elementary to more complicated. The science experiments themselves are all really easy to do. All you’ll have to modify are the explanations that go on your display board. Just make sure they are appropriate for your child’s grade.

When a Science Project Proposal is Rejected

Recently, a student contacted me about a science project he was doing. The question (from one of our projects) was, “Does Covering the Mouth with Hands Prevent the Spread of Germs?”

This project was designed for elementary school students, and the teacher wasn’t pleased with its simplicity. Her main objection was that the experiment question shouldn’t be answerable with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

The clever seventh grade scientist had an easy solution. He reworded his question, “How does covering the mouth prevent the spread of germs?” He did lots of research, conducted the experiment we provided, and was able to turn in a great project.

Sometimes you come up with a great science project topic, but the teacher rejects your idea. If you can ask the teacher for a specific reason for the rejection, you may find that a simple rewording of the question may re-qualify your idea!

The project mentioned above is called “Undercover Sneeze”. It can be found, along with many more projects, at http://www.onlinescienceprojects.com.

The Science Project Idea that Made Us Rocket Scienctists

For many years, no matter how hard we tried, every time we came up with a science project idea, it was rejected. The teacher thought it was too easy or too hard, it didn’t follow the scientific method or our sample wasn’t big enough. The science project idea that we thought was terrific was a failure before it was even done.

So we’d visit the library, and discover that every science project idea in the books was either too hard or too easy, needed supplies that had to be ordered from Outer Mongolia, or was on a topic that didn’t interest our boys. To make matters worse, most of the science project books were full of demonstrations, and our school science fair demanded experiments. The internet wasn’t much better. Whose idea was it to require a child to do a science project anyhow?!

Finally, one year we hit on a science project idea that worked. We could find the supplies, we could get the science experiment to work, we could graph the results and find lots of research material. Best of all, our teacher though that it was a great science project idea, too! I can’t remember if we won at the science fair; just being able to find a project that was approved on the first try made it a winner in my book.

The following year, with a bit of experience (and confidence!) under our belts, it was easier to come up with a science project idea. We felt like rocket scientists when our project idea was accepted once again on the first submission!

We know that we’re not the only family that has a hard time finding a viable science project idea. Since we’ve done it all before, we decided to take our best science project ideas and make them available to others. We chose five projects and made them into a package of science project guides that we sell online at www.24hourscienceprojects.com. Each science project idea has step by step instructions, preformatted charts and graphs, reference helps, and easy to find supplies.

We’ve been in your shoes – in fact, we’re still in them, because our boys still have to come up with a yearly science project idea. You can take a look at our project guides at www.24hourscienceprojects.com. Our projects may mean that you won’t have to be a rocket scientist to come up with a great science project idea!

Science Project Statistics – How to Find the Average

Science project question: “I’m a mother of a 4th grader who is currently working on his science project. We did the project and it was interesting what the results were. The only thing I can’t figure out how can we figure the average numbers at the end of the trials? How do you figure out the average?”

This was an easy question for me to answer. Since this mom was one of our customers, I just referred her to the spreadsheet included with her project. All she had to do was put in the numbers, and the chart (like the one in the picture) was generated automatically. We have formulas in the spreadsheet that do all the calculations.

That’s what 24 Hour Science Projects is all about!