Back in my high school days, science fairs were only for science geeks – like me, of course. I guess they still are in some ways, but with the advent of the Internet, practically everyone has easy access to information on nearly every topic imaginable. Today, science is on the front page nearly every day. With Global warming, the energy crisis and fuel prices, there are a lot of hot ideas that can lead to a good science fair project. I’ll list several projects I think students of all ages could pull off.
1. Homemade battery.
Make a homemade battery from whatever materials you can come up with. One example would be to get a bunch of pennies and nickles. Lay them out alternatively, penny, nickle,penny and so on. Between each nickle and penny, place a piece of thin vinegar soaked paper (tissue may work). Use more pennies and nickles to create more power. Then power something cool with it. It really works, and it’s so easy to pull off. You can use other materials, and of course I think it would help to write a report on how common materials, and even trash, could be used to produce fuels.
2. Stirling engine.
Make a Stirling engine that runs off of temperature differences. You can get complete plans for building a Stirling engine out of a soda can, balloon, some wood and a wire hanger from the web at http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~khirata/english/mk_can.htm.
Next, think of something that wastes heat, and a way to reclaim it using a Stirling engine. The ones on the web are usually powered by a candle, or even dry ice.
3. Recapture energy from radio waves.
Back in my day, we’d make crystal radio sets that were literally powered only by the radio waves themselves. Nowadays, this is not as impressive. I’ve found plans on the Internet about taking this to the extreme. Evidently, you can create a simple antenna that can suck about 30 watts of power out of thin air (actually using the power coming from radio station/ TV station broadcasts). For more information, visit http://amasci.com/tesla/tesceive.html.
These ideas seem pretty good for starting a science fair project. Of course, you’ll have to write a report on how your project could save/generate or reclaim energy and somehow help save the planet. Hopefully these ideas will get you thinking. There’s no limit to what you can do, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. With any luck, the project may inspire you to invent something that really makes a difference.