Example of a successful Mung Bean Science Fair Project

Here is an example of one version of the Mung Bean project targeting acid rain. He is a fifth grader and focused on changing pH with vinegar to evaluate the effects of low pH on plant growth.

5th grade Science Fair Project Board

5th grade Science Fair Project Board

If you have done a version of the Mung Bean project I detailed in earlier posts, send me the photo and I may post it too!

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A technically complete science fair project in ONE HOUR

This project is not going to win any fair, but if you are in a jam and just need SOMETHING and a decent grade, then this project might help:

Science Fair Project in One Hour

WHAT YOU NEED: maple syrup (cheap fake stuff is best), tall thin glass container like a flower vase (taller is better), at least 30 pennies, pot with 3 inches of water on stove, stopwatch, thermometer (but can do the project without one – see below).

QUESTION: How does temperature affect viscosity?

RESEARCH: look up “viscosity” and learn what viscosity is. NOTE if you actually have more than one hour, then also learn about how viscosity affects very small organisms like phytoplankton and fish larvae and think about how global climate changes could impact the viscosity of the oceans and what that might mean for marine ecosystems.

HYPOTHESIS (pick one, but only one):
—-If temperature increases, then viscosity will increase
—-If temperature increases, then viscosity will decrease
—-If temperature increases, then viscosity will stay the same

CHANGE THIS, MEASURE THAT

VARIABLES
Independent variable (the one you will change) = temperature; measured with a thermometer or as a function of time with heat applied (called Heat Time; see below)

Dependent variable (the one you will measure) = viscosity; measured as the time it takes for an object to fall through a fluid (called Fall Time below). Low viscosity = Short fall time

Controlled variables (the ones you don’t care about but must stay the same between trials) = size/shape of container, maple syrup, pennies

PROCEDURE:
1. Fill the glass container with maple syrup, put container in pot with about 3 inches of water; do not turn on heat yet.

2. Drop in one penny and time (use stop watch) how long it takes to hit the bottom of the container, listen for the sound of the penny hitting the glass. Repeat 2 more times making sure you drop the penny from the same height each time; record data in a table.

3. Turn heat on to medium; start another timer or look at clock to mark Heat Time = 0

4. Every 2 minutes drop in another 3 pennies (one at a time, timing each one). If you have a thermometer, you should also record the actual temperature. NOTE: as time goes on, more heat is applied and temperature increases. In this case, time is easier to measure than temperature because where the thermometer sits in the maple syrup will affect your temperature reading.

CONTROL: the viscosity at room temperature, before any temperature increase is applied; so the Fall Times for the first three pennies dropped in.

DATA/ANALYSIS:
Make a table showing Heat Time (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, etc. in minutes); Temperature in degrees if you took it; and the three fall times, one for each penny. Then make a column for the average fall time.

Make a LINE GRAPH with Heat Time (a measure of Temperature) on the x-axis and FALL TIME (a measure of Viscosity) on the y-axis. Graph the average fall times for each heat time data point.

If you took real temperatures, make a second line graph with Temperature on the x-axis.

What does the line look like? Is it straight or curved? If you did both are the two lines the same or different?

CONCLUSION:
Now you must accept or reject your hypothesis. So determine if the data match your hypothesis. If yes, then accept. If no, then reject.

Hints:
Does the line go up? Then the data show that as Heat Time (= temperature) increased, the Fall Time (= viscosity) increased. Is that the hypothesis you chose? Then accept your hypothesis, otherwise reject it.

Does the line go down? Then the data show that as Heat Time (= temperature) increased, the Fall Time (=viscosity) decreased. Is that the hypothesis you chose? Then accept your hypothesis, otherwise reject it.

Is the line straight across (not going upward or downward)? Then the data show as Heat Time (=temperature increased, the Fall Time (=viscosity) did not change. Is that the hypothesis you chose? Then accept your hypothesis, otherwise reject it.

IF you have more time, you can also do the experiment by putting container in refrigerator to change the temperature in the opposite direction.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN: Repeat with different types of syrup (rank by cost) or with other fluids like corn syrup or molasses.

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How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 4

Wow look at the difference by ONLY day 3 of the trial run. All of the mung beans in the control have sprouted while none of the mung beans in the low pH environment (i.e. with vinegar) sprouted. So – all other factors being equal – we could conclude that pH has a negative effect on mung bean sprouting!!

Control on right

Control on right

Remember that “plant projects” always get you a little extra credit for “effort” because they can’t be done in a day – but this one could be done in as little as 3 days.

Things I have learned:

*** pH has a negative effect (i.e. the project idea worked!!)

*** 1/2 cup of vinegar + 1/2 water = maximum amount of vinegar to use (since none sprouted)

*** soaking time not critical as long as its longer than minimum of 6 hours (remember I accidentally let them soak all night – but the control still sprouted 100%

*** too much cheese cloth makes rinsing difficult

*** mung beans are like glitter – they get everywhere!

*** pictures are important for documenting and for the backboard

*** I can eat the control mung beans when done!!

NEXT STEP:

The design above will work for the basic design, but I would like to do a more advanced design and look for a dose-response relationship between the amount of vinegar (i.e. the pH level) and the amount of sprouting.

So I would do:

3 jars: Control (water; no vinegar)
3 jars: Low dose vinegar (highest pH level): 5 drops of vinegar into 1 cup of water
3 jars: Medium dose vinegar (medium pH level): 1 tablespoon of vinegar, fill to 1 cup with water.
3 jars: Highest dose of vinegar (lowest pH level = most acidic condition): 1/4 cup of vinegar, fill to cup line with water.

Also make a data sheet for observations and think about what to measure BESIDES number that spouted (e.g. size of sprouting, etc.). More data will mean more information that could lead to more experiments.

Control on right

Control on right

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How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 3

Doing a “trial run” might seem inefficient, but I assure you – it will help discover any issues or problems and will help pinpoint concentrations, volumes, times, etc. that need to be worked out if you are designing your own project.

Mistake #1: I put the 2 jars in a dark area of my kitchen; for me this was behind my breadmaker… However – out of sight = out of mind because I forgot to dump out the water after 8 hours. Anyway – here is what the beans now look like:

mung beans 2 001

Adding to procedure, we would want to drain the water out of the jar through the cheese cloth top. Fill the jar with tap water (through the cheese cloth) and rinse 3 times (both the control and the test get rinsed with clean water).

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Interestingly, the volume of beans seems to be about the same in each jar, but I can see signs of sprouting in the control jar (small white rings in the center of the swollen green beans) and not in the test jar, suggesting that the lower pH might interfere with sprouting.

See the control:

CONTROL

CONTROL

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And the test beans exposed to a low pH environment (i.e. vinegar)

TEST (low pH)

TEST (low pH)

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Thinking about what I can measure/observe: Volume of beans, signs of sprouting, color, etc. I will want to include all of these on a data sheet that I make for my real run. I will also want to have a camera on hand to document the progress and get photos for my backboard.

Today: Rinse the beans 3x in the evening

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How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 2

Today I am figuring out the best set up to use and doing a “trial run”. Buying 12 mung bean sprouters isn’t in by budget so I made one from items I could find easily (pasta jar, cheese cloth, elastics):

Make a mung bean sprouter - you will need at least 6 (3 for controls and 3 for test)

Make a mung bean sprouter – you will need at least 6 (3 for controls and 3 for test)

This is a 12 oz mason jar that I buy Classico Alfredo Sauce in (and fortunately my kids love this stuff so it won’t take long for me to save 12 jars). I have covered it with a square of cheese cloth (bought cheesecloth at the supermarket – it’s on the “kitchen stuff” isle) held in place with a rubber band (found in my junk drawer).

Yesterday, I selected 100 mung beans so that the math (I will be calculating %) would be easier and intuitive; but once I counted out 100 beans I immediately figured out that 100 was not enough because 100 mung beans is only 1/2 Tablespoon (didn’t even cover bottom of jar). To make the math a bit easier I figured I should have 1000 mung beans in each sprouter…. The best procedure is to actually count 1000 mung beans… but that gets old fast, so I did 5 tablespoons and that turned out to be a level 1/3 of a cup of mung beans. There would now be “approximately” 1000 mung beans per sprouter.
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So now I know I need 1 cup of mung beans per “treatment” and 1 cup for the control. I know I will put 1/3 of a cup into each of 3 clean jars. I also figured out the mason jar can hold 1 cup of water.

So my “procedure” so far looks like:

1. Rinse all mung beans for 3-5 minutes;
Mung bean 3

2. Add 1/3 cup of mung beans to each of 6 jars (if basic) and 12 jars (if advanced).

Mung bean 2

3. Add 1 cup of water to 3 control jars.

Of all my questions, I started with testing pH because I had some white vinegar. I know vinegar is acidic but I don’t really know how much vinegar I should use. So I picked 1/2 cup:

4. Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar to 3 test jars.

That means my QUESTION is: What is the effect of pH on mung bean sprouting?

So my HYPOTHESIS is: As pH decreases (i.e. lower pH is more acidic) the percentage of mung beans that sprout will decrease because the acid will have a negative effect.

5. Soak for 8 hours.
6. Rinse morning and evening every day for 5 days (keep out of direct sunlight).
7. Observe for signs of sprouting and note the volume change in the jar (the beans will expand).
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This is my trial run with 1 control (tan elastic) and 1 test (blue rubber band)
Test on left; Control on right
If you look close, the water levels are not even which means I will need to measure more carefully and I should count 1000 mung beans per jar. I don’t want little differences between my jars to obscure any results that I may record later.

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How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 1

Here is some insight into life with a scientist: My daughter tried some freshly sprouted mung beans from a friend at school –> She looked up mung beans and discovered they are very healthy and wanted to start eating them more regularly –> I went to the store to buy mung beans and discovered you have to sprout them yourself –> My daughter’s friend’s mom teaches me how to sprout mung beans –> After two days, beans sprouts…. and I (insert light bulb here) immediately realized mung beans would be a great tool to conduct science fair projects with!! Mung beans are cheap, easy to sprout, and the results are quick. So here I will design a science fair project – from scratch – so you can see how I work my way through the process.

The key is that the mung beans need to sit in clean water for 6 to 8 hours; clean water leads to most beans sprouting in 2-5 days. MY OBSERVATION: What happens if the water is not clean? So –> CHANGE THE WATER… MEASURE THE NUMBER OF BEANS THAT SPROUT.

This is a model system – the mung beans represent living organisms. With this model system I can ask many questions that have real world applications. For example:

What if the water has a low pH? = Ocean acidification and/or Acid Rain

What if the water is salty? = Salt water intrusion and/or Rising Sea Levels

What if the water is polluted? = Non-point Source Pollution and Runoff

What if the water has growth additives? = Use of Fertilizers or Effects of Vitamins

What if the water has tannins? = Chemical Ecology

What if the water has sediment? = Erosion and/or Sediment pollution

What if the water has an anti-biotic in it? = Effects of Anti-biotics

I haven’t decided which one I will tackle here – but the point is, with this system you could test the effect of WHATEVER YOU ARE INTERESTED IN as long as you can add it to the water.

My first task: Figure out what I need for materials….

I know I need a CONTROL set and an experimental set and I know I need REPLICATION; so that means I will need 6 jars/bags/sprouters for a basic experiment and 9 to 12 for a more advanced design… Here I am thinking:

BASIC
3 jars for control (clean water)
3 jars for a “test” condition

ADVANCED
3 jars for a control (clean water)
3 jars for a “low” condition
3 jars for a “medium” condition
3 jars for a “high” condition

Each jar needs a square of cheese cloth and an elastic and I need enough mung beans for each. My initial thought: count out 100 beans for each… (I was a pharmacy technician so I can quickly count by 5s) but that might get tedious so I could use a standard measure like a 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup. We’ll have to see how many fit in the jar leaving space to expand.

I am also envisioning what the eventual data will look like (most likely a bar graph with condition on the x-axis and % of beans that sprouted on the y-axis) and thinking about making a data sheet to keep track of the washing schedule and observations regarding the beans….

For now I need to go search my house for jars … or maybe red Solo cups… and go to the store to buy beans and cheese cloth … more later

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Change THIS, Measure THAT: How to design your own unique science fair project

Back to school time is also: “what am I going to do for a science fair project” time. This happens to be my FAVORITE time of year, but I appreciate that the required project also causes a lot of stress in a lot of classrooms and households!!

START EARLY – here is some help:

Look for ideas that will “test” a relationship between two variables, because the fundamental structure of all science fair projects is to change something and then measure how the change impacted another thing (here the “things” are called variables). Sometimes it is easier to identify what you can measure first. Think of variables that would have numbers and units such as time, distance, angle, speed, growth, age, weight, volume, temperature, circumference, salinity, intensity, hardness, etc. or alternatively some event that happens that you could count (i.e. the number of times something specific happens).

Look for a “statement” in a science book, the newspaper, or on the web that you could test or you want to know more about, such as:

*** Spiders avoid coconut oil.
*** Ants are attracted to raw foods more than processed foods.
*** Salt water intrusion harms lake-side plants.
*** DNA degrades over time.
*** Storing opened containers of tomato sauce upside down will make them last longer.
*** Ocean acidification might kill crabs and oysters.
*** Sunscreen from swimmers harms aquatic wildlife.

Now take your statement and make it a QUESTION, for example:

— Will spiders avoid coconut oil?
— Do ants prefer raw food compared to processed food?
— Does salinity affect plant growth?
— How long does it take for DNA to degrade?
— Will storing an open container of food prolong it’s shelf life?
— How does pH affect the shells of oysters and crabs?
— How does the concentration of sunscreen affect aquatic organisms?

Now make your question into a HYPOTHESIS:

^^^ If there is coconut oil applied to a corner, then spiders will not approach the corner.
^^^ Ants will be attracted to raw, unprocessed foods more (or faster) than processed foods.
^^^ As salinity increases, plant growth will decrease.
^^^ As age increases, the amount of DNA that can be extracted will decrease.
^^^ Upside-right contains will mold faster than upside-down containers.
^^^ As the concentration of sunscreen increases, the density of phytoplankton will decrease.

Based on your hypothesis, design your EXPERIMENT, remember change THIS, measure THAT: There are MANY different ways to test the same hypothesis. Here is just one example:

Change the conditions (with and without coconut oil); Have 2 areas (tanks, walls, rooms, cups, etc.) one with and one without coconut oil and then measure the number of spiders, the time a spider will stay in the area, the frequency with which a spider visits) etc.

Change the food available and measure how many ants come or how quickly the first ant comes.

Change the amount of salt in the water for the plant, and measure the plants’ growth. This could be down as with and without salt (simple) or as a concentration gradient of salinity (more advanced)

Extract DNA from fruits of different ages (i.e. change the age: fresh, less fresh, decaying, decomposing, mush) and measure the amount of DNA extracted from the same weight/volume of each “age”.

Change the way similar jars of the same food are stored and measure the time it takes to see the first signs of mold.

Change the concentration of sunscreen dissolved in water and measure the density of plankton it can support.

Designing your own project is not hard and chances are your teacher will recognize it as original (yes, they have already seen most of the ones on the popular websites …)

Remember to include replication and a control.

Good Luck!

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Guest Blog: How to Write a Research Paper – by Lois

A Step by Step Guide in Writing a Research Paper

Over the decade of school, we have all probably written numerous research papers, probably most of it during our high school and college years. It probably came to a point where you’ve written so many research papers that it has become a second nature for you already. But not everyone has the privilege to have the basic knowledge in how to write a research paper like other people. But for those who still need help, here is a basic step by step process on how to write a research paper that may help out a whole lot.

Step 1: Gathering of Research
This phase is probably the most time consuming part of the whole research paper because it is the step where you have to do intensive research about your chosen topic. Don’t worry if you spend a good amount of time on this part because this will be your content in the main research paper. You can try searching the internet, go to the library to read books related to your topic and also read journal articles.

You can try doing the following:
** Refine your chosen research subject and stick to it
** Develop your research questions and make sure to write it down so you can glance it at every time you need to
** Go to your local library and ask them their opinion on your research area and also do a lot of your research here
** Read journal article abstracts on the same topic you’re interested in writing about.

You can also gain more insight about how research papers flow by reading other author’s papers

Step 2: Organizational Phase
While you’re asking people for guidance and reading journal articles by other authors, try writing down everything you think might be of help for you when you begin writing. Make sure to include citation information, potential quotes you may want to use, summaries and any other journal articles that may be of interest for your research paper.

In this phase try doing the following:
** Develop a potential thesis statement
** Outline and brainstorm your research paper’s content (you may take a good chunk of time in doing this because this will be your guide in actually writing your drafts)
** Create a meaty bibliography (this is where all your references go)
** Inset notes in your outline and add references

Step 3: Drafting
Once you’re finished writing your thesis statement and outline, it is time to begin writing your first draft.

You can try out these basic steps so that you can be guided:
** If you’re having a difficult time with the introduction, try starting in the middle portion where the gist of your research paper really lies
** Make sure that you site everything
** Edit as you go
** Make tweaks on the outline if needed
** Get in breaks while writing. A good 15 minutes is good to rest your brain and keep it refreshed
** Start early to finish early. Don’t procrastinate

Step 4: Editing Phase
During this phase, you have the chance to remove and add parts in your research paper to make it better. Keep writing drafts until you feel more comfortable and more confident in your paper so that you can proceed to the final draft of your paper.

Try out these steps:
** Try reading your draft out loud and mark the parts that don’t sound right
** Pay attention at the punctuation marks and change anything that needs to be fixed
** Make sure that every part of the paper moves accordingly towards the topic
** Remove passive verbs if you can

Lois Weldon is writer at Uk.bestdissertation.com. She lives happily in London with her husband and lovely daughter. Adores writing tips for students. Passionate about Star Wars and yoga.

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Guest Blog – Inexpensive and Easy Science Fair Projects: Magnets – Experiment #3 – by Bruce

Is your science fair coming up, but you’re still not sure what to present for it? Trying to find a last minute idea without breaking the bank can be really frustrating but one simple tool- magnets can give you a few ideas!

This is experiment #3 in a 3 part series of fun, simple, inexpensive projects that will wow your judges at the science fair.

Maglev Technology

You may have heard about this before, especially with maglev trains — But did you know that you could easily create your own maglev train? Then, demonstrating that technology while using a ring magnet works just as well – and you could turn this demonstration into a unique experiment for your science fair.

* First, take two bar magnets and observe how they react when you touch each side of the pole to the other. Next, take a ring magnet on its flat side bring it to the north pole of one of the bar magnets. What happened: Does it attract or repel? The answer will tell you if the ring magnet was on its own north or south pole.

*Repeat this with another a ring magnet of a different size.
What happened: Do you notice any differences? Is the difference something you could measure?

*Now, take a spool of thread and place a pencil in the middle of the spool, standing vertically and slide one ring magnet onto the pencil with the ring magnet’s north side facing up. Then slide the second ring magnet onto the pencil so that the north side faces down.
What happened: Why do you think that is happening with the second magnet?

With the two ring magnets in this position, it will result in levitation of the second magnet.
Now, let’s turn this demonstration into an experiment:

Question: What is the effect of the ring magnet’s size (pick radius, diameter, circumference, weight, thickness, etc.) on the distance (measured in length) in which they repel?

Hypothesis: Predict what will happen BEFORE you conduct the experiment.

Experiment: Vary the size of the ring magnets and measure the distance of repulsion. More: Think about what other variable may effect the distance repelled and design more experiments to test their effects.

Bonus: See if you can figure out to use a magnetic compass to determine what end of a magnet is its north or south pole. This would be impressive for your class/teacher/judge presentation.

When you are feeling stressed or under pressure to come up with a great science project idea for your child, turn to magnets! These examples are just a few simple, inexpensive ways to a great science project.

Bruce Utsler is a freelance blogger and science enthusiast. He is currently studying to become an X-ray technician. He is an expert with magnets, particularly neodymimium magnets. When he isn’t busy studying or experimenting, Bruce likes to hit the streets with his longboard. –

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Guest Blog: 8 tips for writing your report – by Sandra

From Dr. Maille: Some schools require a report as part of your science fair project – this is especially true for higher level competitions. Even if you don’t have to write one, you should because it will help you prepare for your presentation. Ultimately, a well written report will help you stand out against your competition – so check out these great tips from Sandra:

8 tips to edit your work

If you want to distinguish yourself as a great writer, a step above just being good, you need to develop a key skill; the ability to edit your own work.

If you don’t have your own personal editor, you are on your own. Whether you want to be or not. No matter how much you may hate editing, do not skip this important step. The following tips will help make this undesirable task easier to handle.

1. Don’t Edit as You Go
We aren’t talking about fixing typos or rewriting the occasional sentence. Don’t go back and reread the entire chapter, or even the current section. You will always find things you want to change later, if you change it as you write, you will just end up doing it again later.

2. Give it a Rest
Sometimes you can be too close to a project to approach it from an editorial perspective. Try waiting a few days after you finish writing before you edit it your work. This will give you a chance to get the ideas you had when you were writing out of your head. If you are in a time crunch and don’t have a few days, at least wait an hour or two.

3. Change the Format
By reading your work from a different format, you will see the words in a whole new light. Printing a paper copy, or converting it to read on your tablet are great ways to change it up. Sometimes even just a different font and type size will help put things in a new perspective.

4. Look at the Big Picture First
On your first pass through the completed document, look for major content issues as opposed to dissecting each individual sentence. Look for these types of things:

● Sections that need major revision
● Chapters or sections that don’t belong at all
● Areas that need more clarification

5. Time to Face the Chopping Block
Chances are, if you are like most writers, you often like the sound of your own typing. On your second pass, look to cut the unnecessary fat from your work. Ten percent is probably a good target to shoot for. If you are wondering what needs to be cut, keep an eye out for these:

● Unnecessary words – descriptive language that doesn’t add any value
● Repetitive points – when you have said something once, that’s usually enough
● Weak language – things like “it is believed that…” or “in my humble opinion….”

6. Spell Check Plus
You should always use a spelling and grammar checker for your work. Be careful however not to rely on this tool alone. There is no substitution for good, old-fashioned proofreading. Spell checkers are great at what they do, but they can’t catch things like homophones and wrong word usage.

7. Slow Down
You may not be able to, but reading your document from the bottom up lets you concentrate on the individual sentence without getting bogged down in the content you already fixed. This last pass through your document should be checking for final formatting and spelling errors.

8. Know When to Stop
There will always be “just one more” thing to change, a comma to move, or a section that you think works better the way it was yesterday. If you find yourself changing things more than once, it’s time to stop.

Here is the cold, hard truth: the work is never going to be perfect. I know that’s hard for some of you to hear, but the sooner you come to terms with this devastating news, the sooner you can put down the proverbial red pencil and do something much more important, getting your report in on time.

Sandra Miller is edtech writer from Brooklyn and uses editing service Help.Plagtracker to make her writing perfect.

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