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There are plenty of science fair project ideas just waiting in your kitchen. Generally, it will mean you will be working with food: popcorn, potato chips, eggs, spaghetti, soda, maple syrup, red cabbage, and vinegar are just the beginning! Think about what special properties each one has and what “old-wives-tales” you have heard about a particular ingredient. Those all make great observations for creative science fair projects. Elsewhere on the site are detailed posts about popcorn and bubble gum. Here are two other ideas to get you started.
IDEA #1 Sugar & Spice:
Are you smarter than an ant?
I once saw a project in which the student claimed that NO ANTS would come near one of the brand name artificial sweeteners. Although I do not use any of them, I still found this disconcerting. Are ants smarter than we are –i.e., what do the ants know about that chemical that we don’t?
That is a great science fair project: Which artificial sweeter attracts the most/least ants? (OK – might want to do this one outside…)
You can take this idea and make it your own by asking a slightly different question:
Which spice repels ants the best?
Your creative challenge will be to design an experiment that evaluates how many ants avoid (or visit) an area (or item) with or without the spice in a measured amount of time (hint: “no spice” is the control). Don’t forget you need replication (3 times or 3 spaces – your choice).
IDEA #2 Ice Cream:
Was Erasto right or lucky?
This is one of those great stories in accidental science discoveries. Look up the story of Erasto Mpemba, a young boy from Tanzania who demonstrated that sometimes warm liquids freeze faster than cold liquids.
The key to making this an original idea for your science fair project is two-fold. First, it is hard to consistently determine exactly when an object is frozen. You will need to define how you will measure this (i.e, how will you quantify and measure this dependent variable?). Second, the interesting part is that it only works “sometimes” and we don’t really know why!! Erasto first observed the phenomenon with ice cream mix. Your challenge is to think about the variables you could manipulate (salt content, sugar content, milk content, starting temperature, volume, etc.) and ask that question. For example:
How does sugar content affect the Mpemba effect?
Here the control is a little trickier and will depend on the question asked. In my example, I would use a solution with no sugar (control) and then systematically add measured sugar amounts to other containers to eventually generate a dose-response curve. Also – don’t forget to replicate!