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Whatever grade you're in, you can come up with great science fair project ideas using the weather. Kids can do a science project illustrating clouds or demonstrating the effects of wind on paper air planes, for instance, In contrast, older kids can write a research paper, establish a scientific proof or do more advanced experiments.
You can learn a lot about meteorology, which covers a wide range of science skills. It's a gold mine for science fair projects.
Air pressure is the most popular science project topic. To predict the weather, you need to know the facts about atmospheric pressure.
Did you know that a foot square of air literally weighs a ton? Luckily, we have the same pressure inside our bodies pushing out - so we don't collapse!
Here are some science fair project ideas that involve atmospheric pressure. The first one is pretty dramatic! Here's a cheap wooden yard stick you don't need. You'll also need a full sheet of newspaper. Put the yardstick on a kitchen table so half of it sticks out. Lay the newspaper over the half of the stick on the table.
Now strike the yardstick hard. You might think the yardstick would fly up and throw the paper. The yardstick will break instead. How? It's because the air on the paper holds the opposite end down.
Here's another meteorology experiment that explains air pressure. Fill a gallon milk jug one-fourth with hot water. Make sure the lid's on tight. Let the water sit for several hours until it cools.
To start with, the air inside the jug is hot. The molecules of air move faster and spread out when it's hot. As the air cools, the molecules contract and the pressure on the outside of the jug forces the jug partially to collapse.
Meteorologists use barometers to measure air pressure. Barometric pressure can predict weather changes.
It's likely that a stormy system is coming through when the barometer drops. When low pressure and high pressure areas push up against each other, wind happens.
Later, it blows sideways - go figure!
You can get a lot of ideas from studying the weather. You can explore atmospheric pressure through a science project, but with a little imagination, you can do so much more!
Don't limit yourself to science projects. For example, they can be music. I've been doing those lately. Check out this YouTube video for an example.
- Crush an empty aluminum can to demonstrate the power of air pressure. You'll need a can, a heat source, and cold water to do this experiment. Fill the can with water and heat it on a stove or hot plate until the water boils. Turn the can upside down and submerge it in cold water. When the can cools, the steam inside condenses, creating a vacuum that crushes it.
- Experiment with a balloon inflator: You can see how air pressure affects balloon size. You just need a balloon, a straw, and a narrow-necked bottle. Hold the balloon over the bottle's neck and inflate it slightly. Inflate the balloon inside the bottle by blowing into the straw. During inflation, the air pressure inside the bottle decreases, allowing the balloon to expand.
- Ping Pong Ball Launcher Experiment: With a balloon and a plastic cup, you can make an air pressure launcher. A blown-up balloon is attached to the bottom of the cup. Put a ping pong ball in the cup, and then release the balloon. When the balloon deflates, the air pressure inside the cup decreases, propelling the ball forward.
- Create a simple vacuum chamber with a jar and a balloon to demonstrate how a vacuum cleaner works. Put the balloon over the jar's mouth and inflate it. Suck the air out of the jar with a vacuum cleaner. The balloon will get sucked into the jar as the air pressure decreases.
- Bernoulli's Principle Experiment: As a fluid's speed increases (like air), its pressure decreases. With a hair dryer and a piece of paper, you can demonstrate this principle. Put the paper flat in front of the hair dryer and turn it on. When the air blows over the paper, it creates a low-pressure area above the paper, causing it to lift. This is what makes planes fly.
- One last Experiment: Make a Cartesian diver using a plastic bottle, a straw, and a small weight. Put the straw in the cap and fill the bottle with water. Screw the cap onto the bottle and attach the weight to the straw. Increase the air pressure inside the bottle, which makes the weight sink. When you release the pressure, the weight will float back up.
Here are some fun science projects done by other readers. See 'em all here.
Got a great science project idea? Maybe you enjoyed one of these or found a successful one you enjoyed. Did it work? Was it something to do with weather?
Maybe you screwed it up like I did...and can laugh about it now. I'd like to help.
Was it fun? What grade were you (or your child) in? We'd all like to hear about it. That way you can re-live the memory.
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Ideas for Science Fair Projects - Discover and enjoy
Meteorology Science Fair Project Ideas: Let's investigate air properties! Make sure you have fun in the process.
Do you have concerns about air pollution in your area??
Perhaps modelling air pollution will provide the answers to your question.
That is what I do on a full-time basis. Find out if it is necessary for your project.
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