Do you have any science fair suggestions for Middle School students?

Here are some on-line Web resources you might find useful or inspiring to get your creativity going:

  1. HENA Ring Current - See clouds of plasma orbiting the Earth
  2. IMAGE/FUC - Auroral Oval - Check out the aurora from space.
  3. ACE solar wind speed,density,magnetism - What is the solar wind doing today?
  4. Aurora power (select FTP Site) - How powerful are aurora in terms of Watts?
  5. solar images/sunspots/multi wavelength - What does the Sun look like?
  6. Lunar phases 1117 to 2730 A.D. - What were or will be, the moons phases?
  7. solar eclipses 1999 B.C to 4000 AD - When was, or will be, the next solar eclipse?
  8. Sloan Digital Sky Survey - What does a particular part of the sky look like?
  9. Palomar Digitized Sky Survey - What does the sky look like at optical wavelengths?
  10. 2MASS images - What does the sky look like in infrared light?
  11. NGC/Messier/IC catalogues - What are some very bright, nearby galaxies?
  12. Near Earth Asteroids plots/orbits/catalog - Is a Doomsday Asteroid headed for Earth?
  13. Hipparcos Star Atlas - Were are the nearest 100,000 stars located?
  14. Pulsar Catalog - What is a pulsar and how fast do they spin?
  15. Sunspot Numbers 1755-today - How does the sunspot cycle change in time?
  16. Gamma Ray Bursts seen by BeppoSax satellite - Where are gamma ray bursts found?
  17. Gamma Ray Bursts seen by CGRO/BATSE - Where are gamma ray bursts found?
  18. Planet scale model calculator - How can I make a scale model of the solar system?
  19. Planet calculator - heliocentric - Where are the planets located from the sun?
  20. Solar System viewer (Orrery) - Where are all the planets located?
  21. Sky Viewer - Can you make me a sky map from any part of the world?

 

Here are some other suggestions that would work for students in Grade 8.

When do large bodies become round? (Intermediate)

Measuring the diameters and shapes of moons and asteroids to find out when objects in space become round like planets. Have a look at one of the online guides to solar system objects. Some of these, such as The Nine Planets, have an archive of planetary satellite dimensions and accompanying pictures. From the pictures, classify the satellites and asteroids according to how round they are, and compare this against their average diameter. Determine what the minimum size seems to be where objects become spherical. You need to invent a number which indicates the 'roundness' of an object, and then compare it to the average diameter of the object.

Sunspots and the Earth. (Intermediate)

How about looking for a correlation between sunspot numbers and various indicators of northern hemisphere weather. You can find the sunspot numbers on the web under 'Space Weather Forcasting'. You can also look for correlations between solar storms and geomagnetic storms on the earth. Using statistics and the methods of hypothesis testing, see whether you can find a correlation or not. Details available here! also, visit a Middle School Space Science Workbook for related ideas.

How far away is the Moon? (Intermediate)

Lets suppose you can take advantage of the Internet and get a 'pen pal' located a 1000 miles away in another city. On the same night, and at EXACTLY the same time 'Universal Time', make a CAREFUL observation of where the Moon is located with respect to the background stars. You should be able to discern a slight (about 1/2 the Moon's diameter) shift in position due to parallax. Then, with a little geometry, you could estimate the distance of the Moon during the full lunar cycle.

Full Moon and Crime. (Intermediate)

Do a study of whether the Full Moon is really correlated with more crime, more births, in your city by using reports in your local newspaper, or data at a local hospital or Police Department.

Water drains and the Coriolis Effect. (Intermediate)

Does water really go down the drain in opposite directions in the north and south hemispheres? Use contacts on the Internet in Australia, and other southern or equatorial countries to set up a data base of 'toilet flushes'!

Lunar Crater Counting. (Intermediate)

Get a good photograph of the Moon showing LOTS of craters and count how many craters you find in a range of diameter classes. Most of these craters were formed during the first billion years of the Moon's formation, so the frequency of craters you count can be related to the cratering time scale for that size range. Small craters are more frequent than large ones so the interval between small cratering events is just the number of those craters you count over the whole Moon, divided by 1 billion years. With this information, you could estimate the ages for some of the craters you find in which smaller craters are seen inside them.

Sunspots and Earth Weather Effects. (Intermediate)

How about looking for a correlation between sunspot numbers and various indicators of northern hemisphere weather. You can find the sunspot numbers on the web under 'Space Weather Forcasting'. For weather, try averaging the annual rainfall statistics from many dozen non-big city cites across the USA, or the number of hurricanes during the year, aurora, or other major weather events. Using statistics and the methods of hypothesis testing, see whether you can find a correlation or not. Visit the Middle School Space Science Workbook At the NASA IMAGE satellite web site for related projects.


Copyright 1997 Dr. Sten Odenwald

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