Earth Science Projects Archive

  • Pineapples and Proteins

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    Have you ever wondered how digestive enzymes work? How about the effects of food processing on some foods? In this project, the focus is the enzymes of pineapple. These enzymes are known as Bromelain, which is known to break down proteins. When you eat pineapples for dessert, you are helping your body’s digestive system deteriorate the complex proteins in your meal into simpler amino acids.

    These amino acids are vital in the production of protein-based molecules such as muscle tissue and neurotransmitters.
    Once bromelain is absorbed through the small intestines, it can reduce inflammation and irritation that causes imbalance and discomfort to your body. With the help of this project, you can see how bromelain works. Each step will test help assess the effects of Bromelain on protein.

    What you need:
    • A can of pineapple
    • A fresh pineapple
    • A liter or liquid Jell-O or a box of unflavored gelatin
    • A package of frozen pineapple
    • Goggles
    • Teaspoon
    • Test tube rack
    • 4 Test tubes

    How to do it:
    1. Get a mixing bowl and prepare the gelatin or the liquid Jell-O using the directions indicated on the package.
    2. Using a teaspoon, add 3 ml of liquid gelatin into each test tube.
    3. Use your 1st test tube as your control. Do not put anything in it but the gelatin.
    4. Place a piece of fresh pineapple into the 2nd test tube.
    5. Place a piece of canned pineapple into the 3rd test tube.
    6. Place a piece of frozen pineapple into the 4th test tube.
    7. Rest the test tubes on the test tube rack.
    8. Immerse the test tubes in an ice bath.
    9. Remove all the test tubes when the 1st test tube’s gelatin has already set.

    Analysis:
    Are there any differences among the 4 test tube setups? What have you observed? How did the pieces of pineapple affect the gelatin in each test tube? What can you say about the pieces of pineapples and how they affected the gelatin?
    You can modify this project by selecting another fruit that has a proteolytic enzyme like bromelain. Research it well. Device other methods by which you can observe how it acts on proteins.

  • How Plants Cool Down Houses

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    During hot weather, there is nothing better than to have a cool house to serve as your oasis. Aside from your air conditioning, plants can also contribute to making your home cooler.

    How do they do this?

    You’re about to find out!

    What you need:
    • A reflector lamp or the sun (the lamp should have a 100-watt incandescent bulb)
    • 2 shoe boxes or cardboard boxes
    • Different types of plants in their pots (ask your parents or grandparents if you can use their plants)
    • 2 functional thermometers (digital would be best)
    • 1 small can of dark colored paint
    • 1 small can of white paint

    What you do:
    There are a few steps you need to do in this experiment:

    Step I:
    1. Get your boxes and place them at an equal distance from the lamp for equal lighting.
    2. Place the thermometers inside your boxes.
    3. Position your plants between the lamp and one of the boxes, so that they cast a shadow over the boxes.
    4. Turn your lamp on.
    5. Measure the temperature of the air after a while. Which of the two boxes has a raised temperature? Find out if the temperatures change.

    Do you think the number of plants make a difference?

    Step 2:
    1. Paint one box black and one box white.
    2. Place them at an equal distance from the lamp for equal lighting.
    3. Place the thermometers inside your boxes.
    4. Position your plants between the lamp and one of your boxes, so that they cast a shadow over the box.
    5. Turn your lamp on.
    6. Measure the temperature of the air after a while. Which of the two boxes has a more elevated temperature? Find out if the temperatures differ. Do you think the number of plants that give shade to the boxes make a difference?

    Step 3:
    1. Place the plants between the lamp and one of the boxes, so that the plants cast a shadow that covers most of the box.
    2. Turn on your lamp.
    3. Be sure to measure the air temperature in each box over time. Which of the boxes has a more elevated temperature? Does the temperature fluctuate? Remove or add plants. You can even change the box they cover. Which box maintains the lowest temperature?

    What you discover
    During the summer, plants shield the interior of our homes from sunlight, making our homes a lot cooler. Trees give shade to a home with its branches and leaves. This decreases the sunlight that strikes the house, lowering its temperature. During winter, trees and smaller plants shed their leaves to allow more sunlight to enter the home, raising the temperature inside it.

    The color of your walls and roofing also affect your home’s temperature. Light colors make sunlight bounce off. These are ideal paint colors during the summer. Dark colors absorb sunlight. These colors are for winter.

    https://www.education.com/science-fair/article/plants-help-keep-house-cool/

  • CREATE MULTI-COLOR FLOWERS

    Have you ever wondered how those colored carnations got their hues? You can make different colored flowers that are unique from all others. All you need to do is purchase the flower you want.
    What you need:
    • White colored flowers (rose or carnation)
    • Water
    • Pair of scissors
    • Food coloring
    • Small cups
    How you do it:
    1. Pick the colors you want for your flowers.
    2. Get your cups and pour water in them.
    3. Drop your chosen colors into each cup or water. Just a few drops will not do. Make sure that the water becomes dark. This will give you the desired effect.

    4. Get your pair of scissors and cut a centimeter off the bottom of the stem.
    5. Immerse the stem into one of the cups, which you filled with colored water.

    6. Wait about twenty-four hours. [Sometimes the colors appear after just a few hours. Others take at least one to two days.
    *** If you want to create multicolored flowers, ask an adult to split the stem with a sharp razor. Dip the two or three divisions into different colors. This will produce a multicolored flower.

    The process behind this coloring effect in flowers is called transpiration. Transpiration is a process through which a plant absorbs water through its stem. When the water reaches the flowers and leaves, it evaporates through certain openings calls stomata. During evaporation, a pressure forms. This pressure pulls in more water into the plant. It is like a tree sips through a straw. On a hot day, some trees can transpire gallons of water. Light, wind, temperature, and humidity are the factors that affect the rate at which a plant transpires.

    A plant transpires faster when there is a bright light. This happens because the stomata open much wider, allowing more carbon dioxide into every leaf. Carbon dioxide is one of the ingredients in photosynthesis.

    In higher temperatures, transpiration is quicker. This is brought about by faster diffusion and evaporation.

    When the environment is windy, the diffusion of water vapor from the leaves is also quicker. This results in faster transpiration.
    In humid conditions, transpiration is slower. Once the leaves are surrounded by moist air, the diffusion of water vapor from the leaves slows down.

     

     

     

  • 3 Easy Science Projects for Young Kids

    Making Crystals

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    As a parent it’s imperative that your child has fun at school and develops a love for learning that lasts a lifetime. The best way to do this is by getting your child involved in science from a young age with the help of a few easy science projects for kids.

    Not only will kids love the hands-on experience it offers them, but they will also love how the projects get their creative juices flowing and soon desire to explore more about the world of science! Here are a few such science projects for your kids to do that are simple, but will get them hooked on the beautiful world of science!

     

    1.      Create Salt Crystals

    Crystals exist everywhere. They are in your salt, pencils and even your jewelry. So what can be more exciting to a child than growing their own crystals? There’s not much you need to grow crystals besides water, salt, a little patience and some time!

    Make a salt solution by filling a cup with warm water and adding salt to it until the water will not dissolve any more salt.  You will know you reached that limit when the salt just drops to the bottom and sits there. Now pour some of this solution on a saucer and let it sit for a while. The salt crystals form as the water evaporates and keep growing as you pour saltwater onto the saucer.

     

    2.      Grow Sugar Crystals

    Another fun Crystal growing technique is to do exactly the same as above, except use sugar.  Once you have a super saturated solution of water and sugar (same thing as saying the hot water you used to dissolve the sugar will not dissolve anymore of it and the sugar just sits on the bottom).  Now tie a string to a pencil and make the string just long enough to almost reach the bottom of the cup or glass. Set the pencil on the top of the cup and make sure the string hangs down into the sugary liquid.  Set it aside and look at it every couple of hours.  You will see the sugar crystals begin to form on that string.  After a day or two, you should be able to pull the string out and look more closely at the crystal formations.  And what’s cool about this project is you can eat that crystal when you’re done!

    And if you want to do even more on crystals, here are two other projects. But you will have to help a bit more on these … Make a crystal geode, and more home made crystals.

     

    3.      Understanding Water Tension

    Small insects can walk on water because of water tension, which you can show to your child through experiments using a glass, some water, a paperclip and some pennies. Fill a glass with water and drop the clip into it. Let it drop to the bottom, pull it out and gently lay it on the water. If done correctly, the paperclip floats on top of the water.

    The second experiment involves filling the glass with water and then carefully adding a few pennies to the glass, one at a time. The water starts rising over the glass in a dome shape, without spilling out. You can teach your child how a drop of dish soap can disrupt water tension when the water tension ‘breaks’ on adding the dish soap, and water starts spilling over the glass edges.

    See! These experiments are not only easy to conduct; they are preformed using everyday things any child can find and use at home!

     

    … Or … Here are some kits you can buy to make crystals as well:

     

    Or for just great info on crystals …

     

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  • Soil Erosion Science Project

    soil erosion

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    Soil erosion happens when wind or water carry soil away. This is a natural occurrence, but the process is sped up in areas where the land has been misused. Soil erosion occurs much faster in places where plant cover has been removed because of logging, burning pastures, too many animals, or bad farming practices. In addition to the loss of soil, any agricultural chemicals or other pollutants in the soil are carried into water sources causing damage there as well. The formation of soil from the breakdown of organic matter takes a long time, but that soil can be carried away by erosion in a relatively short amount of time.

    In this experiment, we will discover how the shape of the terrain affects erosion as well as how plants and trees help to prevent it.

    Materials Required

    • 3 foil or plastic pans (at least 8×8)
    • A pitcher of water
    • 6 cups of play sand
    • 16 oz. Styrofoam cup
    • Pencil or pen
    • Paper towels
    • Journal (to record findings)

    Procedure

    Set your 3 pans side by side 6 to 8 inches apart.

    Place 2 cups of sand into each pan.

    Shape 2 of the sand piles into mountains in the middle of their pan. Flatten out the 3rd pile so that the bottom of the pan is entirely covered.

    Make a prediction of what you think might happen if rain were to fall on the mountains and what your think might happen if rain fell on the flattened out sand.
    Write your predictions down in the journal.

    Use the pencil or pen to puncture the bottom of the Styrofoam cup. Cover the hole with your finger and then fill the cup half full of water from your pitcher.

    Holding the cup around 12 inches above the pan with the flattened sand, move your finger and allow the water to trickle out onto the sand. When the cup is empty, examine the sand and record your findings in your journal.

    Repeat the procedure explained in step 6, but this time trickle the water onto one of the pans with the mounded up pile of sand. Remember that the experiment must be conducted exactly the same on all of the pans for accurate results so be sure to fill the cup half full and hold it the same distance above the sand. Watch what happens when the water trickles onto the mountain of sand and record what happens in your journal.

    Take your paper towel and lay it over top of the last mountain of sand. The paper towel represents the brush, grass, and other plants that would grow on a real mountain. Again, fill your cup half full of water and hold it 12 inches above the mountain and let the water trickle out onto the towel covered mountain until it is empty. Record what happened to the mountain that was covered with simulated plant life.

     

    Review your Findings

    Did you correctly predict what would happen with each pile? How did the shape of the sand influence how much erosion occurred? Of your three pans, which one had the most erosion and which had the least?

    You’ll probably notice that the paper towel covered mountain had the least amount of erosion. This demonstrates how the roots of plants help to hold the soil in place and protect it. The roots act almost like glue to hold the soil together so that wind and rain cannot carry the soil away as easily. Without plants, the soil will be carried away much more rapidly.

    Wind, rain and rivers can wear away topsoil quickly as can be seen by the below photos.  And when you finished this project, try some of the others in the Earth Science Category …

     

    River Erosion

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Wind Erosion

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Make your own Stalactites and Stalagmites

    Stalagmites and Stalagtites

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    Make your own Stalactites and Stalagmites

    Stalactites and stalagmites are both mineral formations that develop in limestone caves. One comes down from the ceiling and the other comes up from the floor; which is which? A good way to remember is their spelling. Stalactite has a “C”, for ceiling and stalagmite has a “G”, for ground. The stalagmite comes up from the ground and the stalactite comes down from the ceiling. They are both formed when water dripping from the ceiling leaves traces of calcite and as the water evaporates, the calcite is left behind to form a stalactite. When the water hits the floor, the same thing happens and the stalagmite begins to grow up. Over time, the stalactite and stalagmite often grow to meet each other and form a stone column in the cave.

    You can re-create this occurrence in your own home with just a few household products and some patience.

    Materials

    • Two glass jars (pint canning jars work well)
    • A saucer or glass plate
    • Natural fiber yarn or twine (cotton or wool will both work)
    • Epsom salts or baking soda
    • 2 medium sized fishing sinkers or something similar to weigh the ends of the string down

    Procedure

    1. Fill both of the jars with very hot tap water.
    2. Dissolve as much baking soda or Epsom salts as you can into each jar (it may take a lot) until the liquid is completely saturated (won’t hold any more).
    3. Twist two or three strands of your natural fiber together and attach your fishing sinkers or other weight to each end of the string.
    4. In a warm place, set the two jars side by side about 6 inches apart and place the saucer or plate in between them.
    5. Place one end of each string into a jar making sure that at least two inches of the string is submerged and that the string hangs down in between the jars rather than being stretched tight. The lowest part of the string should only be a few inches above the saucer. After some time, the solution from each jar should soak into the string and drip from the lowest section of string onto the saucer.
    6. Check on the jars periodically during the next few days and see what happens.

    What will Happen?

    Over a period of days, the dripping solution will leave behind traces of soda or Epsom salts as the water evaporates and you’ll notice a tiny stalagmite and stalactite beginning to grow. With time, the two may come together to form a single column the way it would in a cave. Your stalagmite and stalactite will be much more fragile than those that form in caves however.

    If you have time, a very similar project is growing your own crystals, and making sugar candy.

     

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  • Insect Memory Science Experiment

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    Have you ever wondered how bees remember where to find food? Bees don’t have sharp vision like we do but they do see polarized light (this tells them direction based on the suns location). They also recognize patterns both natural and man-made. Some bee keepers will draw a pattern on a new hive so that the bees know which one is theirs (since all the hives look the same from the outside). Knowing that bees recognize patterns and symbols let’s see if you can fool them or if they truly remember.

    What You Need:

    5 large index cards
    5 small dishes (like petri dishes)
    5 zip-lock bags
    1/2 cup sugar
    A permanent marker
    1 cup water

    Procedure:

    On each of the index cards draw a symbol. This can be a shape or number or anything as long as it is bold and noticeable.
    Place the cards inside the zip-lock bags so they do not get ruined outside.
    Set the bags outside in a sunny spot in your yard.
    Place one dish near each symbol.
    Mix up the “nectar” that you will use. To do this you will want to heat the water until it nears the boiling point. This can be done by placing it in the microwave for 60-90 seconds. Now stir the sugar into the water until it all dissolves.


    Place the sugar water in one of your dishes. Fill the other four with regular water.
    Over the next few days watch and see how long it takes the bees to find the dish with sugar water.
    After they have been feeding for a few days move the dish to a different symbol. Take note of the reaction of the bees, how long does it take them to find the right dish again?
    Once they have found it and used it for a couple of days try leaving the dish where it is but switching out the symbol near it. How do the bees react to this?

    You should see a pattern of sorts developing, it will paint a picture of how bees (and other insects) remember where to find food. It will also tell you what they use more, sight or one of their other senses. Here is another experiment that you may like, teling you how insects may be beneficial.

  • Beneficial Insects For Your Garden

    Borage Plant in Bloom

    Beneficial Insects For Your Garden

    The amount of time spent on this project can vary. If you choose to plant your plants from seeds, it will take longer before you can actually begin your project unless you watch from the time your plants sprout. You can also choose to get plants that are already grown and simply transplant them into the garden that you’re watching. The idea here is to attract certain types of insects to your garden that are beneficial to the entire garden.

    Question: When you plant specific plants in your garden, does it increase the number of beneficial insects? Are there certain plants that attract these insects?

    Materials:

    • Insect ID book
    • Tape measure
    • Borage plants – 5
    • Notebook and pen
    • Timer or watch

    Instructions:

    1. Bugs love flowers. Flowers attract insects and many times those insects are beneficial to the garden. Some insects, such as bees, help pollinate crops. Other insects will eat the insects that are trying to eat your crops. So, which insects are good and which ones are bad?
    2. If you place certain plants in your garden, will it increase the good insects? Begin by creating your hypothesis and tell us what you think will happen.
    3. You will want to do this experiment during the spring, summer or early fall. Basically when there are plenty of insects around.
    4. You should begin before adding your plants to the garden. Sit outside and pay attention to what insects are frequenting your garden already. Take note of the species and what they’re doing. You need to identify them and write them down in your notebook. If you have trouble, this is where your insect identification book will come in handy.
    5. Mark off a small section of the garden and do a timed experiment. In a 3’x3′ area on a sunny day, take about 30 minutes to seriously observe what insects enter your sectioned off area. Make sure that you note the time in your notebook because you’ll be doing this again on another day and will want to watch at the same time of day.
    6. Write down the number of insects that you see in that 30 minute period. What type and how many of those insects are in your area? Document it.
    7. Once you’re done doing the timed experiment, plant your borage in that sectioned off area. In this experiment, we are going to plant 5 borage plants that are already in bloom to save time. Make sure that you water them and then leave them alone to adjust to their new environment. This will take about 3 days.
    8. Wait for a day that is as sunny as the first day that you went out to observe. Count the number of insects that enter the plot area beginning at the same time that you observed last time. So if you observed from 12pm to 12:30pm, make sure that you observe at the same time this time too. Are there more insects? Are there less? What kinds of insects are there? Are there any new ones?

    End result:

    The plants that you placed into your garden should have attracted more beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are vital to a well-tended garden. We may water and use plant food, but beneficial insects help to keep the garden healthy by eating the bad insects that will destroy your plants. Some of these insects also help the soil in your garden.

    For example:

    If your garden is full of aphids, you will want to lure more ladybugs into your garden because ladybugs eat aphids. This action will help to bring balance to your garden. Anything that helps to pollinate your flowers is also a beneficial insect. This doesn’t mean that it has to be bees.

  • Make Your Own Salt Flats Science Project

     
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    Evaporites are rocks that are formed when minerals are left behind when water evaporates. This is how salt flats are formed. The earth was once covered by giant inland salt lakes. Over time these lakes dried up, but when the water evaporated the salt had nowhere to go, what is left behind is a wide expanse that is incredibly flat, and is comprised of a thick layer of salt (and other minerals).

    Because of this high concentration of salt almost nothing will grow on these flats, making them seem almost like a giant white desert.

     

    This experiment will show you how a salt flat is formed.

     

    salt-51973__340Materials

    • One large glass or ceramic pie dish or baking dish.
    • Four cups of hot water (be careful not to get burnt).
    • Two cups of salt.
    • Two tablespoons of baking soda.
    • Two tablespoons of soil.

    Procedure

    1. Stir one cup of salt as well as one tablespoon of baking soda and dirt into one cup of hot water. Stir the mix slowly until all the salt dissolves completely, let this sit for one minute, then slowly stir it again and let it sit for one minute.

    2. Pour the mixture into your dish and let it sit somewhere that it will not be disturbed. Placing it in the sun or another heat source will speed up the process. Once the water evaporates completely you will have a layer of sedimentary rock on the bottom of your dish.

    3. Repeat step one and two without using any baking soda or soil and using only half a cup of salt. Once this evaporates you should have a heavier layer of sediment that looks cleaner and is comprised of larger crystals.

    Finally, complete steps one through three again.

    gardening-690940__340You should now have your very own model of a salt flat. You will notice layers of clean and dirty “strata” or layers of sediment. It is in this way that many of the worlds salt flats have been formed.
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
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  • What Type of Rocks are Most Damaged when Frozen?

     
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    There are three main types of rocks, sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. Each type can be found readily in most parts of the world, one only needs to know where to look and how to identify them.

    stacking-stones-667432__340

    Sedimentary rocks are formed by layers of sediment collecting over time and hardening into stone.

    The most common form of this type of rock is sandstone, which is found readily almost everywhere. Metamorphic rocks are those that were at one time one of the other two types, but due to heat, pressure or other outside forces their fundamental makeup has change, examples would be marble or shale.

    Finally, we come to Igneous, these are rocks that have been formed when magma from volcanos cool, such as granite or pumice. In some areas this may be the hardest type of rock to find, however don’t get discouraged, if you cannot find one you can always purchase one online or from a craft store (that sells stones for polishing or jewelry).

     

    During this experiment, you are going to discover which type of rock is most damaged when frozen. All stone will be damaged to some degree by being frozen in water, because the water makes its way into tiny fissures in the stone. Then when it freezes it expands, exerting outward pressure on the stone.

    It is important for us to know how different stones react to being frozen, for instance you wouldn’t want to make the foundation of a building out of a stone that is going to crumble the first time it freezes.

     

    torres-del-paine-303400__340Materials

    • Sedimentary rock (sandstone or limestone)
    • Igneous rock (granite or pumice)
    • Metamorphic rock (slate or marble)
    • Several water bottles (one to hold each type of stone)
    • Water
    • Access to a freezer

     

     

    Procedure

    1. Cut the top off each of the water bottles.
    2. Place a different type of stone into each of the bottles (be sure to label the bottle with the type of stone).
    3. Completely submerge the stones in water.
    4. Place the bottles in the freezer, allow 24 hours to ensure the water is completely frozen.
    5. Remove the bottles and let them thaw.
    6. Repeat the process, freezing each bottle 3-4 times.
    7. Record your findings, which stones were most damaged and what state are they in now?

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