If you’re preparing high school science fair projects, chances are you’re at an advanced level of scientific knowledge, and ready to do something that will impress not only the judges, but possibly college admissions officers as well.
That means you’ll have to pick you topic very carefully. Be sure to ask around in the science departments at your high school to see what equipment is available for you, and ask if your teachers have any advice.
Project #1: Temperature and the Life Cycles of Frogs
These high school science fair projects test the rate at which tadpoles grow into frogs at different temperatures. Be careful – this experiment requires working with live animals, which will have to be released into the wild at the end.
- 5 buckets or aquariums with lids
- clean water (pref. rainwater or distilled water)
- boiled lettuce to feed animals with
- 5 thermometers
- large aquarium net
- reptile lamp
- refrigerator with plenty of room
- 25 tadpoles (available from biological supply companies)
1. Come up with your hypothesis – what do you think will be the optimal temperature for tadpoles to grow quickly into frogs? Why?
2. Fill each of the containers with clean, filtered water. Make sure you use the same amount of water in each container
3. Place 5 tadpoles in each container
4. Attach the reptile lamp to one container. Leave one at room temperature. Put one outside. Put one in the refrigerator. Put one in a cold, dark place such as a cabinet or basement closet.
5. Place a thermometer in each container
6. Wait an hour, then take the initial temperature of each container
7. Be sure to leave a supply of water next to each of your containers, since you will need to replace the water about once every two days, and it is important that the new water be at the same temperature as the old water.
8. Each day, return to check the temperature at all five containers and drop in a small amount of lettuce to feed the tadpoles (do not overfeed – if lots of lettuce is leftover, remove it from the container). Describe the tadpoles in each container.
9. Once every few days, take the tadpoles out one by one with the net and measure them. Record the average length of tadpoles in each container.
10. After a few weeks, your tadpoles will become frogs. Record the number of tadpoles in each container that has completed its metamorphosis.
11. Continue until all tadpoles have become frogs, then graph your data. What was the optimal temperature for fast growth?
Project #2: Building a Model Desert
Modeling an entire ecosystem is a complex project, but the results will be both edifying and impressive. Here are high school science fair projects based on putting together and maintaining an actual living miniature desert.
- Large terrarium or fish tank (at least 10 gallons)
- Watering can
- Coarse gravel or pebbles
- Incandescent 60-watt light (or reptile lamp)
- Several desert plants (esp. cacti and other succulents)
- Ruler or tape measure
1. Do some initial research on the plants that survive well in desert conditions. At your local nursery or landscaping supply store, ask for the types of plants that you identified in your research.
2. Fill the tank with a layer of gravel 1 inch thick.
3. Mix sand and soil together at a ratio of about 1 part soil to 3-5 parts sand, then put a 2-inch thick layer of this mixture over the gravel.
4. Cover the soil-sand mixture with another 1-inch layer of sand
6. Space out your plants in the terrarium. Research the density of desert plants that you use and try to replicate it.
7. Attach the lamp to the side of the terrarium and keep it on during daylight hours (use a timer if you wish).
8. Research the average (or minimal) annual rainfall in a desert. Calculate the average weekly rainfall and water the plants once per week with that amount of water.
9. Return once a day to measure your plants, record temperature, and make observations about your desert biome.
*TIP: To make these high school science fair projects the best they can be, try picking a specific desert to replicate. California’s High Desert, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and China’s Gobi Desert are good examples. Make sure that all of your plants come from that region, then figure out its annual precipitation and annual average temperature, and try to replicate those factors in your terrarium.
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