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Feedback Q&A on Science Projects

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 162 comments and questions on Science Project issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 10 letters




General Need hypothesis for experiment USA
Thermos Thermos loses more than 10 degrees USA
General Looking for a project at a research company Nigeria
General Experiment didn't work as expected USA
Mpemba effect Experiment on hot water freezes faster than cold water Japan
General Science project references USA
Matter States Ice cube experiment where children can observe USA
General Understand experiment on refraction Australia
Biology How do plants respond to sound? Nigeria
Thermos Make a thermos to keep a drink warm 3 hours Canada

Next 10


First 10 letters

Need hypothesis for experiment

Topic: General


May 4, 2010

URGENT!!! I need help by no later than Friday if at all possible...PLEASE! My daughters friend is doing a science fair project on: does Vitamin E slow down the aging process. Tools to be used: 3 plastic baggies, 3 rose petals or 3 orchid petals, vitamin E, water and air. Compared over a three day span. She is needing the hypothesis and purpose. She has no one to help her and she so scared that she isn't going to be able to finish on time and turn it in. Can you please help her and any other info about this project would be ever so helpful. We thank you in advance!!

rustina - USA



You already have the purpose of the experiment. "The purpose is to see if vitamin E slows down the aging process."

The hypothesis is an educated guess about what the person thinks will happen under the conditions of the experiment.

A possible hypothesis is: "If I put rose petals and orchid petals in a baggy along with some water and vitamin E, the petals will not age as much as those put in a baggy without the vitamin E over a three day period."

Note that if the results are not as expected, the experiment is not a failure. In such a case, she needs to guess why the results were different.

I hope that helps. Best wishes in her experiment.

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Thermos loses more than 10 degrees

Topic: Thermos


April 19, 2010

I need to make a thermos for school. I have used a paper cup from second cup and have insulated it with Styrofoam, tinfoil, duck tape and a fuzzy sock. I did the same for the cap. It is supposed to not lose more than 10 degrees. At the moment it is losing about 15. Can you suggest anything more that I can do to make it keep its heat? This is due tomorrow so a quick response would be so great!!


Stacey - USA



Since you have already started, you can add more insulation to the outside of your present thermos. Wrap it with bubble wrap or even newspaper and then hold it on with the duct tape. You can add about 1/2" to an inch or more insulation around your present configuration. Don't forget the bottom, as well as the cap.

If you have a thermometer sticking out to make your measurements, that is convenient. If you have to open the cap to measure the temperature, you will quickly lose or gain heat.

I hope that helps. Best wishes in your experiment.

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Looking for a project at a research company

Topic: General


April 4, 2010

hi, am a physics student in Nigeria and am on industrial attachment in a research company. and am required to pick a project topic and research on it. problem is i dnt no wat to do. am interested in practical stuff. finding out how things work. i was thinking of making a local solarpanel but i dnt know how possible it will be as i dnt even have an idea on how to make it. pls i need sugestions.

vanessa - Nigeria



Since you are on an industrial attachment in a research company, your project should be something that provides value to the company and that will help them in their work. I am sure there are many things within the company that are practical and that will allow you to learn how things work.

Your idea about doing research on making a solar panel could be interesting and a good project, provided the company is also interested in that type of work.

A good starting point is to check into the type of projects your research company is involved in, and then pick something interesting which would fit into their line of work.

Check with your supervisor or adviser to verify that this is the right approach to take.

I hope this gives you some ideas and that you will be successful in your project, as well as your physics career. Let me know how things turn out.

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Experiment didn't work as expected

Topic: General


April 3, 2010

I am writing you to get your assistance in helping my son come up with a conclusion to a science experiment that he is working on. His hypothesis for the experiment was the following. That if a force is applied to an object that is positioned on an upward slope, that the time it takes for the object to get from point A to B will be proportionally less for the same object propelled by the same force and distance down the slope. Well we did and experiment using his remote control car in my garage at work. We first selected a flat surface and measured out 13.7 meters (we picked that distance since that was the length of the ramp for the second half of the experiment) then we timed racing the car from point A to B. and the average time it took was 2.5 seconds. Next, we timed it going on the ramp downward and the average time was 2.3 seconds. Finally we time it going up the ramp and the average time was 3.0 seconds. Each time we charged the car up so it would have the same power. If his hypothesis was right the time it should have taken to go up the ramp should have been 2.7 seconds and not the 3.0 seconds. Now from the results of the experiment we know the hypothesis was not right. Problem is we know it is more complicated than we thought at first. From reading your website we believe there are several reasons contributing to the fact that the hypothesis is wrong. First, going up the ramp inertia and gravity are both working against the object. Second, we also believe that the efficiency of the machine is less going up the ramp. Are we correct in these two explanations? Or are we missing some other more important reason? Thank-you for your help.

Jeff - USA



That is a difficult hypothesis, since there are a number of factors involved. Reasons that the results were not as expected can be:

First of all, when the car was going down the ramp, was the electric motor adding to the speed, or was it holding the car back? In standard electric cars, the motor is often used to slow down the car when it comes down a hill. It would be good to time the car with the motor disconnected, as it rolls down the ramp.

Secondly, the incline of the ramp may be such that the electric motor has to work harder than it would on a level surface, thus reducing its efficiency, so that it goes slower than expected.

However, his experiment was not a failure. The hypothesis was an intelligent guess on some results. If the experiment is done in a controlled manner and the results are not as expected, you can do an analysis and draw conclusions on the reasons for the results.

I hope this helps.

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Experiment on hot water freezes faster than cold water

Topic: Mpemba effect


January 12, 2010

I need to do or have a experiment about which water freezes faster cold water or hot water. I want to know your experiment if you don't mind. I also have to have 3 science journals or news that is about this topic. I wish you give me some help .

Grace - Japan



For information on hot water freezing faster than cold water, see:

Best wishes in your experiment.

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Science project references

Topic: General


November 24, 2009

hello, i am a student working on a group science fair project and it would help us greatly if you could send us a literary review on your website and a bit about yourself and why you are qualified to be the author of this website (such as any educational degrees or your career relating to this subject). so please help us, thank you!
-students working on a project.




The School for Champions is an online resource intended to supplement studies in select critical academic subjects, provide strategies for success in various activities, such as business, career and personal development, and encourage you to give back and help others. The website is listed as a resource in 68 published books.

Ron Kurtus graduated in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. He taught Mathematics at the University of Missouri and Waukesha County Community College and Physical Science at the Milwaukee Area Technical College. He worked as a scientist at the Santa Barbara Research Center and for the U.S. Air Force.

Best wishes in success in your project. Let me know how things turn out.

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Ice cube experiment where children can observe

Topic: Matter States


September 27, 2009

I am conduction an experiment on the phases of matter. For my experiment I would like a detail step on ice cube experiment where children can observe the changes in phases

santa - USA



Checking an ice cube try in the refrigerator freezer section is not really a good experiment for seeing freezing in action.

One thing you can do is to get some dry ice, which is very cold. Beverage stores often sell it to keep drinks and food cold in the summer.

If you put a metal jar top filled with water on the top of a piece of dry ice, you should be able to watch the water start to crystallize on the top and start to turn to ice.

I hope this helps with your demonstration.

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Understand experiment on refraction

Topic: General


June 20, 2009

i need to understand the experiment on refraction. Is it possible if you can help?

sam - Australia



Refraction usually concerns the bending of light by glass. You can also have refraction of sound waves. There are various things you can do to show refection.

Which experiment on refraction are you talking about.

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How do plants respond to sound?

Topic: Biology


May 12, 2009

how does plants respond to sound?

usman - Nigeria



This subject is a good one for a science project. Since sound is a vibration in air, certain frequencies may help the plant grow. Other frequencies may hinder the growth. Some students have tried different types of music to see the effect on plants.

The effect of sound on plants is small. Extremely loud sounds may actually injure a plant.

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Make a thermos to keep a drink warm 3 hours

Topic: Thermos


March 18, 2009

With this learning and understanding, how could I make a thermos to keep a drink warm for over 3 hours by using materials i can find in my house. Or how would i make a vacuum to use a an insulator??

Danielle - Canada



You can wrap a container in insulating material such as Styrofoam, bubble wrap, a wool scarf, or layers of newspaper. It must be thick enough to keep the heat in. The cover must also be insulated.

You will have to experiment and try things out to see what works the best and how thick you need the material.

Look at the Answers to Readers' Questions to see what other students tried.

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