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Physics/Science fair working models


QUESTION: Hello Steve sir, sorry to disturb u with a small task but u got to help me! (sorry for my bad English)
I got to make 2 working models. First one, based on any law in Physics, and the other, based on any principle of Chemistry. It has to be "working" and innovative. Me is of Class 9 and want your help. I got about three weeks time and I have to exhibit both together. My teacher spoke that we got to make a "model" not a "demonstration" or "experiment". Please help Steve sir, I want to WIN this time in my school's science fair.

ANSWER: What do you mean by working model, then, instead of demonstration or experiment?  Just a theory that matches observations?  Or do you need something that physically works?  Generally science fairs (it's really past science fair season for normal science fairs) don't require that.  Tell me more, I'll take a break from grading finals later and try to help you out.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Steve sir for giving me time. Sir, by a "model", I mean that we have to keep it on a display rack, we have to make a chart about how it works, and then we have to stick this chart on the wall, just behind the model rack. All students and parents who come to see the exhibition will have to rad the chart and understand about the model, then work it on their own. It may be something that physically works, as you asked. So, did you get me Steve sir, because this is all I could explain in my silly English:)
Please help me Steve sir, I got to win this time WITH YOUR PRECIOUS HELP.

OK, something that has to physically work.  Again, that's not a normal requirement for a science fair project, but there are a variety of things you could do.  I personally like an experiment I created some years ago for my traveling science show.  It's based on a demonstration which is done at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where they have an air pump and a plastic ball.  The pump levitates the ball and Bernoulli's principle keeps it in the air stream.  The problem with the demonstration is that it's not very stable and the ball rattles around and out of the air stream.  So I modified it.  I use a balloon with about a teaspoon of water.  It's so stable I can lean the air stream over at a 45 degree angle and still the balloon will hang there, suspended in the air stream.  However, it's not an experiment, it's a demonstration.  So to make something you've seen that just looks cool like that into an experiment, you must answer a question.  The question can be simple, such as "how much water lets me lean the air stream to the greatest angle (most aerodynamically stable)?" or "what's the best size of balloon?"  For someone more advanced, you could ask both questions and answer them both at the same time with a two-dimensional data set.  This is a simple experiment, can be done with a hair dryer and a balloon (and some water or sand) which can be operated by people coming by.  The explanation of why is more complex, you may need a follow-up about Bernoulli's principle for that.

Anything you see can be made into an experiment if it answers a question.  Anything you've seen on youtube that's cool, just find a way to turn it into an experiment that answers a question...what if I modified this demonstration to do X?


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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