Director's Choice Science Fair Project Ideas
From time to time I come up with, or come across, a project idea / concept that I will notate below. These ideas will only be in hypothesis type format, and will not have any hard conclusions available. They are of the substance of ideas that there has been no known or very little research done. Please feel free to take these ideas and "run with them". But keep this in mind - As Director of the Louisiana Region 5 Science and Engineering Fair, I in no way get involved with the Judging, nor do I have any influence on the decision of the Judges. I do not know who the winners of the awards are until I am handed the list at the beginning of the awards ceremony. In other words, don't research any of these ideas just because I suggested them.
- Earth Science - Scientists have not be able to accurately predict when, or where, earthquakes will occur. Believe it or not, there appears to be on the average of 10 recorded tremors throughout the world on any given day. The depths of these disturbances can be anywhere from a few miles to 600+ miles. In 2003 there were several major ( 7+ magnitude ) quakes that took place in various spots of globe. Shortly afterward, there seemed to be a rash of minor to moderate quakes in other areas of the world. Does a major quake set off or trigger other quakes in other quake prone areas? If a major quake takes place at the 300 mile level, and if there is an increase in quake activity in the days following this event, then at what depth do they normally occur? What, if any, is the correlation? I would suggest starting out at the following site: http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/bulletin.html. This link to the USGS has a great database of historical data that could be used. You might want to consider drawing up or designing some type of global 3D model to depict the results of your research. While you are collecting the information, a few other good questions are, "Is there a time of year that the frequency of increase? Is there any comparison to this frequency in regard to the Northern and Southern hemisphere?" Anyway, go for this if you are into doing some fascinating research. Added Note: I recently (Early December) stumbled across an interesting site - http://www.syzygyjob.com/. The scientist here has done a lot of research in earthquake predictions in correlation to tidal activity. He forecast the December quake in California, Oregon, and the 7.0 in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Check out the site and read up on the concept. When someone goes 3 for 3 in a 7 day period, he has my vote of confidence. An added suggestion is to make a graphic 3D model of yearly earthquakes. The model would be based on depth and location (lat / long). You might be able to show that a sizable quake at a certain depth will set off another one at about the same depth. For example, on December 23, 2004, there was a 8.1 North of Macquarie Island at a depth of 10 KM. Three days later there was a 9.0 off West Coast of Northern Sumatra, also at a depth of 10 KM. Maybe design a software program that could be used to download information about recorded quakes (location, strength, depth, etc) and automatically plot each one in 3D. Good luck!
- Earth Science - Here is an idea that would take a good bit of data collection and research. As many of you know, I have been a meteorology enthusiast all of my life. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in SE Louisiana the reported barometric pressure was 915 mb with reported sustained winds of 145 - 150 mph (Category 4) Relating to the following Category 5 storms that made landfall on the continental US, the Great Labor Day Storm of 1935 (bp - 892 mb with estimated winds of 190 mph), Hurricane Camille 1969 (bp - 909 mb with estimated winds of 200 mph), Hurricane Andrew 1992 (bp - 922 mb with estimated winds of 160 - 165 mph). If you drop down to Hurricane Donna in 1960 - Category 4 - the bp was at 930 mb. Is there a direct relation between hurricane barometric pressure and its wind speed? It is somewhat proportional? An initial look see of data indicates to me that it is. (So why were Katrina's winds reported to be 145 mph when the bp was at 915 mb?) I would suggest collecting public advisory data on as many hurricanes as possible. Chart the bp fall with the wind increase to see if the graphs are proportional. Hurricanes advisories are issued at 6 hour intervals. (3 hour intervals when in close proximity to the US mainland) You might also correlate this data with how far hurricane and tropical force winds extend outward from the center in these storms. (see if you can establish a pattern) As I am typing this, Hurricane Rita - Category 5 - has just been reported to have sustained winds of at least 165 mph with a bp of 914 mb. Was Katrina the storm that did not follow typical trends? You might consider the research. I have a few more thoughts on this so if you decide to give this a try and need some help, drop me an email.
- Earth & Science - One of my hobbies, ever since I was doing science projects in the 4th grade, is weather. (In particular SEVERE weather) It is on my agenda to, some spring, take a Tornado chasing tour in Oklahoma. But in the meantime, I monitor Nexrad Radar, via WeatherTap, in the SW Louisiana area. Over the years I have noticed when a strong front, or area of severe thunderstorms, approaches the Lake Charles area, a great majority of the time the storm cells will either dissipate or deviate off track before striking the metropolitan area. I have noted this most of the time when the weather is coming from the southwest. Base reflectivity is a good monitoring point for what I am talking about. What, in the natural landscape, or man-made landscape, might, if at all, be causing this to take place? Does Big Lake have anything to do with this? To do this type of research would require a long period of weather monitoring. (Over a year's period). There are other weather services out there that are free of charge that have radar loops from which this could be studied. (AccuWeather, Lake Charles Weather Bureau, Intellicast, etc.) You would want to save these animated gif loops to your computer for study and comparison. These would also be used for display data for your project. Don't stop at just Lake Charles. Look at loops in other major metros of the country and see if you can tell if it is happening elsewhere. I am not saying that this always happens. But it happens enough to throw up a red flag. If you are a weather nut like I am, you might start watching this closely. You might end up discovering something of meteorological importance!
Reprinted with the permission of the Louisiana Region 5 Science and Engineering Fair. © 2008 Louisiana Region 5 Science and Engineering Fair.
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