Science Project:

New Wives' Tales

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The goals of this project are:

  1. To determine the effectiveness of ancient remedies.
  2. To compare each remedy to its modern-day counterpart.

Research Questions:

  • What ancient remedies are still in use today?
  • How are medical treatments tested?

Long ago, the opal was considered a predictor of illness. This may sound whimsical until we understand that the opal loses its shine as temperature increases. Thus, an opal tucked under the armpit of a healthy person will be shinier than an opal tucked under the armpit of someone running a fever. In other words, the opal was the world's first thermometer. In this project you will analyze completed scientific studies of ancient treatments and remedies, and explain how they work, or how they don't.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/hobby/hardware/craft supplies (paper, poster board, glue, etc.).

Experimental Procedure

  1. Read overview of relevant topics (see bibliography below)
  2. Address all of the terms and research questions mentioned here.
  3. Search and print out images relevant to your topic.
  4. Take photographs throughout the course of the experiment.
  5. Select a number of ancient medical treatments as the subject of your study.
  6. Create a visual chart that categorizes ancient remedies and illustrates the effectiveness of these treatments.
  7. Explain your reasoning in a detailed report.
  8. Include photos, diagrams, models and artifacts in your science fair display.

Terms/Concepts: Alternative Medicine; Eastern Medicine; Herbalism; Western Medicine


Author: Judee Shipman
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