Science Project:

What a Drag!

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Problem:

What is the effect of detergent pollution on fresh water birds’ ability to stay afloat?

Materials:

  • Store-bought white feathers
  • Wide bowl
  • Blue food coloring
  • Household detergents
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Tweezers

Procedure

  1. Fill a wide bowl with water.
  2. Add blue food coloring.
  3. Carefully float a feather on the water.
  4. Wait one minute and gently wipe a cotton swab across the surface of the feather.
  5. Use tweezers to remove the feather and let it dry on a paper towel.
  6. Add two tablespoons of detergent to the bowl and stir without making bubbles.
  7. Carefully float a second feather on the water.
  8. Wait one minute and gently wipe a cotton swab across the surface of the feather.
  9. Examine the swab and record your observations.
  10. Use tweezers to remove the feather and let it dry on a paper towel.
  11. Repeat for different household detergents.
  12. Compare the results and determine if one brand or type is better or worse for a bird's buoyancy.
Author: Jane Healey
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