You are what you FEED

Ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat?” Well, it turns out that you are actually feeding much more than just yourself. You are made up of microbes!

Only around 1–10 trillion cells in your body actually belong to you. Trust me, that´s a tiny number. in fact, it´s only 10 per cent of your cells.

Yikes! What´s the rest? (By the way, this topic makes good Science Projects, if you write it up the right way.)

Well, although 10–100 trillion cells are microbes (single-celled organisms) that live in your gut, they´re actually there for your own protection. They´re also much much smaller than a human cell (like a basketball next to an apartment building) so they´re nothing to be afraid of.

These tiny helpers break down carbohydrates that we cannot digest and make vitamins to make us healthy. In return, we give them a warm place to live where they can make little copies of themselves (baby microbes) and do whatever it is that microbes like to do. They sound like Science Projects don´t they!

Funnily, in the days when food was scarce, having these microbes was great. They get a lot more energy out of our food for us than we can get alone. NOW though, there is a lot of food for us to eat and we might be a bit skinnier if these tiny helpers would find somewhere else to live

In total, these 10 – 100 trillion microbes only weigh around 3lb. That´s not much for a whole lot of these little guys!

For tips on writing up winning Science Projects, take a look at our other articles

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Are SUVs safe?

You know those big cars called SUVs or 4WDs. They´re a bit like trucks and they´re designed to drive off-road, in mud. We mostly see them being driven on suburban streets though, to pick the kids up from school or shop for groceries.

They feel really safe to be in. You are sitting up high and can see the road. There´s a lot of space around you so you don´t feel crowded by the other cars. You can see everything on your way to the Science Fair!

But are they really safe?

Unfortunately, no.

SUVs have a high center of gravity. This means that a lot of their weight sits higher than other cars. When you take them out of their Stable Equilibrium Zone (when you drive them really fast and try to tip them over), they roll much more often than a normal car. You can demonstrate this principle at your next Science Fair if you like.

They´re also a lot heavier. This increases their braking distance and means they are harder to turn. Try to imagine two animals that are about the same size – but one is much heavier than the other. Like a horse and a rhino. If they were both running and had to turn quickly to avoid something, which one do you think would do better?

The lesson: Don´t drive a rhino!

PS: It´s Science Fair season again and you might like to read the best way to win one!

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Why does a cat always land on its feet?

Or does it?

Well, the answer in almost all cases is YES, cats do land on their feet! They even survive.

The record for the longest fall a cat has survived is 42 floors. Yep, 42 floors. This unfortunate tabby fell out of an apartment window in New York City.

In fact, these falls happen so often that there is a name for it: High Rise Syndrome and vets see around 200 cases every year of cats that have slipped out of their owner´s windows!

By the way, don´t look at your cat if you are looking for science fair project ideas!

But why are they able to land on their feet and why don´t they get hurt?

It´s all in the way they are built. A cat is like a springy universal joint. A slinky, if you know what that spring-type toy is.

When a cat falls, their front and back legs are pointing straight up and they´re stretched straight out. This is from the fright!

While the cat is in mid-air, they pull in their front legs. Then they rotate them (turn them) 60 degrees clockwise. This FORCES their back legs to rotate 30 degrees anticlockwise (in the opposite direction).

Then they straighten out their front legs again and turn them 30 degrees anticlockwise (yep, its all getting like a pretzel, but they´re not finished yet!). This movement makes their BACK legs turn 60 degrees clockwise.

But they´re not finished yet! They repeat this whole twisty-turny process 5 more times.

Why? Because 5 times 30 degrees is 180 degrees… A half-circle. So after 5 twists, they are facing the ground.

After this, they just kind of hang around and wait for the fall to finish.

When they hit the ground, they put their front legs down first. A cat´s body is one of the world´s best shock absorbers. After the front legs have touched the ground, they let the shock ripple through their back and torso. While this is happening, they crouch as low to the ground on their front paws as they can. When their back legs hit the ground, they are already beginning to stand up in the front paws.

It´s kind of like they are shaking water off, only in this case they are shaking off a lot of force.

(Warning: For science fair project ideas, do not try this with any animal, especially a turtle. They don´t bounce)

Kitty stands up and usually walks away unharmed. Applause!

The amazing thing is that all of this does need a lot of time. Not all falls are from great heights. A cat can do all of this in a fall of less than one meter (about 3,3 feet).

And you thought all they did was lie around in the sun!

For great science fair project ideas, be sure to visit our other sites.

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Ever heard of Nikola Tesla?

Probably not, but I bet you´ve heard of Thomas Edison.

Nikola Tesla was as famous in his day as Albert Einstein. Alot of people think that Tesla, not Edison, is the father of electricity. Edison and Tesla spent a lot of time arguing (they were rivals) and some of their time working together.

(Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla both spent a lot of time making Electrical Conductors as Science Experiments)

The biggest problem that Tesla had is that he thought electricity should be free. Yep, free! Unlike Edison, who spent most of his time looking for ways to make money, Tesla was looking for a way to ´broadcast´ electricity. That means that everyone could just take electricity out of the air – the same way we do with mobile internet.

If you like, you can learn how to make your own Electrical Conductors as Science Experiments.

Wanting electicity to be free was not very popular with the people who like to charge for it. Tesla didn´t care about money, and that made him a bit strange to lots of people. In fact, twice when Thomas Edision´s business needed some BIG help, Tesla figured out the answers that Edison wasn´t able to. He didn´t even get mad when Edison refused to pay him!

Tesla is the unsung hero of electricity. He invented the Alternating Current (that´s the ´AC´ bit in AC/DC. You will find out all about that if you make an Electrical Conductor as a Science Experiment.Tesla also told us alot of what we we know about robotics, remote control, radar, ballistics and nuclear physics. And this is all in a time when having a light bulb in your house was a really big deal!

If you like science, you have to like Nikola Tesla.

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Smart People Live Longer

 It´s true! People who have a high IQ live longer than people who have a lower IQ. An IQ is a number you get when take an Intelligence Quotient test. It is supposed to show how smart you are.

It doesn´t matter if you have a high IQ or a low IQ when it comes to dying naturally. Heart disease, cancer and those sort of things affest everyone in basically the same way. But ACCIDENTAL deaths are another story. A study done in Sweden showed that accidental deaths (like poisoning, drowning, falling off tall buildings) happen more often to people with a low IQ. This means that more people with a low IQ die than people with a high IQ! Maybe you could study something like this in a Science Fair Project

It is not a nice thought, but the Swedish scientists think that people with a low IQ you are more likely to get into dangerous situations. This might be because of the work that they have to do. Or It might be because they are not very good at thinking about things before they do them. (Thinking about things before you do them is pretty important in any good Science Fair Project. )

Whatever the reason, I don´t think the Darwin Awards will be going away in a hurry. If you don´t know what the Darwin Awards are: they are awards that are given out every year posthumously (posthumously is when someone is already dead). A Darwin Award is given to people who have died in really dumb ways and have done the human race a favour by taking themselves out of the gene pool. It´s mean, but pretty funny! These award recipients are not going to be putting together this year´s winning Science Fair Project

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The biggest fireworks display you´ll ever see

Ever seen an explosion that is as bright as a million trillion suns? Well, there was one last September, but don´t be too upset if you didn´t see it. It happened twelve billion light years away, so Earth won´t get to see the fireworks for around.. twelve billion years. This is because when you SEE something, you are seeing the LIGHT that bounces off from it. Light is fast. The fastest thing there is, but it still takes time to travel. The distance light travels in one year is called a light year (not very surprising!).

If we can´t see it, how do we know this explosion happened? Well, the guys and girls at NASA are a curious bunch. One science project of theirs was to stick a special telescope onto a rocket. This telescope was built to look for a Gamma-Ray burst. A Gamma-Ray burst is the strongest explosion we know of and scientists LOVE them!

The Earth´s atmostphere blocks our view of Gamma-Ray Bursts. In one way this is a good thing (we might fry if all that energy could reach us). In another way, it´s a bit disappointing: there is NO fireworks display like a deep-space Gamma-Ray burst!

No-one really knows yet what causes Gamma-Ray Bursts. One theory is that the energy is released when a star gets too big and collapses. In other words, when a Black Hole is born! Still, scientists are still guessing. But that´s what science is – finding the answer to a question. Showing HOW you found the answer is what makes a good science project

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What is Science anyway?

It´s Science Fair Season again. Before you decide what you would like to do your Science Project on, you might like to ask yourself exactly what science is all about.

There´s no simple answer to this one, but one idea is: When you look around your world, you will probably have questions. Science is just a word for the ways you find the answers. You don´t need to be super-intelligent to be a good scientist. You don´t really need any special equipment. You don´t even need to give up your religious beliefs. All you need is curiosity – and Ba-Boom! You have yourself a couple of Science Projects.

One of the most famous scientists, Albert Einstein, once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” I´ve never spoken to him myself, but I think I understand what he means. He was talking about the creative side of science: without daydreams, there are no ideas and without ideas, there are no hypotheses. (A hypothesis is like a guess answer to a question. A good scientist will first ask “why (does something happen)?” When you have brainstormed some solutions, you pick one idea and test it. That´s called testing your hypothesis. Even the craziest ideas might be right. After all, it was only a few hundred years ago that Copernicus first thought “what if the world was round?” Now that was one of the best ever Science Projects!

There are a few rules you will need to understand when you show other scientists what you have found. Use scientific conditions when you experiment. It will make sure that you are studying the right thing! How you show your results will depend on where you are showing them. Some showcases, like Science Fairs, only allow Science Projects that fit certain rules. As long as your presentation follows these rules, you will be able to share your ideas.

Let your inner scientist out during Science Fair Season. It is one of the few opportunities you will have to take complete control of what you learn and how you learn it. Enjoy!

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Science Fair Project Ideas – How do planes stay up anyway?

 This is a question I ask myself every time I buckle up my belt and watch the flight attendants give their safety talk! The scientist in me understands the answer, but the nervous flyer in me still wants to know how 57,000lbs of steel and plastic stays in the sky.

It´s really easy. An airplane wing is like a ship´s sail – only the wing is lying down instead of standing straight up. Aerodynamics is a popular and reliable field when you are looking for Science Fair project ideas.

There are two ways this works:
but the top is curved. As the propellors move the plane forward, air moves over the wing. The air that pushes over the TOP of the wing moves more quickly than the air moving underneath. Air behaves a bit like liquid and the faster it moves, the thinner it gets. This means you get thinner air on the top of the wing and thicker air underneath. This creates a suction effect that pulls the wing upwards – and the rest of the airplane goes with it. The plane gets sucked into the sky! You can try this with a model wing in a tub of water (experimenting with this can give you some great Science Fair project ideas.)

– Just like moving liquid, rapidly moving air (ok, ok, let´s call it something easy. How about WIND!) likes to move in a curve shape rather than straight down. A wing is curved and the air that ´falls´off it doesn´t fall straight down. It falls in an arc. We know that YOU stay on the ground because your body pushes down with force and the ground pushes back with an equal force. When air is pushed off a wing, the air underneath pushes back with an equal force. When you add this to the Suction Effect, you get a plane that flies!

Now that you know all that, here´s a question for you: When a plane flies upside down, why isn´t it sucked towards the ground?

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How can we deal with space junk?

 

We all knew that Earth is being polluted with garbage. Now it looks like we are cluttering up space too.

Did you hear about the two satellites crashed into each other 50 miles above the earth!? It´s the first time this has happened- but it won´t be the last. The junk floating around Earth has built up to a dangerous level. Every time two things smash into eachother, a bunch of fragments break off and make MORE space junk.

NASA has scientists working for them whose only job is to make sure a rocket gets through all the space junk (without smashing into anything). That says alot about how much rubbish there is up there! Unlike Earth, space does not belong to any country. That means space belongs to everyone (and no-one!), and no-one has taken the responsibility of cleaning up space. By the way, how to clean up space junk (or building a rocket) can make great Science Fair projects.

Sooner or later, old satellites end up falling out of orbit and back toward the earth, but this can take 10 or 20 years sometimes (Don’t worry, they burn up before they hit the earth. If you were wondering, it’s because they are falling SO fast that friction with the air makes them get hot enough to catch fire).
Rockets are built so that bits fall off them as they climb through the atmosphere and stratosphere. This is to keep them as light as possible. Unfortunately, these discarded parts just stay in orbit – and we´re running out of room up there.

Rocket Science is heaps of fun, but the increase of space junk raises the old question: ´How do we balance Social Responsibility with Science´?

There are some great Science Fair Projects that deal with rocketry. If, however, you are more philosophical in your approach to things, you might like to set a hypothesis that could help deal with the waste from this fascinating arm of science. Good luck!

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