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I desperatley need help for science fair

  1. Jul 9, 2014 #1
    Over the summer, to go into Chem I Honors, students at my school have to complete a science fair project. I had decided to do something with bridge structure, and nobody- not my adviser or my teacher- told me what a terrible idea i had. I originally had planned to make mini models with actual construction materials, but after realizing that t was impossible to control all variables in this situation, I had to reconsider. However, it is too late to completely change my idea because my procedure was somehow given the go-ahead (and a 95/100). I then considered using Popsicle sticks to build the bridges, and to have a set number of Popsicle sticks so that the structure was the only thing that changed. Then upon a little research I realized that this project was on a 6th grade level, and would not be acceptable considering how big a grade this is.
    I was thinking about something with aerodynamics and bridge structure, but I am having a lot of trouble finding specific ideas on the subject. I desperately need hemp with this project.
    What are some questions I can start with in this field? What type of experiment would be acceptable for this topic? How can I involve bridge structure in a high school honors class level science fair project?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Your choice of words help or hemp was interesting.

    When I first read it I thought drugs? then no the OP must have meant rope then no I think the OP meant help.

    So thinking help, have you looked into using origami structures for your bridge? or even folding paper in a certain way?


    Next there's the famous Tacoma Bridge video where the wind at the right speed introduced oscillations that built up and destroyed the bridge prompting the use of simulations of bridges before building them.

    and more info on it:


    Alternatively you might consider building a bridge and have a fan blow across it to recreate the Tacoma failure and then show how you might mitigate it.

    And a reference for building model bridges:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Jul 9, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    In addition to what jedishrfu (wow what a name) said, you can build multiple bridges that are the same in in most ways, but differ slightly.

    example: 1 bridge has thick trusses, another has thin trusses.
    1 uses super glue, 1 uses wood glue.

    try and predict which bridges will work the best and why (try to use a scientific thought process)

    then put some weights on the bridge (film it in case they fail) and observe which bridge works the best.

    The key to this project succeeding would be a sound hypotheses based on some science, even if the hypothesis is not correct.
  5. Jul 9, 2014 #4
    The Chem Honors class doesn't require a science fair project that is...chemistry based?

    You could use a similar idea and glue two items together and measure the tensile strength of the glue based on the material properties.

    You could go further and measure the tensile strength of cured glue when it is exposed to various chemical agents (water, acetone, spray paint, etc) and show what reactions are occurring which change the results of your experiment.

    Also, I agree that you could make the bridge project work for a highschool level. What differentiates this from the "weeee! We are building a bridge!" project to one that may get a decent grade is the level of scientific effort you put in. As the others have said, make a controlled experiment, form a hypothesis, conduct the experiment, and analyze the data.
  6. Jul 9, 2014 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Another thought for modeling is to use laser pointers attached to the bridge and shining on some piece of paper
    to show change of position or deformation or rotation by how the pointer changes when you put stress on the structure.
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