Need help thinking of 8th grade science experiment!

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by TwinMa, May 1, 2009.

  1. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    You guys were so good with helping with my daughter's killer math problem, that I'm going to tap you for her killer science experiment.

    She has to come up with an experiment using either Corn, Styrofoam or a Sham-Wow.

    For those of you who don't know what Sham-Wow is (like me), it is a chamois type cloth that is supposed to absorb 20 times it's weight in liquid. It's pitched on a cheesy informercial easily viewed on You Tube.

    She came up with 2 ideas so far and they were both "taken" by other students. There are 120 students, and they all have to come up with different ideas. It's supposed to be for a "patent". The 2 taken ideas were:

    1) Determine how much weight it takes to sink various size pieces of styrofoam.
    2) Determine how long it takes for ice to melt in a styrofoam cup undering varying conditions.

    She needs to be able to have quantifiable data--that is, be able to record information and make graphs and such.

    At this point, I'm stumped. I think it's going to have to be kind of an off-the-wall idea for it to be original. But it has to be do-able, too. No "How long does it take corn to grow on the moon?"

    Any ideas????? Help!!!
  2. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Does a Sham-Wow absorb 20 times its weight? That would be easy to determine. And the charts & graphs could look really cool. Especially if she tries it with several different liquids - some thicker & some thinner. Would it absorb less of a thicker liquid?

    I'd try it with water, milk, etc...

    And if it doesn't work as claimed, she could even contact the company asking for an explanation. Teachers just LOVE tons of documentation!

    [This Message was Edited on 05/01/2009]
  3. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    I like that idea. My daughter is going to email her science teacher with ideas this weekend. I'll have her include yours. Hopefully it hasn't already been submitted. Thanks!

    Anybody else?
  4. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    With 120 kids needing 120 different ideas, your daughter might get stuck settling for an experiment she's not happy about. That's a sure way to kill enthusiasm for science.

    I'd suggest contacting a college or university physics or chemistry department, & asking a STUDENT, not a prof, for suggestions (explaining it's for an 8th grader). Some students might need a community-service type of credit for another class.

    If you do, be sure to keep all the records of this collaboration, (especially if it's a school she might like). Her college applications are only 3 years away, & ya never know what might impress an admissions officer!
  5. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    I'd google a question- then make a variation of it if possible.
  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    You might want to check out the musings of Dave Barry. He's the most well-
    known writer on school science projects.

    Looks like you already have some good ideas. Maybe your daughter could do a
    sort of 3-in-1 project. How much corn oil can a Shamwow absorb if the oil's in a
    styrofoam cup.

    Or, continuing the 3-in-1 theme, corn is an ingreediment (sic) in everything from
    drinks to hot dogs to popsicles. How about serving the teacher a hot dog, a drink
    in a styrofoam cup, and a whamshaw to use as a napkin?

    If a graph is essential, this could be served to several teachers with their reactions
    shown on a graph. (Hint: the bigger the graph, the higher the grade.)

    Will the Shamwow absorb mercury? It's a liquid. On the other hand I read it's
    poisonous. Maybe better not fool around with it. (Although we used to when
    I was in school.)

    Can one get a patent for describing how to measure something? Doesn't one
    need to build a machine that will do the measuring?

    Well, there you have. All outta ideas. No need to thank me; always happy to help.

    Oh yeah, that experiment on the moon. I think we already know how well corn will
    grow on the moon.


  7. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Pippi - I agree 100% with the idea of this method killing her enthusiasm for science. She was very excited about her original ideas and then they got squashed with "those are taken". I like the idea of contacting a college, but I'm afraid we don't have enough time.

    Janalynn - I already did exhaustive google searches on corn experiments, shamwow experiments, styrofoam experiements, etc. You'd be surprised how little is out there.

    Rock - As usual, you make me laugh. Thanks for your combo ideas. Love Dave Barry, too. My latest favorite comic writer is David Sedaris. Do you read him? He's a hoot. But that's another post.

    The latest idea we are working with is Styrofoam earmuffs. How much sound can they muffle? It's a reach, but probably no one has taken it yet. Still waiting to hear from the teacher.

    Thanks to all for your responses!!
  8. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    I like the sound-blocking idea.
    But how would she measure / document the level of sound blocking?
    I know hearing-protectors for jobsites are rated by how many decibels they effectively block.

  9. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Yes, David Sedaris is pretty funny. Somebody poster here recently about his
    experience as a Christmas elf. Mighta been on the book club thread.

    Why don't you become a book club member? No application form, no dues,
    no oath of allegiance, no initiation. You don't even have to read the book of
    the month.

    Did you know his sister Amy also writes funny stuff? Haven't read any yet, but I
    have one of her books on hold. Think it's called Wigfield.

    Your daughter finished her project yet?

  10. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Yeah Pippi, measuring the decibels would be difficult. I was thinking she could made three sets of earmuffs using 3 different thicknesses of styrofoam (by taping the styro inside cheapy earmuffs). Then she could play a tape or CD with different sounds. Start with soft sounds, then get increasingly louder. When the person could hear the sound, they would raise their hand. Just like the hearing test booths.

    It's not perfect because you can't get the db levels up as high as the real sound when recording. For example, recording a jack hammer would not be as loud as a real jack hammer--only as loud as you could crank the volume.

    The other option is to record the same sound over and over (like a dog barking), then just increase the volume until the person could hear it. She could do this experiement in a quiet room and repeat with several people. Of course there are many other variable (like my deaf husband would probably stink at this--although he has selective deafness, lol), but at least it's something. Somebody better NOT have thought of this one already!

    Rock, I have read (listened to the audiobook) of Amy Sedaris book "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence". It's very funny. She reads the book herself. Lots of times I wasn't sure if she was being serious or not. I figured most of it was tongue in cheek, but she often comes across as dead serious. And I'm the queen of dead pan, so it made it even that much more funny to me cause I couldn't tell! It's good. David Sedaris also reads his own audiobooks. I just love him. I listen to more books than I actually read.

    I've read your book club thread many times. You guys are quite entertaining. I get lots of ideas of books to read from your thread (thank you). But by the time I get the audiobook from the library and finally listen to it, you guys are 5 books down the road. I'm a SLOW reader of actual books.

    I started reading "Twilight" 6 months ago and I'm 3/4 of the way through. Yes, you can make fun of me for reading that. One of my daughters read the series and I wanted to see what the hoopla was about. So far I'm not seeing any hoopla. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to read it. Fortunately, my daughter doesn't think it's that big a deal either.

    She's into horror, so I got her some Stephen King. Dean Koontz is next on the list. It's tough finding something that is appropriate for a 14 year old horror-wise. Some of the teen novels are SOOO boring, bu some of the adult stuff is too traumatizing. Suggestions welcome.

    My main commitment on here has been to the LOST thread. We're down to 3 or 4 of us. But that season is sadly coming to a close, so maybe I'll try your book club after we find out what the four toed statue is about.
  11. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    I don't hafta wait to get audio books from the library. I can download them from the library's website. Does your public library have that option? It's really great to have instant access to them this way!
  12. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    My daughter emailed several ideas to her science teacher and he finally emailed back. He thought the styrofoam earmuffs was a very good experiment, but the school doesn't have the equipment to measure this. Several of her other ideas were taken. The one he accepted was:

    Determine the change in temperature of liquid (hot or cold) dependending on thickness of styrofoam by using 1, 2, 3 or 4 stacked styrofoam cups.

    Woo hoo. This is do-able. I have a digital meat thermometer that she can stick in the water. She can measure the temperature initially, then see how it changes over time. She can do 1 set of cups with cold water and another set with hot water. This will make a good graph, too.

    Now if she can just finish her Anne Frank project, her essay on "What divides and unites a country and the world", study for Math, Spanish..... Oy.

    Pippi, my library does have downloadable audio books, but I haven't gone that route yet. Partly because I have an iPod. Previously, they said it wouldn't work with iPods for proprietary reasons. You had to have any number of other mp3 players. I think they may have changed that, tho.

    Do you only get them for 3 weeks and then they expire? Some books are so long that I need them for longer than 3 weeks. I'm listening to Little Women right now. Long. I only listen on my commute to and from work--about 30 minutes each way. Sometimes it takes me several weeks to get through a book. What kind of mp3 player to you have Pippi?
  13. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    RE: your daughter's essay, she may want to quote the Sherman brothers who
    wrote Small World.

    Thought the mountains divide
    And the Oceans are wide,
    It's a small, small world.

    Same guys what wrote the score for Mary Poppins.

    I'm so old, that when we studied geography in grade school, the books were
    illustrated with pictures of people in their native costumes. Now the native
    costume is pretty much the same all over the world. Jeans and a T-shirt.

    You can tell her, if she feels swamped with school work, that working for a
    living is easier than going to school.


  14. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    The audio book check out is 21 days, but I only hafta click "renew" to get another 21 days. I don't think there's a limit on the number of renewals.

    And Rock is absolutely correct! School is harder than work!

    But tell your daughter that high school is WAY more interesting than middle school! Choosing her classes & electives will give her more control of her education, especially if y'all have magnet schools, where she can take courses she's actually interested in.

    Let us know how the experiment turns out. I really wanna know!
    Is she gonna do it with just water, or try different types of liquids?