Instruct your ninth graders to complete a science fair project focused on one of science's four main disciplines. Students should keep a detailed log of their project progress, which will be a useful resource if they choose to include details of their project in their college application essays. Have students first submit a research proposal to you prior to commencing their project so you can assess the foundation upon which their project is based and think about any potential health and safety aspects.
Effective Ways of Destroying Styrofoam
Encourage your students to think about different ways of dealing with the problem of landfill sites and soil pollution due, in part, to the presence of Styrofoam. Acetone is the current substance used to destroy Styrofoam, but it has harmful side effects on wildlife. To complete the experiment, provide students with an orange, lemon, grape fruit and lime, along with bottles of orange and lemon peel extract. Students should line up six Styrofoam cups for testing before peeling their four fruits and rubbing each peel against each of the four cups. Have students note the results. Progress the experiment to pouring five pipette drops of both the orange and lemon peel extract into the two remaining cups. Students should once again observe their results and take photographs of the experiment procedure before presenting their findings about using the limonene in fruit peel to destroy Styrofoam.
The Use of Garlic in Medicine
An idea for a research-based science fair project at the ninth grade level gets your students to look at the historic and modern-day use of garlic in medicine and the health benefits of garlic consumption. Instruct students to use a wide range of resources, when gathering their information, before referencing their sources during the paper-writing process. Students can also get creative with their research and look at different garlic-driven recipes. Students looking to get out of the classroom could devise and carry out a questionnaire of their local community to see if there are any trends relating to garlic use, such as age, and whether people are aware of the many health benefits of the vegetable. Students should chart their results to display on their science fair stall.
Growing Stalactites and Stalagmites
One grade nine science fair project with intriguing and beautiful results gets students to grow their own stalagmites and stalactites. Assist your students by dissolving as much table salt as possible in 1/2-liter of water on a stove before allowing it to cool and giving it to your students. Each student should then mix in a pipette of his favorite food coloring, which will add to the effect of the crystals. Instruct each student to take a 10-inch length of string and place two identical plastic containers 6 inches apart. Instruct students to pour half of the salt-water solution into each container and submerge each end of the string into each container. Students should adjust the distance between the two containers so there is a little slack in the string so its middle is slightly below the rest of the string. Students should observe stalagmites and stalactites form over the course of about five to eight hours.
Geocentric Solar System
Ninth grade students interested in physics can engage in a research project looking at the historic idea that our solar system was centered around the earth (geocentric). Have students complete research looking at how humanity's idea of the solar system evolved over hundreds and thousands of years. Students can also pin vivid and dramatic images of the solar system on their science fair board to add some color and beauty to their stall. Those looking for an alternative might consider assessing how the solar system is portrayed in popular culture forms, such as books, television and film.
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