[time-nuts] Anybody have suggestions for time related science fair projects?

jimlux jimlux at earthlink.net
Fri May 11 07:23:50 EDT 2018

On 5/10/18 9:55 PM, Hal Murray wrote:
> A few months ago, I was a judge for the county level middle school science
> fair.  (I'm not very good at what they wanted, but that's a different
> problem.)
> What sort of interesting time related experiments can a middle school geek do?
> Borrowing serious gear may not be off scale as long as a youngster can run it.

The whole area of celestial nav is time related and uses very simple 
equipment -

Telling time by measuring the sun in some way.  Occultation of stars by 
the moon.  Positions of jupiter's big 4 moons.

Pendulum experiments.  If the student has a way to change their 
altitude, can they measure changes in g.  Driving a pendulum.

Coupled resonators  (spring/mass, pendulum, vibrating rods)

Measuring the speed of light (Fizeau or Michelson method? Other ways)

Water clock, sand hour glass, etc.  Measuring performance variation over 
environmental variations.

the trick with good science projects is finding something that's not 
just a "lab demo" - where there's some engineering component to figuring 
out how to execute the demo with unusual or improvised equipment, or 
where you're measuring something that's not been done before.

For instance, measuring time with Jupiter's moons has been done for 
centuries, but has it been done by taking cell phone pictures through a 
telescope and then measuring the distances on the resulting images?
Can you make a sundial with a webcam pointed at a spherical reflector 
(to make an "all-sky camera")

Other experiments play off a old joke - there's one about "how to you 
tell how tall a building is using a barometer"  - take it to the top of 
the building drop it, and time how long it takes til it hits the ground. 
  Build a pendulum the height of the building, using the barometer as a 
pendulum bob.

Characterizing a clock is a good one -
a) there's well developed analytical tools for doing the data reduction 
(AVAR, etc.)
b) the experiment lends itself to collecting multiple data sets from 
multiple instances of the clock in question
c) clock performance is affected by environment, so there's lots of 
potential experiments.

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