ShinnyGroove New Reader
9/8/18 8:09 a.m.

My 5th grader loves cars, and loves working on the Miata with me. He has to do a science project for his 5th grade class, and I’m trying to think of good car-related projects. He needs a hypothesis, test methods, conclusion, etc. He’ll need to make a tabletop exhibit for it. When my daughter did it a few years ago, the kids with the flashiest exhibits got more points. Help me brainstorm!

Patrick MegaDork
9/8/18 8:21 a.m.

When i was in school the flashiest exhibits won even when their hypothesis wasn’t actually a hypothesis.  Someone literally won with their “hypothesis” line on their big shiny tri fold display “Which bullet is best?”  That’s not a damn hypothesis it’s a question!


rant over.  Point is make sure your kid has an actual hypothesis to test.  

Hypothesis:  water is a bad engine bearing lubricant 

experiment: drain miata oil and replace with water, start engine and observe happenings

display: engine block with a piston hanging out the side

conclusion: water is indeed a bad engine bearing lubricant, hypothesis confirmed 

remedy: flyin miata v8 swap

egnorant SuperDork
9/8/18 8:34 a.m.

When I was 11, I worked ar a service station and was learning the things automotive. One thing that amazed me was making the spark plugs work. The old fellow I worked for was amazingly knowledgeable and patient as he explained how the coil worked, all the timing to make it work and how each item made the electricity act to produce a proper spark. This is kinda flashy if you make it work.



RevRico UberDork
9/8/18 9:09 a.m.

Get some old tires. The more types the better. 

Cut out 10-12" long strips of tread, set a brick on them, and use that to show off traction ability on a cookie sheet or table top. Or maybe several different kinds of surfaces. 


Yes, I'm stealing this idea from a tire shop I spent a lot of time in. They used it to show off why you should get siped snow tires. 

LanEvo HalfDork
9/8/18 12:29 p.m.

I’m thinking about something to do with distracted driving. 

Give people a simple task to perform: maybe watching a video and counting things; or playing a video game. Ideally, something that requires quick reaction times. 

Have people do that task twice: once with no distractions; once while sending a text message or tweeting. Score them each time.

Collect data and publish in real time at the science fair. In science nerd terms, you’re conducting a “case-control study” where each participant is acting as his/her own control. 

loosecannon Dork
9/8/18 12:57 p.m.

How brakes work-can demonstrate hydraulics pretty easily and a lot of people don't know how they work

914Driver MegaDork
9/8/18 1:13 p.m.

Port & Polish vs factory casting?  CFM air flow numbers?

Mndsm MegaDork
9/8/18 1:49 p.m.

How does a turbo work? Big turbo low psi vs small turbo high psi for efficiency. 

Vigo UltimaDork
9/8/18 2:03 p.m.

I'd be tempted to go after something electrical. The coil thing is certainly possible although it may be on the 'dangerous' side depending on school officials. How about something like the alternator? You can probably weld or bolt a simple handle to an alternator shaft/pulley, energize the field windings with a battery, and have students compete to spin the darn thing with some type of visual load hooked up like a light display, or a fan at the bottom of a tube blowing a golf ball up the tube or something like that. Something with a variable result based on how fast you crank it. It would be harder to build the  visually exciting output aspect than it would be to bolt an alternator to a board and hook the 4 wires up to it. Electromagnetic induction + spinning a handle really fast? I think kids would love it. 

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