It is surprisingly easy and enjoyable for a student to create a science fair project that uses electricity. This article offers five ideas for great science fair projects using readily available electronic kits, such as Elenco Electronic Project Lab and Thames and Kosmos.
So why is it important for beginner electronics students to always use an electronic kit from a reputable brand, such as Ramsey, MadLab, Amerikit, or Elenco Electronic Project Lab? It is important because high-voltage electricity can be deadly without proper precautions, students can safely explore electricity with low-voltage electronic kits. Even at low voltages, electricity can be dangerous if not handled properly. Products like Elenco Electronic Project Lab avoid dangerous activities like soldering and use only battery power, which is much safer than AC power.
Another benefit of using electronics kits is they come with detailed instructions, which is very helpful for beginners. Before doing any experiments with electronic kits, students should read all directions included with the kit and follow those directions exactly. Improper use could result in fires, property damage, or even personal injury. Reputable brand name products like Elenco Electronic Project Lab include a lab manual with step by step instructions for every electronics experiment.
So here are a few ideas for projects. The simplest experiment with electricity might be an exploration of conductors versus insulators. A conductor is simply a material through which electricity will flow with little resistance; an insulator prevents electricity from flowing. This can be tested by creating a simple circuit with a battery and a light bulb. If a material completes the circuit, the light bulb will luminesce, indicating that it is a conductor. Most metals are conductors, while most nonmetals are insulators. Therefore, it will not be a surprise to see that silver and copper are conductors, while cotton and glass are insulators. However, you may be surprised by the results of lead (a metal) or graphite (a non-metal).
Depending on the requirements and the amount of time allotted for the experiment, another interesting and particularly applicable experiment would be an exploration of light bulbs. Which light bulb is the best value for the money? The student can explore the differences between brands or between types of bulbs (incandescent, compact fluorescent, or halogen). At the end of the experiment, the student can compare the price of each bulb to the number of hours the bulb burned. This experiment may require a closet or a room away from the bedroom, so that bulbs that remain on during the night will not awaken the family.
Another interesting and low cost experiment would be an exploration of temperature on the output (in volts) of a standard alkaline or dry cell battery. Another, similar variable would be the output of different brands of batteries (Energizer, Duracell, Eveready, etc.). If enough time is allotted for the experiment, the student can also explore the lifespan of a battery, and whether the battery will last longer if it runs continuously or if it is started and stopped on a regular basis. Any combination of these variables can form a fascinating hypothesis.
Part of the adventure of a science experiment is using imagination to explore a particular aspect of the world around us. Using this imagination, a student could explore a different application for an existing electronic device. For example, the student could investigate the possibility of creating a different type of clock that expresses time using lights instead of numbers. Similarly, the student could explore rewiring a low-cost radio to improve sound.
Creating a science experiment using electronic kits is a way for a student to explore a scientific hypothesis while still having fun. The hands-on style of science experiments is a particularly unforgettable experience. In the 21st century, career opportunities in electronics and technology are expected to abound. For many people, their interest in these industries begins in childhood with simple experiments with electricity!