Science Fair Projects on Perpetual Motion

By Anne Kemp; Updated April 25, 2017
This simple office toy is one example of an attempt at perpetual motion.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, perpetual motion is "the action of a device that, once set in motion, would continue in motion forever, with no additional energy required to maintain it." Many inventors over the years have tried their hand at attempting this concept, without success. Consider designing a science fair project that demonstrates perpetual motion and how it either succeeds or fails and present your findings in a presentation or demonstration.

Perpetual Motion Machine

Take a box, 3 inches on each side and open at one end for observation, and securely glue magnets on all four sides. Cover the open end with plastic wrap and sealed with tape. Take a small magnet and cover it with clay to block its magnetism then drop it into the box. If the box has been made correctly, the magnet will bounce around inside and will be repelled by the other magnets. Record all your results for presentation.

Pendulum Study

Pendulums demonstrate perpetual motion. For this project, the focus is whether the motion of the pendulum is based on its length or mass and if it is affected by its environment. Secure a length of fishing line to a stable frame. Test the pendulum by adding a small fishing weight to the line. Change the length of the line and adjust the weight by adding or taking away fishing weights as needed. Test the pendulum with three different weights and lengths. Note your findings and graph the results for presentation.

The Drinking Bird

Purchase a drinking bird and set up a perpetual motion demonstration for the science fair with this device. Place an 8 ounce glass of water in front of the bird. Considering buying two more birds and placing water glasses in front of them that are all various temperatures, including hot, room temperature and cold. Demonstrate whether each bird's motion is due to perpetual motion or the environment it's in and if the temperature of the water is a factor.

Kinetic Energy vs. Perpetual Motion

Use simple desk toys to show the difference between kinetic energy and perpetual motion. When an object has motion, such as the kinetic balls that can create an idea of perpetual motion, it is using kinetic energy or the energy of motion. While closely related, research both topics and show findings why kinetic energy is tangible as compared to the failures over the years of perpetual motion machines. Find pictures in the library or online that are examples of both and present them with research as to why they will or will not work.

About the Author

Anne Kemp has been writing since 1998. She is a columnist for the "Frederick News-Post." a newspaper that is circulated in the D.C.-metro area, and she also writes a blog for FNP Online. Kemp attended the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of California, Los Angeles.