Most science fair projects will require some type of measurement as a tool to produce data. But there are some projects that make measurement the central idea. At first glance, measurement might seem a little pedestrian as a science fair project, but if you are imaginative, you can come up with some really fascinating concepts involving measurement. Plus you’ll learn a lot about math, estimation, geometry and even society as you complete some of these.
Measuring the Diameter of the Sun
If you know how far the earth is from the sun (150 million km) and you can measure the diameter of an image of the sun, you can derive a measurement for the diameter of the sun using just a pinhole and a ruler. Use the pinhole to project an image of the sun onto a flat surface. Measure both the diameter of the image and the distance from the pinhole to the image. Now the diameter of the image, divided by the distance from the pinhole, and multiplied by the distance between the sun and the earth equals the diameter of the sun.
Estimating a Person's Height from the Length of their Stride
In this project, you will determine whether you can tell how tall people are by measuring how they walk. You are attempting to find out if there is a relationship between the two measurements. First make a prediction about what your experiment will show. Use several different volunteers. Measure out a set distance for them to walk, and count how many strides they take. Then measure their height. Graph your data and see if you can discover a mathematical relationship.
Metric versus Imperial
The metric system is the international standard used throughout the global scientific community, but most U.S. school children are much more familiar with imperial measurements. Design a science project or poster display that demonstrates how to work conversions between the two systems, gives the history of metric measurements and tells why they are used in scientific research. Do a survey of everyday items to see how many references to metric measurements you can find. There’s a great board game you can use to demonstrate conversions in the resources section below.