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RESEARCH PROPOSALS Answered

Finally, it has come. Time for us to make our own investigatory projects. And it has been bothering me even in my dreams..T_T. Guys, I really nid some help wid this 2pic. I really nid a feasible project and of course, an instructable to do it. I wud lyk to hear ol ur opinions, be it about electronics, robotics, biodiesel, ethanol production, anything. i juz nid a project. and our science congress is less dan 2 months from now. so that is my time frame for now. any project that can be accomplished within or shorter than 2 months will really be of great help. Thank you, guys! I am already sweating now. Our adviser is asking us to pass a methodology! waaah!!

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> runs post through BabelFish <

> BabelFish hides behind the little plastic diver in his tank <

If I read that correctly, you are supposed to be coming up with an investigation-based project for a science contest. You need our help because you can't think of an idea, and the deadline is quite short.

Two questions:

How old are you?
What interests you?

Oh, and please tell me you normally spell far, far better than that?

Well, I am just 14 and our adviser surely likes to squeeze things out of our heads. So that's what I am doing. I'm trying to get all the information I can lay my hands on. Right now, I am trying to produce ethanol out of this plant they call maguey (agave americana l.variegata). But just last night, I think, I stumbled upon an article saying that maguey is somewhat being used as a source of ethanol. That's why I'm getting anxious now. I tried reading some of the robotics write-ups in here, but since I do not have any background about it, I'm having a hard time understanding some terms.(our adviser and panelists really likes anything in relation to robotics and electronics, and she's really depending on us to bring the name of our school!)

If you're stuck for a quick experiment, try researching the effects of sea-water on freshwater biomes - things like the aftermath of the New Orleans storm-surge. Get some pond-weed, duckweed is the easiest, and grow it in normal pondwater, but with different amounts of salt added to simulate the effects of the sea over-topping the levys. Take macro photos of the weed over a period of several days or even weeks to record the health of the plants (dead duckweed turns white).

i heard that this duckweed is being used as fish food here in the Philippines and that they are trying to increase the production of such. Perhaps it will be of great help if I prove that in a relatively salty water, duckweed will be able to grow, right? But then, my first problem is where to find this duckweed and where to culture it. Perhaps i'm gonna go try to ask our adviser. thanks again, kiteman!

The duckweed I'm talking about is the small plant that grows free-floating on ponds and in ditches.

Wikipedia link

Oh, you're right about the food aspect - apparently it's called khai-nam.

So maybe you'll be able to use your experiment to investigate the use of duckweed as a food crop in areas too flooded (by rain etc) to grow normal crops.

(I didn't know you were in the Philippines!)

yeah, i'm from the philippines. well, do you suggest that I now leave the ethanol production that I was doing? Right now, I am in the process of fermentation and it pains me to discover about that article stating that 10% ethanol from maguey produces something. But anyway, thank you very much for that idea. Especially, now, we are being drowned by too much flood! haha.

It's entirely up to you (how much work would you waste?).

If you were starting from scratch, with less than two months to presentation, I would say go with the duckweed + saltwater, because you'll have time to repeat your tests to check your observations, as well as being able to prepare a decent presentation.

I'll give ya one I'd like to work on as well..... Instead of running out to check the electric meter to see how much electricity I'ved used, wouldn't it be nice to simply plug a device into my wall plug and it give me how much electricity I've used and a dollar amount as to how much I've used. I'd really like to do this project but need some ideas to work with. Anyone who'd like to help, please jump on board and try to make this happen. Thanks

They are already on the market - plug the device into the socket, then the appliance into the device (I can't for the life of me remember the name), and it tells you how much electricity you've used, and the cost.

You could use power line routers hooked up to your meter to tell you your entire house's consumption

It would be rather dangerous to hook up to the house mains to figure out power consumption. Current transformers would be called for, but it's better to put those in during the initial install. Although if I really wanted to I could pull the panel cover and... Nah, poster's only 15, he should wait until later in life, when you really have no excuse but stupidity.

. A split CT can be installed reasonably safely by most DIYers with a little electrical experience under their belt. Not sure if a 15 yo will have that experience, but it should be fairly safe with some experienced supervision.
. It would be a good time to pull the meter, just to be safer, but, as long as you don't touch any exposed live parts, not absolutely necessary. The breaker/fuse box can be a good place to install the CTs; usually not a lot of room to work in a meter base. Or the drip loop at the service entrance, but the power company may not like you installing anything on their side of the meter.
. Trip the main breaker/disconnect when installing, as the CTs will be hot any time there is current flowing through them. Make sure the CTs are wired up before applying power.
. Never work on mains-level voltage alone. Always have a buddy that knows CPR standing by. When in doubt, leave it alone.

And I'm sure if you talked to the power company, they would come out and remove your meter for you, and if you asked for a digital demand meter they would provide you one and these are easier to read (( 802.11 video camera )) allowing you to calibrate your meter, I know my power provider really supports education and school science programs, And Yes every thing going on your side of the meter would have to meet all the electrical codes..... You might be lucky like me and have a fixed demand meter box which has lots of room for all kinds of additions...

Naw, I mean use one of these to transmit the data back to any outlet. For example, it would say this outlet is using _watts, and the whole house uses _watts

Yeah, That's what I was onto. Then add the calculation display to it it....This outlet is costing $$$$ per hour/minute, and currently the whole house has Cost $$$$ this reading period. Any other ideas, this has been helpful and fun to try to figure out. Thanks

I think he wants to know how much power the entire house has used.

Our adviser is asking us to pass a methodology! waaah!!
Ouch, that sounds painful. Maybe adding lots of fiber to your diet will help.

Relax. This is easier than you think.

Step one, what is currently "hot" in the news and science? Find something that shows up on the nightly news, is researched by scientists, that you can do.

Step two, design experiment(s) so you can't screw it up.

One, "green" stuff is hot. Big interest in renewable energy. Let's pick solar.

Okay, now you could try growing something, but that takes time, so any biological sunlight-using stuff is out. How about solar cells? Those are easy to work with. Many people are making their own solar panels. You need light to get to the solar cell. Panels normally have a protective clear layer between sunlight and cells. So let's try that. Different substances transmit different amounts and types of light. Polycarbonate blocks UV rays for example. So try different substances, like glass, plexiglas, polycarbonate, and something-else-clear. Obtain pieces of the same thickness.

Now we're getting to the second part. Get a bunch of identical solar cells, they should all look the same, same type, same size. Let's say 10, although 20 is better. Under a fluorescent light at a fixed distance from a cell, with no other lighting, measure the voltage and current from each cell, keep the distance the same. If you see noticeable variation, group together those that read about the same, repeat until you have 5 that are very closely matched, as good as you can check with your equipment. Having all your testing equipment be the same is very important for a good experiment, and the cells will be your equipment. Number them on the back so you can keep track of them.

Now you need sunlight, your 4 cover pieces, and your 5 cells. Cover 4 cells, leave 5th uncovered (your control sample). Take measurements. Then swap covers, repeat. When done each cell will have a reading for each situation, each cover plus no cover, 5 readings total per cell. Make spreadsheet. See what difference the cover material makes.

Then comes variation. Obtain color filters, just the plastic film stuff for arts and crafts should do. Redo the cover readings with the filters, draw conclusions about what colors the cells are responding to and if the cover material makes a difference.

Then write it all up. Either know or learn some basic Statistics, that'll help.

Oh, if you can figure out why you're using so many cells and taking so many readings it looks like you're just repeating yourself, then you'll figure out the methodology part.

wow, thanks a lot forgesmith! that sure was helpful. u gave a very detailed one! thanks for the idea.