Ideas for Science Presentations

Ideas for Final Presentations


Feel free to choose one of the following topics for your presentations during the next three weeks. Remember that your presentation describes your approach to your teaching in “your” class. Below I am also including some detail of approach on two topics: popcorn and paper towels. Hope this helps.

I am also posting the list of groups with individual group members here.

I will continually update this list with the choices of topic each group picked so no two groups pick the same topic. – AAK.

1. Popcorn: How does popcorn pop? Do different brands of popcorn leave different amounts of unpopped kernels? Soak the kernels for a few hours, and then try to pop them.  Will the extra water help or hinder the kernels in popping? Will any kernels pop if they are heated below the temperature at which water turns to steam?

[A good experiment to suggest is: Score the kernels. If you pierce the hard shell of the kernels, how would that affect their ability to burst from the steam pressure? Does freezing the kernels have an effect? Does the temperature at which you store bags of popcorn affect the amount of corn that pops in each bag? The first thing you’ll need to do is place the popcorn bags in various places like the freezer, fridge, and cupboard. The next day you’ll be able to start the experiment. Put the bags of popcorn into the microwave one at a time for the amount of time suggested on the bag. You should have three separate bowls for the three bags of popcorn. Be sure to mark the bowls so you know which is which. When each bag has popped and been poured into the bowls you can eat the popcorn (it may be helpful to have some friends or family over to help you with this task) and then record how many kernels are left in each bowl.]

2. Kitchen Paper Towels: How do paper towels work? What is the mechanism of “soaking up”? What is the difference between such paper and the paper you print on?

[Try is to see which brand of paper towel will hold the most water. You can start by gathering several different brands of paper towels and a measuring cup. First, put a quarter of a cup of water into the measuring cup and soak it up with one sheet from each brand of paper. If they all soak up the quarter cup of water, switch to half a cup and see which brands will soak that up, and then continue until you have a winner. Be sure to record you results so you can compare brands. Having the recorded data to refer to in the future is always important in any science project.]

3. How do plastic wraps work? What is the mechanism that keeps the food fresh? What are the differences between the various types of wraps?

4. How do adhesive tapes work? What is the mechanism behind the “sticking”? How do differences in surfaces affect the adhesion of tape? How do the different brands differ from each other?

5. How do hair color products work? How long do home hair coloring products hold their color? Does the brand matter? Does the type of hair make a difference in determining the degree of colorfastness? How does previous treatment (perming, previous coloring, straightening) affect initial color intensity and colorfastness?

6. How permanent are permanent markers? What are they made of? What solvents (e.g., water, alcohol, vinegar, detergent solution) will remove the ink? Do different brands/types of markers produce the same results?

7. How do different fertilizers affect the way plants grow? There are lots of different types of fertilizers, containing varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in addition to other ingredients. You can test different fertilizers and see how they affect the height of a plant, the number or size of its leaves, the number of flowers, time until blooming, branching of stems, root development, or other factors.

8. When you plant a garden do you have to worry about the distance between them? How are plants affected by the distance between them? Look into the concept of allelopathy. Sweet potatoes are plants that release chemicals (allelochemicals) that can inhibit the growth of plants near them. How close can another plant grow to a sweet potato? What effects does an allelochemical have on a plant?

9. How do automobile engines work? How do hybrid engines work? How do they differ from gasoline engines? Don’t think about all that stuff under the hood of car but consider the primary component – the engine itself.

10. How do salad dressings work? If you have watched someone make an oil and vinegar salad dressing, you will have undoubtedly noticed that the oil and vinegar separate after a while. Does this happen to some other liquid made up of different substances? How about Coca Cola – would it ever separate into it’s constituent parts?

11. Desalinization: Can you get pure water from salt water? How would you do it? Why don’t we get all of our fresh water from the ocean? If it can be done, why is there so much shortage of drinking water on the globe? Is the procedure expensive?

12. Sweat And Heat: Why does your body secrete sweat when you get hot? What is the basis for this behavior? Is the sweat almost pure water or is it salty? Why would it matter?

13. How does camouflage work? There are certain creatures like the squid and the chameleon that can change their coloration to hide from predators.

14. What is the effect of differing kinds of light upon plant growth? The fact that plants need light to live and thrive is common knowledge. But what about the properties of that light? Could plants fair better or worse with light that was a particular color? What about the intensity of that light?