When life gives you lemons, make a science project. Lemons and limes provide low-cost materials for your science experiments. Whether seeking the blue ribbon at a science fair or a passing grade in your science class, lemons and limes just might be your answer.
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Use the acid from a lemon or lime to light a small light bulb. Construct two fruit batteries with the lemon and lime. Compare the brightness of the light bulb from each fruit battery. To construct a battery, cut the fruit in half and insert a copper penny and a paper clip into two slits cut into the fruit half. Connect a copper wire from the penny to the light bulb and a second copper wire from the paper clip in the fruit to the other node of the light bulb. Test the voltage of each battery by touching the probes from a volt meter to the two copper wires leading away from the fruit. Did the lemon or lime produce more electricity? Or were they the same? Explain your findings.
Boats and Submarines
Find out if lemons and limes are boats that float on water or submarines that sink. Drop a lemon and lime of the same size into a clear bowl of water and observe which one floats and which sinks. Remove the fruits, dry them and weigh them on a scale. Then find the volume of the fruit by dropping it into a beaker with 100ml of water and subtracting that from the level the water rose to. For instance, if you put the fruit into the water and the level rose to 210ml, the volume would be 210ml -- 100 mL = 110ml. The difference is the volume of the fruit. Divide the weight in grams by the volume to determine the density of the fruit. If the density is greater than 1g/ml then the fruit sinks because it is denser than water, but if it is less, the fruit floats.
Use pH test strips to find out the acidity level of lemons compared to limes. Test the juice of several lemons and limes and take the average of your samples. Make a prediction before you test for your hypothesis. Which fruit do you think will have the greatest acidity? When using the test strips, remember that the lower the number, the higher the acidity. Look for pH test strips from a science supply store or ask your science teacher.
Taste and Color
Squeeze enough lemons and limes to create 1 cup of juice of each. Pour the lemon juice into one pitcher and the lime juice into a second. Stir in 1 cup of sugar and 5 cups of water to each pitcher to make 6 cups of lemonade in one pitcher and limeade in the second. Label the pitcher of lemonade A and limeade B. Add green food colouring to the lemonade until it turns dark green. Mix red food colouring into the limeade to dye it red. Have people try a 1/2 cup sample of each drink and make a guess of what flavour they thought they were drinking. You can also provide a guided questionnaire with suggestions: lemonade, limeade, cherry drink, green apple drink, grape drink or other. Tally the results to determine if the colour of the drinks changed how people perceived the taste of the contents.
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