Whether you are studying the physics that underlie bridges or the properties that allow buildings to withstand an earthquake, you can undertake many scientific projects involving Popsicle sticks. Because they are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to acquire in large numbers, they make a great building material for small-scale projects, and they can be used in a variety of applications.
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One of the most common science project involving Popsicle sticks is building a bridge. Sometimes the bridge has to withstand as much weight as possible, sometimes it has to span as great a distance as possible while still being able to hold a certain amount of weight, and sometimes it must withstand a simulated earthquake. If your bridge has to meet certain requirements, research different bridge designs to determine which of the six types of bridges best suits your predicament. If you are simply learning about bridge architecture, construct two different types of bridges to compare their strengths and weaknesses.
In places prone to earthquakes, buildings must be constructed with certain architectural features to prevent them from experiencing structural damage. To learn about the forces of an earthquake and how buildings can withstand them, try to construct a building out of Popsicle sticks that will not fall when subjected to simulated earthquake forces, which may include shaking back and forth, rolling up and down, or shifting from side to side. Research how real earthquake-resistant buildings are constructed and try to replicate the principles of these buildings in your Popsicle model.
On the Water
If you have ever wondered how a gigantic cruise ship can stay afloat, try building a boat out of Popsicle sticks that you can fill with a significant amount of weight and still keep floating. Research how the shape of boats contributes to their buoyancy and try to design a vessel that best utilises these principles. Alternatively, see how well your Popsicle boat floats in different types of liquids, such as salt water, soda pop, milk and oil. You could also use a Popsicle boat to simulate an oil spill, and try to devise a safe, effective method of cleanup.
Catapults have been used since the time of the ancient Greeks, and they are an extremely effective mechanism of war. You can make a smaller version of a catapult with Popsicle sticks, attempting either to construct one that will launch an object very far or very accurately. You could also create numerous catapults with different designs to determine which factors affect the distance, accuracy and path of the launch. Research the physics behind a catapult and form a hypothesis about the optimal catapult design, then test your idea by building your own.
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