Science fair projects help third graders learn about the natural processes at work in the universe. In constructing a project, kids also will learn how to process data and translate it into a demonstrable object or display. Our solar system provides fertile ground for science fair projects that will keep kids interested. A successful project may even help them earn scholarship money for their future education.
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Future of Space Travel Within the Solar System
About 240,000 miles lie between the planet Earth and our moon. It took Apollo astronauts three days to cover this distance. The distance to Mars, the next closest planet, measures about 140 million miles on average. Travelling at the speed of Apollo space craft, it would take over 1.6 years to get to Mars. A great science fair project could look at the different methods of propulsion used to boost the speed of space craft using the sling shot effect, a method previously used for several deep space probes. Students could investigate possible dangers, radiation levels and temperatures in involved in space travel.
The Kuiper Belt
In the vast space just beyond Neptune's orbit lies a vast band of innumerable orbiting trans-Neptunian objects, some with a radius as large as 60 miles. Discovered in 1992, this region of floating debris known as the Kuiper Belt serves as one of the most recent and exciting discoveries in modern science. Some scientists believe this belt contains remnants of the time when the planets first formed in our solar system. A demonstration outlining theories about the Kuiper Belt would make a fascinating project for any science fair.
Life on Other Planets
Today's third graders are exposed to the possibility of life on other planets through stories, books, movies and television programs. A science fair project could take a close look at the physical and environmental features of other planets in our solar system to determine if some type of life could exist on one or more of those planets. Compare the environments on other planets in our solar system with the life-supporting environment here on planet Earth. One popular aspect of space research today focuses on the possibility of life-supporting water on Mars.
Solar System Model
This project outlines the relative sizes of the planets to Earth. Check online for reference pictures of each planet and paint accordingly. Find the correct orbital information and put the model together according to that scale. With any model of the solar system, make sure to mention the scale of the model and the distances between each of the planets. An actual scale model of the solar system would take up more space than allowed for a science fair project, so improvisation and creativity within the established facts will be needed. Planets may be connected to a sun using tiny wooden or metal rods, or suspended from a framework using fishing line.
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