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Around Town: Internet a great place to find science project ideas

January 16, 2013|By Anita S. Brenner

On Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m., Palm Crest Elementary School will host a science fair in its multi-purpose room. The purpose of a science project is “to find out something that you didn’t know before.”

When the notice went out parents all over La Cañada exclaimed, “Hello, Internet? Do you have any science fair projects for my kid?”

La Cañada is known for parent involvement in elementary school projects. In the 1980s, Palm Crest parents focused on the time-consuming California Mission Project. One family passed their father-built model down the generations through three siblings. Each child received an “A,” to the chagrin of their classmates.

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I know these facts as gospel because my kids griped about the unfairness of other parents doing their kid's homework.

“Why can’t you build my mission?” they would complain.

“Do it yourself,” we would reply.

Now that the tide has shifted to science, here are some resources for the discerning Palm Crest Panther parent.

There are hundreds of websites with thousands of elementary school science projects. You’ll find so much data that it would take weeks to pick a project. As a public service, here are five project ideas.

1. Tesla Coil: Caltech professor Richard Feynman was a genius. If you want your child to be a genius like Feynman, then consider building your own Tesla coil. Google “coilers” online and the rest will be history.

(An anonymous but charming La Cañada physicist told me the following joke last week. “A neutron walked into Taylor’s and asked, “How much is a beer?” The bartender replied, “For you, no charge.”)

2. Rejected Kevlar project: Without our help, our son submitted a prospectus for a seventh-grade science project to test the effectiveness of different brands of Kevlar, a bullet-proof material that is used in bullet-proof vests. For some unknown reason, the science teacher rejected the project because it involved test -firing bullets into five brands of Kevlar, with careful measurements and recording of the effectiveness of each substance in a $7.95 laboratory notebook.

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