12 year olds science project

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by chambersc, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. chambersc

    chambersc Been here awhile

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    So the step son (to be) comes to me tonight about help with his science fair project. No idea what he wants to do, but he loves motorcycles since he and I started riding together. His father (great guy, no bashing here) is not mechanical and isnt much help. Mom, a cardiac specialist, isn't much into it either. Luckily for him she's marrying a guy who routinely has grease under his fingernails and a motorcycle project in various states of build at all times who started riding at 8 years old.

    So the plan: how a motorcycle carburetor works. Complete with a cutaway carburetor. Not sure what old carbs I've got lying aorund, but I know enough of my motorcycle buddies will have some they dont need. Be nice to use a CV carb, but even an old slide one will do the trick. Going to cut it in half on the bandsaw as cleanly as possible, smooth out the edges with the file, paint the bowl side red for fuel, blue for air, maybe green for vacuum, etc and explain all of the circuits and what they do. I have a feeling he is sound asleep right now. But me, no, I've been awake the last two hours thinking about it. In fact, when this is all finished its going to get hung on my shop wall. I LOVE cutaway mechanical shit, and it will be even cooler when the 12 year old does it for his science fair.

    No real question, just a statement and me blowing off some steam. I'm ready to start dissecting!
    #1
  2. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

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    Yeah, I like cutaway mechanical stuff, too, but when dads take over the kid's projects, the goal is to win.
    Exploding something is great, splashes and smells are impressive, too. How about a perpetual motion hoax? Unless you have a real one, then my hat's off to you, sir.
    Hey, bikes, kid, dad, what fun.
    This is like the pinewood derby where you know those kids didn't make those things. Even the inclusion of a strobe light will increase your chances of winning.
    #2
  3. chambersc

    chambersc Been here awhile

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    You have my word his hands will be dirty on this one. I was always the kid who made my own pinewood car and got whooped, but I did it. Might have to limit his bandsaw usage but he will certainly be handling all of the filing, painting, mounting, etc of it and the explanation to the judges is all his, so he had better know what he is talking about.
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  4. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

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    C'mon, the W is what it's all about. How about a wheelie video with a teeter-totter demo?
    Motion wins out, even the judges have ADHD.
    The carb cutaway would be epic on the garage wall, however.
    We're going to require some pics of that.
    Play to your crowd, show traction with forward/reverse knobby patterns, show how the mud splashes differently. Everybody wants to get some on them. Pics mandatory.
    #4
  5. Brokein2

    Brokein2 Been here awhile

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    Hoax? No need for that....just have him take your wallet to school. I know the money in mine never stops being removed to spend on more ADV gear.:rofl

    Sounds like a great project that you two will be able to remember for a long time. :clap
    #5
  6. 100mpg

    100mpg Self Imposed Exile

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    Sounds like you.. I mean he ...has alot of work ahead. Let him think.
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  7. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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    A cutaway is a cool idea, but having taught Industrial Technology in Middle School for 5 years I would say that what you want to do is more suitable for the 15-17 year old age range. If you want to do a carburetor project, use a simple carb like a tecumseh lawnmower carb:
    [​IMG]

    and just have him take it apart and then you both can epoxy the pieces to a board and he can make up labels for what each piece does. If you want to make a killer app for this, come up with a small clear plastic box and figure out how to put an old perfume atomizer that the two of you find at a goodwill store in it with the squeeze bulb on the outside of the box and put colored water in it, so people can squeeze the bulb and see the water magically rise in the tube.

    Even what I just suggested would be a lot of work for a 12 year old, but doable and he will learn a bit more himself this way too.
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  8. chambersc

    chambersc Been here awhile

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    So I ended up with a much nicer and higher end carb than I planned on. Stopped in at my buddy's shop, and he hands me a late model CV carb he had lying around. Damned near perfect shape. Seems a shame to cut it up but it was for one of those cheap Chinese scooter and the air cut off was bad. Couldn't get the part so the customer opted to replace the whole carb.

    Anyway, as much as I agree that the mower carb would probably be better, we're going to go with this.

    On an unrelated note, damned guy had a pretty nice 1984 Yamaha FJ1100 sitting in the shop he had just picked up from someone needing cash now. One of my favorite bikes. 27k miles, 4 into 1 V&H pipe, etc and runs like a champ. Leaking fork seal and a broken front fender. Told me he would take $1500. Thank god I didn't have the cash or I would have been bringing home a CV carb AND an FJ1100.

    Someone needs to buy that thing and get it out of my sight.
    #8
  9. Skinner

    Skinner Mr.KTM

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    Maybe you could loan out your project to the rest us so we can learn how a carb works :lol3
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  10. Tmaximusv

    Tmaximusv Long timer

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    Yeah, $0.02 here but something to consider.

    Great idea for getting bonding and learning for both of you.

    Depending on the judges and the level of the science fair, I'll say up front that unless a hypothesis is being "tested", judges won't be impressed regardless of how well done the project or how much he knows about the function. BTDT

    By testing, I mean how has a question about carburetors been thought thorugh and a variable introduced that can be analyzed, documented and reported. I took a Sr to MN State Sci Fair one year with an engine project, mostly related to fuels in a small engine (my old lawnmower eventually became a donor). While he did well in his category, I was stunned by many of the entries. Stunned at the "corporate sponsorship" involved, too.

    Do the "process" while having a good time and you will both get great rewards. The process is what wows judges.

    BTW, have you considered the similarities between carburetoors and hearts? This can get mom into the process, too.
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  11. 74C5

    74C5 Long timer

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    Maybe why the motorcycle doesn't fall down when the wheels are turning instead? Exception would be "lay 'er down moves.
    Replicate a m/c wheel and prove gyroscopic effects?
    #11
  12. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    Maybe something a little easier. I still don't know how a carb works. There is a little squirt gun, mini toilet bowl float, some sewing neddles, funny looking screws with holes in them.

    Maybe jsut general internal combustion engine. Four stroke vs 2 stroke.
    #12
  13. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I've got it!

    It seems to me the OP is going with the carb cutaway project, but a theory needs to be tested right? So how can they test gasoline vs. ethanol ("renewable" fuels) to see which is more efficient?

    Theory: ethanol fuel contains less BTU's than gasoline by volume.

    Test: show both fuels burning on a wick heating a metal bowl of water, with a thermometer in the water. The cutaway carb could be part of the display, along with an ear of corn, and a soup can painted like a barrel of crude oil.

    Pros:
    1. Flame is like flashing lights, and will get lots of attention.

    Cons:
    1. You would need to show the flow rate was the same for both fuels. Maybe Mom can come up with intravenous drip stuff for this part?
    2. Would the school allow flame? If the answer is no, this whole idea is shot.
    #13
  14. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    12 year old!!!
    #14
  15. Mr. Canoehead

    Mr. Canoehead Taste Gunnels!

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    Great advice. I have judged a lot of these and you can always tell which projects are done by the kids and which are done by the adults for the kids....
    #15
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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  17. chambersc

    chambersc Been here awhile

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    So the short version is the whole project was rejected and replaced with one (picked by the teacher) of "grow four identicle plants in four pots while watering one with water, one with gatorade, one with ammonia, and one with soda pop. Report resuslts.

    My personaly opinion here, the teacher had no idea how to grade the carburetor and sent him home with a safe project that she knew how to grade because she's seen it done every year for her 20 year career. So much for a child learning what he wants to learn with something that might actually interest him. Lets just do this no child left behind BS project so I can give you a C and send you on the way with another check box marked off on my govenment forms.

    So yea, I'm a little pissed off. He's doing the plant project under durress but he's doing it. He has zero interest in it and really doesnt care. So in the meantime, he and I are cutting this carb apart anyway and doing this experiment our way. At least he'll learn something he's interested in.
    #17
  18. airborndad

    airborndad Long timer

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    sucks about the teacher rejecting the idea
    Maybe switch it up a little so the results end up being something the teacher hasn't seen before :huh

    try to have fun with it anyways
    #18
  19. accurate iron

    accurate iron Adventurer

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    Not so bad- make sure that he make a prediction prior to performing the experiment and write it down; thats what he will be testing, whether he's right or wrong on his hypothesis.

    A few suggestions, if I may, so he doesnt kill three out of four plants, and is left with nothing to measure or report.
    Have him water all four plants, measure out the same amount for all four. say, a half a cup every other day; whatever gets the soil moist.

    The one with the water is his "normal" or "control" plant. The other three are the "test" subjects, and should have the other liquids applied in addition to the normal water. Id suggest something like 5-10 drops from an eye dropper every 3-4 days, or every week, if its long enough of a time until he needs to stop.

    Things he should measure and/or record weekly or bi-weekly are length of longest main stem, # of leaves, and color of leaves. at the end of the experiment, he should remove all the plants from the soil, wash out all the soil, dry the plant, roots and all, and weigh them. If he wants to get cute, separate the roots from the abovegruond stuff and weigh separately. That will show some results.

    Too bad about the carb idea; thats sounded pretty interesting. At least he should grab an A from the govt teacher!

    pm me if I can help any further. I did this crap all the time back when I was teaching college botany.
    #19
  20. DR-Zamboni

    DR-Zamboni Been here awhile

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    thats too bad... that carb idea would have been good, and with a small air compressor, some tube work, and some colored water you could have actively demonstrated bernoulli's principle. Im in grad school for mechanical engineering, and do some experiments in the fluid dynamics lab here and there. I would have been able to help with the theory behind the experiment with the carb. I would have done a cut-away to show the inner workings of the carb, then tubed up an air compressor and some duct work to a good carb. Fill the bowl with colored water, and hold a white sheet on the "out" side of the carb, and show how it "sucks" the colored fluid from the bowl into the air stream, due to bernoulli's principle. Control the pressure from the air compressor line (air speed) and show how 1 minute of high pressure and 1 minute of low pressure differ on the amount of die on the white sheet. Hypothesis is your thoughts on how air speed effects the amount of dye on the sheet.

    Thats an A project right there, keep it in mind for the future. It can be advanced for 12 years old, as I didnt learn the basics of bernoulli's principle till high school. And the advanced applications of the principle as an undergrad in my 3rd year.

    This project will grab the attention of any kid who has a dirtbike and has heard the word carburetor once or twice.

    Since you are stuck with the plant project, you should do it right. Take the advice of the botanist that previously posted. Teach the kid that if you are going to do something, do it right even if you arent totally interested. The good projects will come to you after you have proved good work ethic.
    #20