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Need some help with a science project!!!

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by Wallace, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Frogwood

    Frogwood New Member

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    [quote author="gzecc" date="1323857890"]something easy would be using a moisture meter on the different stages of dried woods and recording the reading.[Yes, and explain what happens when you burn wet wood vs dry wood...kids can then visualize stacked wood piles and understand why folks cut wood and save it for later. They might even question the wood you burn in your own stove once they know the difference and what effect it has on the environment. Yes, I have an 8yr old myself. /quote]

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  2. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Member

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    OK. I'm in. First step is for your daughter to tell you (us?) what it is that she is curious about. "What is it that you're wondering about concerning wood heat?" might be a good question to ask her. Help her refine the question into something that can be answered using the scientific method. Help her see the difference between a question science can answer and all the rest of tqhe questions. Next step is to have her tell you what she THINKS the answer to her question will be. Help her understand that THAT is her hypothesis. (Teach her that word if necessary.) Once she gets that far, then we can help her design an experiment to try to find out what the answer to her question might be.

    -Speak
  3. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    WHAT? What are you teaching?
    A solid piece of hickory the exact size of a piece of balsa wood will displace the same volume.
    This says nothing about density.
    No wonder our kids are way behind...

    I'm outta here.

    Aye,
    Marty
  4. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think density and moisture content are too boring for an eight year old. She is interested in heating properties of wood, which means burning!
  5. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Cya Marty, Have a nice day, Aye
  6. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, my popcorn was all gone anyway. :p
  7. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Density is mass per volume. Kathleen probably just assumed that weighing the piece of wood was a given. No need to rant so much. The problem I have with using displacement to measure volume is that most wood will float in water. You can push it under but that adds some error.

    Maybe we should let the kid decide what she wants to show before we come up with a bunch of experiments that will not address her question.
  8. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    I saw a TV special where they showed through experiments that a small child had a conceptually grasp of density (knew which of the identically-sized balls was dense enough to dispense the reward) while chimps just never got it at any age. I know something as simple as just determining density woulda bored the crap out of me when I was eight. But, heck, my favorite present of all time back then was the 21-volume science encyclopedia that my maternal grandmother gave me for Christmas that year.

    I see no harm with advice about methodology and parameters. Hell, even when I was in college I got help with experiments. I remember one particular one where I wanted to establish growth rates of E. coli in various growth media. The bacteriology prof spent hours with me showing me how to use the equipment, some of which she hadn't used in years and had to be pulled out of the mothballs. In the end, though, it was my idea, my analysis, my writeup. I only had the time to make one run, so everything had to be thought out very carefully. Well, everything wasn't. The problem was that the stuff grew so damn fast that I was unable to keep up with the handling of the hundreds of samples, even with the aid of a conscripted lab assistant (my wife). But I learned more from that failure and the subsequent writeup I had to do than from any single thing I learned in class.

    At eight years old, the main thing you want to do is to develop an understanding of the scientific method and hopefully keep the spark of curiosity alive. Time to start teaching how to write the results and conclusions properly as well. Personally, I think Marty's idea would be very interesting, but the child (or I should say the parent) likely lacks the necessary equipment to accurately measure small wood samples. However, a cheap digital balance that reads in 1/100 gram increments can be found on online. Microwave drying would be a hell of a lot faster as well, keeping the young attention span from drifting.


    Establishing a null hypothesis for an experiment with only a small number of samples and where no statistics are to be employed is kinda pointless to me, though.


    The stove would need to be more sophisticated, something that would burn the wood to only ash and is well insulated so that all of the heat is directed at the water above. A simple rocket stove would meet this need, and would be a fascinating learning project for the child as well.


  9. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the laugh Dan . . . I needed this today.
  10. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    That's just an assumption on your part. She may be dumber than a bag of rocks. JK

    The problem with directly measuring volume is that the wood shrinks and warps a lot as it dries. Plus, even using a high-quality Starrett rule would not give accurate enough results, you'd need to take several measurements with a dial caliper and average them all out. However, with the proper size graduated cylinder, three needles stuck into a cork like a tripod could push the sample just under the water without skewing the results at all and give a much better result. Gets to use more lab equipment instead of a mundane ruler, as well as getting a lesson in displacement. Maybe she'll even have an Archimedean "Eureka" moment of her own.


    Sure, but I think she may need some direction to see what kinds of results might actually be useful before she makes that decision. But since she is already interested in the heating properties of various woods, I think she will come to the conclusion that she wants to show how much fuel energy is stored in each of them per unit volume.
  11. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude Member

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    ...and have her pull up some sites with BTU ratings too!
  12. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Poof no more Marty, he was just too serious for us
  13. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Wrong. If the object in question has a density less than that of water, it will float. Then the weight of the water displaced will exactly equal the weight of the floating object. As Hickory is a higher density wood than Balsa, then if they are exactly the same size, the (heavier) Hickory will sink farther into the water before it begins to float, thus displacing more water as compared with the less dense (lighter) Balsa. If we were talking about solid materials whose density was greater than that of water, so that when immersed they would completely sink rather than float, and we wanted to measure their volume, then yes, the amount of water displaced by two different samples of equal dimensions would displace exactly the same amopunt of liquid when immersed, but it wouldn't tell us anything about the weights of the samples, only their volumes. Rick
  14. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude Member

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  15. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    As the father of an eight year old daughter, I have to say that Marty S's outline for an experiment is entirely appropriate, and well within her capabilities. Some of the other suggestions are good too, but using a real scientific procedure with precise measurements and taking into account as many variables as possible is a valuable and enhanced learning experience. When you dumb it down, the results are not reliable. That's a good lesson to learn in itself. He's not trying to do the project for her but providing exactly what was asked for.

    Ehouse
  16. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Some kids blow up get mad and take there ball and go home, and never grow up- As a granpa of about 8 there's another Lesson.
  17. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Well, now I'm gonna assume something. I gonna assume that Marty meant you had to push the wood under water to get its volume by displacement. Of course, you can do both. You can determine the weight by measuring the displaced water while floating, then determine the volume by pushing the floating wood under the surface of the water and taking another displacement reading.

    But all this makes me think that if these minor details are such sticking points for the engineers, what hope does an 8 year-old child have? %-P
  18. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Meanwhile..... I wonder what the original poster and kid old are doing tonight :)

    pen
  19. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Me too :lol:
  20. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    When I was eight, this crap would be too boring for me, I would have lost interest, and gone on to something more fun.
    It can be a fun experiment, and not so bookwormish.
    Depends on the kid I suppose.
    Now actual burning of wood, that I would have gotten into though.
  21. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    Wow! This step provides only the volume. You also need to get the mass. It's how you determine the density of an irregularly shaped object. I didn't feel the need to bore everyone with the details. Just pointing out that the volume part of the equation can be determined when you can't get LxWxH.

    I can't imagine how much your life sucks if you felt the need to de-value a complete stranger. I wish nothing but hearts and unicorns for you from this point on. You sound like you need it. If I made you feel insulted, I'm sorry. I have run, judged, and entered kids into science fairs, so the points I made were not to counter yours. Just to add my two cents.
  22. Dirtsurgeon

    Dirtsurgeon New Member

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    What a perfect response Kathleen. I'm not sure I would have put that much thought or time into responding to such a post. Good on you.:)
  23. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    thanks.

    regarding wood that is less dense than water so it will float---
    You aren't measuring the density at that point, just the volume via displacement, so you could manipulate it to displace an equal amount of water. It's a bit of a rough measurement, but it would work.
  24. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    This one has the makings of being out of hand about two pages ago. Off to The Nook.

    Folks if you want to talk to each other that is what PMs or for. This ain't a chat room.
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    They've given up and have decided to grow some green beans in Dixie cups and see how tall they will get . . . at least that was my type of science fair experiments . . . well that and the one year when I attempted to propagate potatoes asexually through tissue culture (but that was in high school.)

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