Saturday, May 03, 2008

Science fair

Z's school had a "science fair". Students perform an experiment at home, and present their findings at the fair.

He had a truck roll down a ramp. Steeper inclines made the truck roll longer distances.

Making the truck heavier, with a roll of quarters, also made it roll longer.

We even had one unanticipated result: when we did the experiment on carpet, the heavier truck actually rolled less. I suppose the surface of the carpet resists heavier trucks more than it does lighter ones.

At first, I was sceptical of the idea of a science fair, but it ended up being a good exercise in the process of experimenting. As the lab-director, I insisted that my scientist repeat each experiment three times, and use only the median result, to leave out errors, e.g. a shaken hand, or an incorrect reading. After over 100 separate observations, Galileo needed some chocolate milk.


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