Project Ideas

This page presents ideas for students to use electronics to make interesting science and engineering projects. The ideas are organized by science subject: biology, chemistry, general science, physics.

Ask me for help on these projects. I already have many of the parts and I know how to get what we need.

Engineering / Accoustics
Make an acoustic levitator. Here is an example built by Tokyo University researchers. Another link.

Physics / optical illusions
Make a powerful strobe light to "freeze" high speed events. Photograph the impact of objects, such as drops of water onto a liquid, the motion of fly's wings, the bursting of a balloon. This works even better on events that repeat, such as a spinning wheel, the pistons of an engine, a stream of water drops. For repetitive events you can make the action appear in slow-motion, or appear frozen or seem to run backwards. Here is an example.

Biology / psychology
Make a "lie detector" (skin conductivity tester) and test peoples' ability to hide the truth. Test their reaction to various stimuli. For example, how long does it take for someone to recognize a picture (1 second? A fraction of a second?)

Make a reflex timer. How fast can someone respond to catch a ball? Are athletes faster than "normal" people?

General Science/Astronomy
Using electronics, make a sensor to measure the brightness of a star. This interesting because certain stars are variable. They become brighter and dimmer over time. To work properly, this sensor would be used on a telescope. We have a telescope available for serious students' use. Extra challenge: A few stars dim slightly when a extra-terrestrial planet passes in front of them - showing that would be a really impressive achievement.

General Science/Seismology
Using electronics, make a seismometer, a device to measure the earthquakes that happen around the world and right here in California. Perhaps you can predict when the next earthquake will hit us? You could show that your seismometer agrees with the government's network, but then you could use your device to home in on earthquake activity under Pico Rivera.

Make an advanced ground penetrating metal detector. Use it to map forgotten underground cables, gas lines. Map historic sites such as Pio Pico.

Make a telescope star tracker. Automatically keep telescope on-target to perform astronomical observations. This project would involve servo motors, but we can get these without too much trouble.

Physics and Chemistry
Make an atmospheric aerosol sensor. Using photo sensors, monitor the pollution level in our region. Compare with EPA readings. Your measurements are likely to be more timely and accurate for Pico Rivera than the governments.

Physics and Chemistry
Make an spectroscopic analyzer, a device that identifies the elements in a chemical sample using the atoms energy levels. This is where chemistry, physics and electrical engineering can work together. Use it to analyze samples from our environment.

Chemistry / thermodynamics
Make a "bomb," a device for measuring the total energy released in a chemical reaction. It would hold all of the reactants (so it has to be sealed) and it measures the precise change in temperature caused by the reaction. Compare your results with the textbooks. (Often, the results have surprising differences. Who is right? You or the book?)

Build a simple radio telescope. Observe Jupiter, the "brightest" astronomical object in the radio spectrum.

Build a cosmic ray detector. Observe high energy particle from supernovas. Search for sources of high energy protons.