The Inventucator Challenge List

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The Inventucator Challenge List

SIBA - Possible Challenges List







Computer Sci


Graphic Art






Earth Science




Physical Science






Home Ec


Social Studies








Foreign Language



Our Feature Challenge:
A Whale of a Problem    (2,4,7,14)
The National Museum of Education has joined forces with a marine research project named WhaleNet, located in Boston, Mass. (Click on their name to check out their web-site.) An important part of this research project is tagging whales, sea turtles, and dolphins with electronic devices that radio important data about the animal's migratory habits, etc. Unfortunately, these expensive electronic "tags" tend to fall off the animal within a week or less. So far, various designs of barbs and/or adhesives have been used for attaching the tags. The researchers at WhaleNet are earnestly seeking a more secure method of attaching these electronic devices to the marine animals. If you have any suggestions, send them to us here at the Museum. And, if your suggestion is outstanding, there is the possibility that you could be flown to Boston to test out your idea in person!



UP IN SMOKE    (2,8,10,15)
Health official would like to know why students smoke. Design and conduct a survey to learn the reasons. Compile and interpret the results.



THE VALUE OF AGE    (1,3,8,9,15)
Many young people and young adults fail to recognize the value of our elderly population. Design a program or marketing/advertising strategy that would involve young people with senior citizens so that they will come to better understand and appreciate one another.



Unwanted flocks of birds are a troublesome problem to some businesses. These birds tend to congregate around buildings, creating problems. Devise a method of preventing birds from congregating. The method must be safe and harmless to both the birds and humans.



SHOW ME    (6,14)
Some scientific concepts are difficult to get across to students in the classroom. The Coriolis Effect is one. Can you think of a way to   effectively explain and demonstrate it in the classroom? If so, write a description of how to construct whatever equipment or models you would need. Please include drawings.



Devise an interesting and understandable way to demonstrate and explain in a classroom the principle of the Foucault Pendulum. This should be a method that can be easily employed by any teacher in any classroom.



"NOZONE"    (All areas)
The ozone layer at 35,000 feet is good for you. The ozone layer when it's at nose level is not! When inhaled, ozone is produced by photocopiers, electric motors, and the interaction of sunlight on auto exhaust. Develop a way to detect ozone.



BIKER     (7,9,10,13)
Riding a bike at night can be dangerous! Modify a bike to make it safer (more visible)
to ride at dusk/night.



Create a demonstration designed to utilize an overhead projector that will demonstrate fluid convection currents. A major science supply company is interested in your ideas on this one.



WINDY     (1,6,9,14)
Why does the wind blow? Pretty simple, don't you think? Now you need to create a demonstration that utilizes an overhead projector to answer what seems like a simple question. A major science supply company is interested in this one too!


Ever notice the change in pitch from the noise a car or train makes when it passes you? That's the Doppler effect! Find a way to demonstrate the Doppler effect in the classroom. You must demonstrate that the change in wavelength is apparent ONLY to the observer.



"G"    (13,14)
Like to ride the "Rotor" at the amusement parks because you love the thrill of the floor dropping out from under you? Gravitational forces are particularly hard to demonstrate in the classroom, but we're sure there are a few Newtons out there who can give us some ideas.



The weightlessness of falling objects can be a difficult concept to understand. Design an easy but effective method to demonstrate zero-gravity in the classroom.



If ocean tides are caused by the moon's gravitational pull, then why do high tides always appear on the side of the earth that is OPPOSITE THE MOON? Design a unique and simple way to demonstrate this odd behavior of ocean tides.



Design an effective and unique method of demonstrating the law of conservation of energy.



THROWING A CURVE    (6,9,12)
If you ever looked at a topographic map then you have seen contour lines. But what do they mean? Design a method for effectively demonstrating the use of contour lines to a classroom.



A difficult concept for many students to understand is the relationship between volume and density. You know, like when you squeeze a sponge... the volume decreases but the density increases. Right? If you completely understand this concept, then how about helping those who don't. Design an effective device that will demonstrate this phenomenon safely in the classroom.



Any devices you invent that assist in the forecasting and measurement of weather would be of very great interest to us. (Any ideas you have for improving the weather around here would be appreciated even more!)




A safe and effective way to demonstrate the difference between the behavior of alternating current and direct current would be extremely useful...and marketable! Any ideas?



CREATE A LOGO    (1,3,4,9)
The Suburban Seamless Gutter company of Hudson, Ohio, needs a logo for their business. See what you can do!



SLEEPY TIMES IN ANTSVILLE            (2,7,14)
Insects are very temperature sensitive. When it is cold, they become dormant; when it becomes warm, they become active again. We want to find out at what temperature the average ant wakes up and goes to work. This problem is sponsored by Blaze Technical Services, Inc., a manufacturer of thermocouples. These are electronic temperature sensors which come in many sizes and shapes. To be awarded, you must consult their online catalog of thermocouples and propose a method of solving this problem. You do not actually have to take the temperature of sleepy ants!! Using any of the styles thermocouples you see pictured in the web site (plus any other devices) propose a workable method (in writing) by which a researcher could accurately gather this data on ants. Keep it simple and have fun. The best idea(s) will receive a free dual input hand held thermometer and two thermocouples!!



Genetically modified foods (GMO’s) have been for sale commercially since the 1990’s but still little is known of the impact they have to the human body when they’re digested. Are these foods any different from all their natural counterparts? HS-LS1-6



Fracking is a process of pumping sand, water, and various chemicals into deep shale beds to release any trapped gas that may be stored into these rocks. The process of fracking has been around for almost half a century but has been recently modified with another process called horizontal drilling. The effects of the combined two processes on the environment are still uncertain. Can you think of any benefits or harmful side effects that this new process may have? Also, can you develop a model that helps demonstrate the new process? HS-LS2-2, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-6, HS-ETS1-1



Landfills in the United States are quickly filling up and we are running out of places to put it all. Recycling is one solution that could help slow this process but still something needs to be done. Landfills can be very dangerous to the environment if any dangerous chemicals leak into ground water or if they run off into nearby streams and rivers. Are there any other safe alternatives to landfills or what are some other ways we can solve this problem? MS-ESS3-3, MS-ETS1-1, HS-LS2-2, HS-ESS3-6, HS-ETS1-1


Research and data indicate that the overall climate of the Earth is increasing along with increasing rates of CO2 in the atmosphere. Is this something we should be concerned about and what are some possible outcomes if this trend continues? Also, is there anything we can do to reduce global CO2 emissions or slow down the rate at which the temperature is increasing? MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-5, HS-LS2-2, HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS3-6



One issue facing whales today is that cargo boats travel on routes that interfere with the migrating paths of whales. More and more whales are being hit by these cargo ships and their numbers are depleting rapidly. What are some ways in which we can reduce this from happening? MS-ETS1-1, HS-LS2-2



One problem associated with an increased global temperature is that the northern ice cap has been shrinking very quickly. This is the home to a variety of polar bears, seals, birds, and whales that may all be affected by the decrease amount of land available along with a change in temperature. Is there anything we can do to help our troubled friends? MS-ESS2-6, MS-ESS3-5, HS-LS2-2, HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS2-5



Sugar and sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, are in almost all the processed foods we eat and yet most people believe it is relatively bad for our bodies. A possible outcome of these ingredients being introduced in our foods is an increased amount of type II diabetes being diagnosed in America. Is sugar better for our bodies when compared to high fructose corn syrup? What are some possible long-term consequences of a diet that consists of a high amount of either sugar or other natural sweeteners? HS-LS1-6



Scientist can use information about the magnitude, number of occurrences, and location of previous earthquakes to predict when and where future earthquakes will occur. While this method is effective, it is not 100% accurate. Can you think of any other ways to predict earthquakes or other natural disasters? MS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS1-5, HS-ETS1-1



Acid rain is caused by pollution produced in highly industrialized areas. Many major cities around the world suffer from the damages of acid rain. It can pollute water supplies and kill entire ecosystems as well as cause damage to metal materials and destroy the paint on cars. Can you think of any ways we can reduce acid rain itself or any ways that we reduce the effects caused by it? HS-PS2-6, HS-ESS2-5



Dark energy was originally introduced by Albert Einstein and we know today that it must exist because of its effects it has on the Universe. Very little is known about dark energy, but it is estimated that 68% of the Universe is made of it. What else can you discover about this mysterious energy?



Much research has been dedicated to understanding the human brain and to try and answer questions about why we do the things we do. We have made some very unique and interesting discoveries but there is still much that needs to be discovered.  Why do humans blush? Even Darwin couldn’t come up with an evolutionary reason why we’d blush if we were caught cheating or lying to someone.



Why do we dream and what are dreams made of? There are many theories that seem to have explanations, but nothing is of complete certainty.



We have recently discovered underwater lakes or sometimes they are referred to as cold seeps. They are found in the ocean where there is a sudden change from high to low density water caused from a salt gradient. They have their own waves and experience high and low tides. Can you develop a model that can accurately show this phenomenon?  Or what more information can you discover about these underwater lakes? HS-ESS2-5



Humans have made it to the moon and back but have still yet to explore the abyss of our own planet. The deepest parts of the ocean may contain biology and marine life that is still unfathomable to most people. The problem with exploring the depths of the ocean is that it is hard to find materials and technology that can survive the pressure as we travel further down from the surface. Can you think of any materials or technology we can use to discover this hidden world? HS-PS2-6



Due to many factors, glaciers that provide almost 1/3 of the world’s population with fresh water and hydroelectricity are depleting very rapidly. Something must be done to help prevent flooding in high risk areas and protect the people that live there or need the areas to survive. The effects of glacial flooding have already been seen in a multiple population within the last 5 years. What do you suggest we can do to help? HS-PS3-3, HS-LS2-1, HS-ESS2-2, HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS2-5



As most people know, gas prices are at their highest prices in history due to many factors. One reason is that our natural resources are being depleted at an extremely high rate and if the trend continues some models predict we could run out within the next 100 years. Can you think of an alternative biofuel that would save our natural resources? HS-PS3-3, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ESS3-6



“Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge ... An estimated 70% of the Earth is made of water and of that 90% of it is salt water. Can you design something that we can use to convert saltwater into freshwater? It would be great if it were transportable and could be used on boats! Also: could it be possible to operate without electricity so that it could be used in times of a crisis? HS-ESS2-5



There are many branches of science (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) and in school we separate and teach them this way. It is confusing to some students how all branches are interconnected in some way or another. For example, a common process that occurs in biology is respiration. In order to understand how and why this process works it is important to understand the chemistry of how atoms and molecules interact with each other. Can you come up with any models that will help students to make the connections between the various branches of science?



Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of DNA strands. They’re original purpose was thought to just protect DNA from becoming unwound but now more research is being done on their function. It is thought that telomeres may tell us how long we live and could be preventative against some forms of cancer. What else can you discover about these protective telomeres?



Repaving roads is a continuous process because of the material that they are paved with. Asphalt is relatively easy and cost efficient to continue paving our roads, but it does not handle weathering very well. Places that experience all of the seasons and have frequent changes in climate are more prone to weathering. Can you find a material that would never have to be repaved due to cracking and weathering? HS-PS2-6, HS-ETS1-1



In the United States, a lot of our natural resources are spent on trying to heat and cool our houses. What are some more efficient ways of staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter?



A common misconception in Earth and Space science is that students believe we experience seasons due to the changing of distance between the Earth and the Sun, closer together in the summer and farther apart in the winter. Although this is a logical explanation, it is not the reason we experience seasons. Can you come up with a model that demonstrates that this is not the correct reasoning and one that shows students the true reason for the Earth having seasons?



There are many misconceptions that students have when trying to describe clouds and rain. Some believe that rain comes from holes in clouds or that it rains only when clouds melt. Can you make a model that demonstrates the properties of clouds and shows where the different forms of precipitation come from? This model should include how clouds form and move, as well as showing the differences between the various types of clouds. MS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS2-2



Some students have trouble understanding the conservation of energy. Students think that when an atom loses an electron, the electron and its associated energy are lost and just disappear. Also, it can be confusing for students to think an object at rest still has energy. Can you think of an easy way to demonstrate these properties to students? HS-PS3-3



Some research has been dedicated to understanding clouds and how they affect air quality. Some harmful substances can be turned into benign products after going through clouds while some harmless molecules can be mixed together to form hazardous chemicals. Can you show how this happens and how we can use this information to help increase our air quality? HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4



The Sun provides the Earth with energy that the plants use to sustain life. We have developed solar panels that help us collect this energy and make it usable in our lives. Although solar panels do work, we need something that is more efficient at storing all the energy released by the Sun. Can you think of anyways that we can collect and store the Suns energy so that we can use it to power cities and save our fossil fuels? HS-PS2-6, HS-PS3-3, HS-ESS1-1, HS-ESS2-2, HS-ETS1-1



Alzheimer’s disease affects memory, thinking, and behavior and usually worsens with time. Although there is medicine that helps slow the process, there is no way of stopping or reversing it after it has progressed. Can you find any ways to diagnose, prevent, treat or reverse this disease?



One problem with finding fossils is that they can be found anywhere, and they can be hidden by many layers of rock. Can you think of anyways we can find hidden fossils when standing on the surface? MS-ESS2-3



There have recently been talks of transporting water via a pipeline from the Great Lakes to southern regions which are more prone to droughts. Do you think this is a good or bad idea? What are some immediate and long-term effects on the environment of building a pipeline of this size? HS-LS2-7, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4



The oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 has been difficult to clean up. There are still an estimated 95 miles of land that still need to be cleaned up even three years after it originally occurred. Can you think of any more productive ways to clean this disaster up? HS-LS2-7, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1



Many students develop the misconception that cellular respiration only occurs in animals and not in plants. Can you develop an experiment or model that demonstrates that plants use photosynthesis and cellular respiration to sustain life? HS-LS1-5, HS-LS1-7, HS-LS2-5



Corral bleaching is becoming more of a problem with increased levels of acidity in the ocean as well as increased water temperature. Is there anything we can do to help save the corral from becoming extinct as well as the vast community that relies on it for life? HS-LS2-7, HS-LS2-7, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4



The world’s population is steadily increasing while the size of the world is not. The more people we have living in the world, the quicker our natural resources will become depleted. What are some solutions to help save our resources? MS-ESS3-4, HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-7, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1


The spreading of diseases can be difficult because viruses and bacteria don’t always have an immediate effect on their host. People who live in cities are more prone to become infected because they usually have more contact with people or are at higher risk of picking up the bacteria/virus elsewhere. Washing your hands and being clean may help to limit the disease but can you think of any more effective ways to prevent diseases from spreading?



An airless tire has been an idea that has floated around for a while. Most prototypes have many flaws though and are just unrealistic. The fact remains though that tires still explode or pop on the highway and cause many accidents every year. Can you come up with a realistic model for an airless tire or something equivalent that makes the road a safer place? HS-PS2-6



Access to clean water around the globe is still a problem. An estimated 350 million people still don’t have access to clean water and 3.5 million die each year from drinking contaminated water. What are some ways we can provide these people with clean drinking water? HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1



To get dogs and cats to eat what’s good for them is a problem many pet owners have. Animal food companies usually had ingredients and chemicals to attract the animals to their food, but it is still a problem. Spike doesn’t want to eat his plain dry food while his owner Sally is eating a juicy hamburger with the works. Can you think of anything that would help attract animals to their nutritious meals?



There has been an increased amount of emergency room visits due to people getting in accidents from skateboarding, BMXing, parkouring, and other extreme sports. Are there any preventions (other than wearing a helmet) that you can think of for these athletes to take to reduce the risk of an accident or serious injury? HS-PS2-6



A lot of health issues can stem back to having a problem with your thyroid. We know that it is an important gland and it is important to protect. What are some precautionary measures we can take to make sure we protect this organ and reduce our likely hood of having a problem in our thyroid?



There is a large portion of natural resources that is used for food transportation. Cities usually always have to have food transported to them because there is no place to grow it. Is there a way that we could grow food right in the cities and cut down on the amount of natural resources used for transportation? MS-ESS3-4, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1



The ocean holds a lot of methane that is trapped in sedimentary rocks or even ice. It is estimated that the amount of trapped methane could be 2-10 times more than the methane we currently have available. This could potentially be a new source of fuel, but it is hard to extract efficiently. What are some ways we could extract the methane efficiently? MS-ESS2-1, HS-ESS2-2, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1



Another problem associated with an expanding population is where is everybody going to live? Engineers are trying to develop housing that is more efficient at providing people with space while not taking up as much land. Can you come up with any practical designs to cities and houses that don’t take up as much space but can still house multiple people? MS-ESS3-4, HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-7 HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS3-2, HS-ESS3-3, HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-1



With more nuclear power being used in the world today, there is a higher risk of having a disaster at one of the plants. Chernobyl was the first major disaster and the effects that it has had on the environment are still not completely known. Can you think of any ways to clean up a disaster such as this one and reduce its effects on the environment? HS-PS3-3, HS-LS2-7, HS-ETS1-1