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Abromination
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[*] posted on 27-7-2018 at 18:45
Senior Science Fair Ideas?


For my high school senior science fair progect this year, I want to do something that will absolutely blow the judges away (chemistry related, of course). I was going to extract piperine from black pepper, but have heard about people on this forum getting called out for making MDA by his own teacher, parents and peers. I would love to do something of the sort WITHOUT getting accused of cooking and would love to hear all of your suggestions.



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[*] posted on 27-7-2018 at 18:58


If you want to win a science fair, you have to do real science - an experiment to find an answer.

For example, discharge batteries under controlled conditions to determine the average amp-hours and standard deviation by brand/model.

Other ideas would be hypochlorite concentration in bleach, mineral content in sugar, time for drain cleaners to eat through a paper towel, etc.




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[*] posted on 27-7-2018 at 19:09


Well of course it would be a valid scientific experiment using the scientific method I just want some ideas for my question. I have never done differently. I am just curious to hear your ideas.



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[*] posted on 27-7-2018 at 20:54


Hey there.
Thanks for reminding me about that thread of mine - i completely forgot to update it with the happy ending that it was.

Anyway, I did science fair projects for both of the last two semesters. Both times I got 100% on them.
First one I did was the synthesis of sodium metal via 1,4-dioxane. The second one was the extraction of piperine from peppercorns and determination of the purest extraction solvent to use via H-NMR.
Though i enjoyed the first one more, I feel as though the second one was actually a better science fair project. As JJay said, I did find a non binary answer to my question.
The question for the first one was: "Can i make Na(s) in my home lab?". Answer: Yes.
The question for the second one was: "What is the purest extraction solvent for Piperine from peppercorns?" Answer: MeOH.
If you wanted to do a project similar to mine, you could try a different thing to extract. I don't think you can turn capsaicin into amphetamines easily. Nor citric acid. The list goes on.

And actually, i wouldn't be afraid of trying the piperine one. What i'm pretty sure happened was that a student teacher, who had just graduated uni, made a joke about me making MDMA or MDA when I went to him for suggestions on my project and to put me in contact with the guy who runs the NMR at his old uni. It turns out that he made both of these compounds, and many more phenethylamines, for his degree. I reckon somebody overheard and the school was just being extra cautious. It was really annoying but I think it was just a perfect storm of sorts... and it worked itself out in the end and I got 100% on the project.

If you do decide to do some variation of the piperine one, U2U me and i'll send you all 35 pages of raw NMR data i got, plus the few photos as well as what i wrote about my project and any advice i can offer.




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[*] posted on 28-7-2018 at 05:53


Previously on SM I discuss the topic of fuels spikes (see https://www.sciencemadness.org/whisper/viewthread.php?tid=76... ). Interestingly, I came across the following statement in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol), to quote:

"As a fuel for mud racers, methanol mixed with gasoline and nitrous oxide produces more power than gasoline and nitrous oxide alone."

I suspect that high temperatures activated a mix of N2O and CH3OH (which is apparently corrosive in contact with heated metal oxide surfaces forming methanol radicals and NxOy and associated products) is responsible for the improved performance.

As such, I recommend a science fair project of say adding a previously prepared photolysis mix of methanol and water with some NH4NO3 to be subsequently added to a mix of gasoline and CH3OH containing dissolved N2O.

Logic: The photolysis (best conducted near a large body of water or snow to increase UV content) of methanol (absence the presence of oxygen) readily forms methyl and hydroxyl radicals, NH4NO3 adds nitrate ions and therefrom nitrate radicals. The most active radical products, which vary depending on wavelength associated branching ratios, include:

CH3OH + hv → •CH3O + •H (see http://chemistry.emory.edu/faculty/widicusweaver/posters/CCU... )
CH3OH + hv → •CH2OH + •H
CH3OH + hv → •CH3 + •OH (see prior comments and references also at https://www.sciencemadness.org/whisper/viewthread.php?tid=27... )

NH4NO3 + H2O = NH4+ + NO3-

NH4+ = H+ + NH3

NO3- + •OH = •NO3 + OH- (see http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001JGR...106.4995P and Table 1 at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1029/2006... )

NO3- + •H = NO2- + •OH

NO2- + •OH = •NO2 + OH-

H+ + OH- = H2O

•CH3 + •NO3 → CH3NO3 (Caution, per Wikipedia on Methyl nitrate, it is a toxic, volatile, and a sensitive HE, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_nitrate )

•CH3 + •NO2 → CH3NO2. (Caution, per Wikipedia on Methyl nitrite, it is a toxic asphyxiating gas and a potent cyanotic agent with exposure possibly resulting in methemoglobinemia, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_nitrite )
......

Also possible (but relative to methanol with UV light, to a lesser extent) is the photolysis of aqueous nitrates forming NO2 and with water nitrites, which are much more photo active than nitrate:

NO3- (aq) + hv → •OH + •NO2

Source: "Mechanism of Nitrite Formation by Nitrate Photolysis in Aqueous Solutions:  The Role of Peroxynitrite, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Hydroxyl Radical", by Sara Goldstein and Joseph Rabani, published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 129: , Issue. 34, 2007, Pages. 10597-10601. To quote from the first page:

"Photolysis of aqueous NO3- with λ ≥ 195 nm is known to induce the formation of NO2- and O2 as the only stable products. The mechanism of NO3- photolysis, however, is complex, and there is still uncertainty about the primary photoprocesses and subsequent reactions. This is, in part, due to photoisomerization of NO3- to ONOO- at λ < 280 nm, followed by the formation of •OH and •NO2 through the decomposition of ONOOH (pKa = 6.5−6.8)."

Link: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja073609+
------------------------------------

The interesting sell on this project is that green energy (sunlight) is employed to possibly create some endothermic/energetic compounds (like in explosive) to boost fuel performance.

Note: N2O, Laughing Gas, is sold in large stores (like Walmart) in the same fashion as CO2 cartridges.

Warning: Test in small quantities, toxic fumes along with potential explosion and burn danger as well as possible damage to engines. Take appropriate safety measures.

[Edited on 29-7-2018 by AJKOER]
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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 00:35


Another good idea would be to make heavy water. Cody made a very good series on this topic. Although it's a time consuming process and the quantity obtained may be very low, I'm pretty sure not many other students would try this idea. If you have enough time to do it, why not give it a try?
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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 09:59


Quote: Originally posted by Hendrik  
Another good idea would be to make heavy water. Cody made a very good series on this topic. Although it's a time consuming process and the quantity obtained may be very low, I'm pretty sure not many other students would try this idea. If you have enough time to do it, why not give it a try?


That would be a good one, although i dont have enough power. Cody uses a series of car batteries for his project amd I definitely dont have that much.
I think I will stick with "How can I extract piperine from peppercorns in a cost effective, easy and efficient way in a small lab." Still not the final layout of the question, but I am interested in finding the most efficient way one can extract piperine from peppercorns in a home lab for as little as possible. Efficiency counts, but cost matters more. Thanks vosoryx, and Im glad you got out of your mess.




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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 14:17


How far can you go with your science fair competition? When I was in high school, there was the usual school science fair project that you did for a grade, but then there was also the regional and state competitions.

After regional's, I got to go on a road trip with a bus full of other kids from my area, to the state competition. I ended up winning 1st place in my state's Junior Academy of Science competition, in my category.

I was probably the poorest kid in my category. All the other kids had fancy LCD projectors and expensive toys, and their projects involved some very pricey equipment. Me, on the other hand, I was there with an old Polaroid carrying case stuffed full of electronics that I had built from parts scavenged from broken radios. My presentation was on transparency films, no fancy LCD stuff and laptops for me.

I was presenting something that I had been working on before even thinking about doing a science fair, though. It was something that I really believed in and was enthusiastic about and that conveyed in the presentation. I knew everything about the topic, and could answer every follow-up question, and took every opportunity to expound further upon every answer that I gave.

I was honest about the limitations of my current research, but had a plan in place for future work once the competition was over. It was partly a report on my research, and partly a sales pitch, that if I won the cash award, this is how it would be spent, and how it would address limitations in current research.

The place that we went to is a very large university town. It has libraries, libraries, and overflow libraries. I spent almost all of my free time in these libraries. There were so many electronics and chemistry books from the 1800's and early 1900's. This kind of stuff cannot necessarily be found online. The ability to conduct this kind of research was more valuable to me than the competition itself.

Somehow I won first place, but someone else won the cash award, not sure how that worked...anyway, it was the thought that counted I guess. I was invited to go to nationals in DC, but I would not have been allowed to incorporate any further research into the presentation. In other words, I had to deliver the same report that I did at state. There would be no "winner" at nationals, it was essentially just everyone getting together, giving their presentations, dinner dancing, rubbing shoulders with "distinguished scientists", and other fluff.

I was all about the research, and didn't want to miss a week of school, so I decided not to go to nationals. Soon afterwards, I was walking in one direction in my school's courtyard, and my science teacher was walking the other direction on the other side, when she spotted me. You could hear her shrieks clear across the courtyard, and probably a good 10% of the school immediately knew that I was in trouble (She had a reputation, and a well-deserved nickname). It was a big school, but I was the only one that won 1st place in anything that year. She had been thinking that she was going to get to go to DC that year. Boy was she ________ (fill in the blank).

Anyway, one kid at the competition was some kind of boy mathematical genius, and presented a proof that solved some obscure problem. The problem was that he talked over everyone's heads. No one there knew what the heck he was talking about, including the judges. It's important to present at a level that your audience can understand.

Generally speaking, why are you doing research on ____? Who does it benefit? Who cares about it? What is different about what you're doing vs the way it's normally done? These question may be irrelevant if you're doing it simply because you enjoy it. In that case, try and make that enjoyment contagious.

Have fun man.




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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 15:55


I am looking for a more price reasonable way to produce Piperine from peppercorns while keeping efficiency in mind. Piperine has a number of very important uses. Probably the most important one is that it helps the body metabolise certain medicines better, meaning that when combined with certain medicines it can increase the effectiveness, in some cases make it so that less is needed (therefore making it cheaper) or it may help the patient better. There are obviously some negativities to this, but there often is in chemistry.
I mostly am doing this for my own enjoyment but I will try to do some good as well.
This will be my first strictly chemistry related project (a shame being my last year) but in the past have always focused on climate change (ocean acidification and effects of light absorbing ash from human and natural pollutants).




List of materials made by ScienceMadness.org users:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nmJ8uq-h4IkXPxD5svnT...
--------------------------------
Elements Collected: H, Li, B, C, N, O, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ag, I, Au, Pb, Bi, Am
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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 18:04


I am also going to be a senior next year and have made it to state science fair already three times (placing twice).

The most important features of your project should be statistical analysis (collect large amounts of data) and real world application.

If you u2u me your email I can send you a pdf of my project. That might help give you some ideas of what to do.

Science fair also has a lot of paper work involved. Be ready to have an MSDS for every chemical you use and be able to prove you used the correct safety equipment.




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Abromination
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[*] posted on 29-7-2018 at 20:35


Thank you all so much. I will definitely have to include MSDSs and evidence that I worked in my fumehood, etc.
I still have a few months (Dont actually know when it is yet) but thought I should start thinking about it now.




List of materials made by ScienceMadness.org users:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nmJ8uq-h4IkXPxD5svnT...
--------------------------------
Elements Collected: H, Li, B, C, N, O, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ag, I, Au, Pb, Bi, Am
Last Acquired: B
Next: Na
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[*] posted on 30-7-2018 at 12:09


@Abromination: Have you thought about doing a project involving extraction of essential oils and fragrances?

That's probably as cost effective as you can get, and you're still using chemistry. ;)

You could do a write up on the various plants and processes, and what's involved. Try to focus on the most natural processes you can find.
Hopefully, it can be done at home in the kitchen (where some of my favorite chemistry is done :) ).

Those essential oils can be added to candles, and that could grow into something greater than just a science fair project.

Who knows where something like that could go.

Just a thought.



[Edited on 30-7-2018 by MJ101]
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