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Science Fair Project Ideas – Quick and Easy Project 4 – Light Intensity
One of the best science fair project ideas for students who are particularly interested in the science and math of light travel is the Joly Light Meter. This project allows students to use the inverse square law to measure light intensity. This may not be one of the best projects for lower grade students, as the project requires an understanding of some difficult math concepts.
To carry out this experiment, students will have to spend between $20 and $50. The project should take about a week, making this one of the most time-consuming science fair project ideas I’ve come across. Also, students might want to have a parent around to make sure the project goes ahead safely.
In this project, you will measure the light intensity of bulbs using your own hand-built light meter.
Through this project, you will learn that different light sources have different powers to project light into a room. Each bulb in your home may not have the same ability to emit light at the same distance. During this project, you will discover the basic differences between how light bulbs work. Additionally, you will build and use your own light meter.
Terms and concepts you need to know:
You’ll learn a lot more about these terms and concepts during your experience, but it’s a good idea to start with a basic knowledge of these:
- Inverse square law (you will learn a lot about this law!)
- Incandescent light bulbs (you may already have some in your home)
- Compact fluorescent bulbs
- Photometer (you will make your own)
Questions you will answer:
- What Makes Incandescent Light Bulbs Work?
- Why do incandescent bulbs die?
- What Makes Fluorescent Bulbs Work?
- Why do fluorescent bulbs die?
- Which bulb lasts the longest?
- Which bulb illuminates the most efficiently?
Materials you will need:
You shouldn’t have to shell out more than $50 for all of these materials, but you’ll probably find most of them already at home:
- A pound of paraffin wax
- A sharp knife
- Cardboard box (small)
- Identical luminaires
- Tape measure (not a ruler)
- Several types of bulbs
Follow these steps to pull off one of the best science fair project ideas for figuring out how light works differently with different bulbs:
- Cut a slice of wax in half. (Each box of wax should have four plates).
- Cut aluminum foil the same size as the slabs and place it between the 2 slabs.
- Create a cardboard box around the slabs. Use tape to hold it together.
- Make 3 windows in the sides of the cardboard box (one side will have no window). It’s your photometer.
- Place the right photometer between 2 lights at equal distances and equal heights. Make sure these fixtures are the only light sources in a room.
- With the bulbs on, move the light meter between the two bulbs until the wax has the same level of brightness on either side of the foil.
- To find the inverse square law, use the standard equation, found here.
- One of your bulbs should be your standard bulb. This bulb should be called I1. To find the intensity of the second light, be sure to divide the first light by the square of the distance and make it equal to the second light divided by the square of the distance so that the two lights are equidistant by the meter.
- Measure the distance between each bulb and your light meter (measure up to the leaf).
- Use the equation to calculate the intensity of each bulb.
- To find the efficiency of each bulb, divide the relative intensity by the wattage of the bulb.
Again, this is one of my favorite science fair project ideas for students who love math and physics. However, this can be difficult for students who don’t understand tricky equations very well. Science projects should be fun – so have fun doing this project!
If you’re ready to start your own science fair project on light intensity, your next step is to download a free copy of “Easy Steps to Award-Winning Science Fair Projects” from the link below right now.
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