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Testing Memory

Science Fair Projects for Middle and High School


What could be more fun then testing your friend's and family's memory skills?

Psychologists divide memory into three stores: sensory store, short-term store, and long-term store. After entering the sensory store, some information proceeds into the short-term store. From there some information proceeds to the long term store. These stores are refered to as short term memory and long term memory respectively.

Short-term memory has two important characteristics. First, short-term memory can contain at any one time seven, plus or minus two, "chunks" of information. Second, items remain in short-term memory around twenty seconds.

Long-term memory is stored in our brains forever, according to most psychologists. We use recall to retrieve memories.

Since your experiment can not go on forever, I suggest you stick with short-term memory.

Project Ideas:

  1. Prove that people will remember more numbers if given the numbers in "chunks." You do this by giving them a list of one digit numbers first, see how many they can remember and record that. Then give a list of two digit numbers, etc.
  2. If you use words, rather than numbers, use all nouns, so that the person you are testing can not make a sentence out of the words you have given. Most people have learned to "chunk" things together.
  3. Test gender differences. Do males remember more or less than females?
  4. Test the language factor. What do people remember better: numbers, words or a series of colors?

Link Resources to Complete the Science Fair Project

  1. Short Term Memory Test - Pictures
  2. Penny Memory Test
  3. Deja vu - What is it?
  4. An Overview of Memory

Related Science Fair Project Resources

Quick Links: Science Fair Projects Ideas Index | High School Homework Help | High School Survival Guide

About These Science Fair Projects:

The science projects located here on the Parenting of Teens site at About.com are ideas developed by its Guide, Denise D. Witmer. Some are projects completed during her years of working with high school students, researched projects and others are original ideas. Please use these science fair ideas as a guide to help your teen complete a science project to the best of their ability. In your role as a facilitator, you should feel free to share this project with them, but not to do the project for them. Please do not copy these project ideas to your website or blog, post the link if you wish to share it.

Recommended Books for Science Fair Projects:

365 Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials
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"The fundamentals of science are brought to life in a year's worth of fun and educational hands-on experiments that can be performed easily and inexpensively at home." People who have purchased this book have called it easy to understand and great for the student who needs a project but they aren't really interested in the sciences. The book is for both young and older students.

The Scientific American Book of Great Science Fair Projects
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"From creating your own non-newtonian fluids (slime, putty, and goop!) to teaching a sow bug how to run through a maze, you'll be astounded at the number of incredible things you can do with Scientific American Great Science Fair Projects. Based on the long-standing and well-respected "Amateur Scientist" column in Scientific American, each experiment can be done with ordinary materials found around the house or that are easily available at low cost."

Strategies for Winning Science Fair Projects
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"Written by a science fair judge and an international science fair winner, this must-have resource is packed with strategies and pointers for putting together a winning science fair project. Here you'll get the nitty-gritty on a wide variety of topics, from the fundamentals of the science fair process to the last-minute details of polishing your presentation."

The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists
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"Introducing 64 valuable science experiments that snap, crackle, pop, ooze, crash, boom, and stink! From Marshmallows on Steroids to Home-Made Lightning, the Sandwich Bag Bomb to Giant Air Cannon, The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science awakens kids' curiosity while demonstrating scientific principles like osmosis, air pressure, and Newton's Third Law of Motion."

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