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Old 11-12-2012, 11:44 PM   #1
chambersc OP
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12 year olds science project

So the step son (to be) comes to me tonight about help with his science fair project. No idea what he wants to do, but he loves motorcycles since he and I started riding together. His father (great guy, no bashing here) is not mechanical and isnt much help. Mom, a cardiac specialist, isn't much into it either. Luckily for him she's marrying a guy who routinely has grease under his fingernails and a motorcycle project in various states of build at all times who started riding at 8 years old.

So the plan: how a motorcycle carburetor works. Complete with a cutaway carburetor. Not sure what old carbs I've got lying aorund, but I know enough of my motorcycle buddies will have some they dont need. Be nice to use a CV carb, but even an old slide one will do the trick. Going to cut it in half on the bandsaw as cleanly as possible, smooth out the edges with the file, paint the bowl side red for fuel, blue for air, maybe green for vacuum, etc and explain all of the circuits and what they do. I have a feeling he is sound asleep right now. But me, no, I've been awake the last two hours thinking about it. In fact, when this is all finished its going to get hung on my shop wall. I LOVE cutaway mechanical shit, and it will be even cooler when the 12 year old does it for his science fair.

No real question, just a statement and me blowing off some steam. I'm ready to start dissecting!
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:09 AM   #2
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Yeah, I like cutaway mechanical stuff, too, but when dads take over the kid's projects, the goal is to win.
Exploding something is great, splashes and smells are impressive, too. How about a perpetual motion hoax? Unless you have a real one, then my hat's off to you, sir.
Hey, bikes, kid, dad, what fun.
This is like the pinewood derby where you know those kids didn't make those things. Even the inclusion of a strobe light will increase your chances of winning.
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:19 AM   #3
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You have my word his hands will be dirty on this one. I was always the kid who made my own pinewood car and got whooped, but I did it. Might have to limit his bandsaw usage but he will certainly be handling all of the filing, painting, mounting, etc of it and the explanation to the judges is all his, so he had better know what he is talking about.
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:32 AM   #4
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C'mon, the W is what it's all about. How about a wheelie video with a teeter-totter demo?
Motion wins out, even the judges have ADHD.
The carb cutaway would be epic on the garage wall, however.
We're going to require some pics of that.
Play to your crowd, show traction with forward/reverse knobby patterns, show how the mud splashes differently. Everybody wants to get some on them. Pics mandatory.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by willis 2000 View Post
How about a perpetual motion hoax? Unless you have a real one, then my hat's off to you, sir..
Hoax? No need for that....just have him take your wallet to school. I know the money in mine never stops being removed to spend on more ADV gear.

Sounds like a great project that you two will be able to remember for a long time.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:16 AM   #6
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Sounds like you.. I mean he ...has alot of work ahead. Let him think.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:48 AM   #7
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A cutaway is a cool idea, but having taught Industrial Technology in Middle School for 5 years I would say that what you want to do is more suitable for the 15-17 year old age range. If you want to do a carburetor project, use a simple carb like a tecumseh lawnmower carb:


and just have him take it apart and then you both can epoxy the pieces to a board and he can make up labels for what each piece does. If you want to make a killer app for this, come up with a small clear plastic box and figure out how to put an old perfume atomizer that the two of you find at a goodwill store in it with the squeeze bulb on the outside of the box and put colored water in it, so people can squeeze the bulb and see the water magically rise in the tube.

Even what I just suggested would be a lot of work for a 12 year old, but doable and he will learn a bit more himself this way too.
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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So I ended up with a much nicer and higher end carb than I planned on. Stopped in at my buddy's shop, and he hands me a late model CV carb he had lying around. Damned near perfect shape. Seems a shame to cut it up but it was for one of those cheap Chinese scooter and the air cut off was bad. Couldn't get the part so the customer opted to replace the whole carb.

Anyway, as much as I agree that the mower carb would probably be better, we're going to go with this.

On an unrelated note, damned guy had a pretty nice 1984 Yamaha FJ1100 sitting in the shop he had just picked up from someone needing cash now. One of my favorite bikes. 27k miles, 4 into 1 V&H pipe, etc and runs like a champ. Leaking fork seal and a broken front fender. Told me he would take $1500. Thank god I didn't have the cash or I would have been bringing home a CV carb AND an FJ1100.

Someone needs to buy that thing and get it out of my sight.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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Maybe you could loan out your project to the rest us so we can learn how a carb works
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:04 AM   #10
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From the teacher's perspective

Yeah, $0.02 here but something to consider.

Great idea for getting bonding and learning for both of you.

Depending on the judges and the level of the science fair, I'll say up front that unless a hypothesis is being "tested", judges won't be impressed regardless of how well done the project or how much he knows about the function. BTDT

By testing, I mean how has a question about carburetors been thought thorugh and a variable introduced that can be analyzed, documented and reported. I took a Sr to MN State Sci Fair one year with an engine project, mostly related to fuels in a small engine (my old lawnmower eventually became a donor). While he did well in his category, I was stunned by many of the entries. Stunned at the "corporate sponsorship" involved, too.

Do the "process" while having a good time and you will both get great rewards. The process is what wows judges.

BTW, have you considered the similarities between carburetoors and hearts? This can get mom into the process, too.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:45 AM   #11
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Maybe why the motorcycle doesn't fall down when the wheels are turning instead? Exception would be "lay 'er down moves.
Replicate a m/c wheel and prove gyroscopic effects?
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:14 PM   #12
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Maybe something a little easier. I still don't know how a carb works. There is a little squirt gun, mini toilet bowl float, some sewing neddles, funny looking screws with holes in them.

Maybe jsut general internal combustion engine. Four stroke vs 2 stroke.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:50 PM   #13
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I've got it!

It seems to me the OP is going with the carb cutaway project, but a theory needs to be tested right? So how can they test gasoline vs. ethanol ("renewable" fuels) to see which is more efficient?

Theory: ethanol fuel contains less BTU's than gasoline by volume.

Test: show both fuels burning on a wick heating a metal bowl of water, with a thermometer in the water. The cutaway carb could be part of the display, along with an ear of corn, and a soup can painted like a barrel of crude oil.

Pros:
1. Flame is like flashing lights, and will get lots of attention.

Cons:
1. You would need to show the flow rate was the same for both fuels. Maybe Mom can come up with intravenous drip stuff for this part?
2. Would the school allow flame? If the answer is no, this whole idea is shot.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:17 PM   #14
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12 year old!!!
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreaseMonkey View Post
A cutaway is a cool idea, but having taught Industrial Technology in Middle School for 5 years I would say that what you want to do is more suitable for the 15-17 year old age range. If you want to do a carburetor project, use a simple carb like a tecumseh lawnmower carb:


and just have him take it apart and then you both can epoxy the pieces to a board and he can make up labels for what each piece does. If you want to make a killer app for this, come up with a small clear plastic box and figure out how to put an old perfume atomizer that the two of you find at a goodwill store in it with the squeeze bulb on the outside of the box and put colored water in it, so people can squeeze the bulb and see the water magically rise in the tube.

Even what I just suggested would be a lot of work for a 12 year old, but doable and he will learn a bit more himself this way too.
Great advice. I have judged a lot of these and you can always tell which projects are done by the kids and which are done by the adults for the kids....
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