Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas formed during combustion. When carbon monoxide is inhaled — even in tiny concentrations — it combines with the hemoglobin in the red blood cells to prevent the delivery of oxygen to the body. Considering we humans are all about getting oxygen, that's a problem.
Studying carbon monoxide requires some careful safety precautions, and always discuss your idea with a teacher before proceeding.
It's a good idea to have a parent or other adult supervise your work, to prevent any unforeseen mishaps. Do your research!
Questions and Techniques for Science Projects Studying Carbon Monoxide
Measure the carbon monoxide in different places with a detector, such as in your home, car, friend's home, room with a fireplace, etc. Chart how much carbon monoxide there is in each place. DON'T try to increase carbon monoxide levels (such as in a garage with a car's exhaust) to try to "enhance" your readings on the monitor, because the results could be dangerous.
When are carbon monoxide levels dangerous? What can be done about dangerous levels in a home? What government agencies are responsible for carbon monoxide cleanup?
How much carbon monoxide do automobiles produce? How does this contribute to air pollution? Are there ways the auto or gasoline industries are trying to stem the production of carbon monoxide in their products?
How successful have these efforts been?
What are the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning on the body? If a person is diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning, what medical treatment should they receive? If a person survives, how long is the recovery period? And, most importantly, what are the warning signs to look out for in a carbon monoxide poisoning situation?
Resources to Complete the Carbon Monoxide Science Fair Project
Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers
Resource information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality
All the basics about levels in the home.
Related Science Fair Project Resources
- Parents, How to Help Your Teen With Their Science Fair Project
- The Five Types of Science Fair Projects
Recommended Books for Science Fair Projects
365 Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials
"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
"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
"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
"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."