Many superstitions can be the basis for science fair projects to help determine whether or not they are for real. I once heard that if you put an acorn on your window sill, it will keep the lightning out. This could be a science fair project if you have eight or ten years to do the experiment. Just put an acorn on each window sill in your house and see if it works. The origin of superstitions could be a science fair project in itself.
How in the world did anyone ever come up with putting acorns on a window sill to keep the lightning out. Perhaps there is some constituent in the acorn which will repel lightning. If this is true then the safest place in the world would be under an oak tree. Here's a winning science fair idea. If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of the fall, you will not catch a cold all winter long.
Tell this to several of your friends and ask them to try to catch a leaf. Then check to see if any of them caught a cold all winter. Now what in the world could be the origin of this one.
Perhaps if you are an outdoor person,which of course you would have to be to catch falling leaves, then you might be healthier than a person who stays indoors. We are told that outdoor people exercise more than indoor people, and perhaps this exercise and outdoor living will ward off colds. Try this for a winning science experiment. A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away. Ask family and friends to try it and find out if it works.
Where could this superstition have originated? Inasmuch as we have little control over our dreams and nightmares, I fail to see the basis for this one. You could do a winning project about Friday the 13th. Find out how many superstitions there are and try to determine if they are for real. Some of these superstitions could include the fact that most high rise buildings do not have a 13th floor; most airports do not have a Gate 13; hotels do not have room 13; most cities omit 13th street.
Part of the project might include the reasons why 13 is considered unlucky. Someone, somewhere may know the origin of unlucky 13. Perhaps it has something to do with a dozen, which of course is twelve, and an erroneous dozen could be thirteen.
This could be an exciting science experiment; to drop a fork means a man is coming to visit. Some of these superstitions might have been started by an event taking place and another event following. For example, some person may have dropped a fork while eating and within minutes, a man knocked on the door to visit. There was no cause-effect relationship between the two events, but the person who dropped the fork started the rumor that the dropping of the fork precipitated a man's visit. Here's a another project you can try.
If an eyelash falls out, put it on the back of your hand, make a wish and throw it over your shoulder. If it flies off your hand your wish will be granted. Here is another example of a person doing something which led to an event which may have had nothing to do with the original action. It is really a hard stretch to try to correlate the eyelash and the wish being granted.
There seems to be a lot of superstitions about wishes being granted. Blowing out birthday cake candles is supposed to lead to wishes being granted. In this case, it appears as if people will stretch their imaginations to get their wishes granted and will come up with all kinds of silly reasons to justify it. Another superstition project. Spit on a new bat for good luck. Try it.
Get your friends to try it, then check to see if it works. This superstition may have some reality as its basis. If you spit on the handle of the bat, it may become just a little sticky, and this stickiness may give you a better grip which will enable you to get more hits. Think about other superstitions that you've heard of.
Maybe there are some more good science fair experiments hiding among them.
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science fair projects with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them successfully compete in science fairs. Find fun, easy and award-winning science fair projects at www.terimore.com!