I am in highschool and have a science fair right around the corner. I think that I would like to do it on the Prius. Any comments as to how I should go about this and good things to use and talk about in it?
I think it's a great idea, with lots of possible angles to choose from. You can do something on the economic impact of reducing oil consumption and imports based on a scale on the percentage of fuel saved per vehicle if we were all to go hybrid or a certain percentage went hybrid.
You could show the environmental impact of reduced emissions based on widespread use of hybrid vehicles.
Or there are a plethora of things you could choose to discuss from a technological stand point. The Sun gear and planetary gear system is an amazing feature and you could build a working model yourself with wood that would be pretty impressive. Talking about the electronics or emissions control system. The Atkins cycle engine too.
I think you should decide what aspects of the hybrids inspire you and use that as your motivation and come up with a plan of what you want to tell your audience. Me, I'd go with the working model of the planetary gear system, I always like touchy feely stuff with the tech stuff to support it. Stats are boring, but you might be able to construct some kind of model to show the impact visually (think smoke in 1 box with non-hybrids and no smoke in another with hybrids...?)
It's a modified engine where the compression stroke and expansion stroke are different--other things too. In short for a small loss in power you get a dramatic improvement in reducing emissions. There are multiple mechanisms on the new Prius that help reduce emissions.
There's a great section at the http://www.Toyota.com/prius site. If you can't find it let me know and I'll forward the URL when I'm at home. You'll find LOTS of great info there, and elsewhere, about the technical side of the prius. I encourage you to confirm your findings here or elsewhere b/c a LOT of people get confused over minor points, and if you find a judge that knows his stuff you'll get fried over the little stuff.
I personally found the Mapquest banner showing how much gas would have been saved by all users planning routes pretty interesting. I don't know if they're still displaying it but it would increment the number of gallons saved if all routes planned using Mapquest were driven by Prius owners.
A Prius-based Fair project is a 'non-experimental' type. That's OK. The point of Science Fair is to encourage you to develop your scientific skills.
With that in mind, I'd recommend that instead of asking people what you should do (which is kind of like trolling for other peoples ideas), you should use Google and your library to educate yourself about how the Prius as a hybrid really works. For example, don't ask someone to tell you what the Atkins cycle is--dig in and find out for yourself. Use this as an opportunity to improve your research skills. What does it do that is worthwhile? Why does that matter? How exactly does it do that? What are the trade-offs and engineering issues?
If doing well in the competition is what matters to you, remember that you won't get far in the jury process if you don't really understand what you're presenting.
One of the great benefits of learning enough to teach a subject (which you must do to the jury in defending your project) is that you are forced to get yourself to understand it well enough to explain it clearly. A higher level of knowledge, worth the effort.
If you do this, it doesn't really matter if your project looks pretty or not. You will have improved your own abilities in a way that will help you do better in future science classes.