Informal space science education thread

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Postby Boomerang » Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:57 am

Another materials science demo that can be fun is silly putty. It has some intresting properties. Rolled into a ball it will bounce hit hard with a hammer it will bounce just like rubber. But if you push down on it slowly with the same hammer applying slow even pressure it flattens out like most people would expect it to. this was another demo i did that summer.

Also artificial snow can be fun like the diaper stuff its a super absorbant polimer keep adding water to the powder it will keep growing more and more
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Postby Boomerang » Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:51 am

And if you want expirements to give kids an idea of what kind of stuff astronauts idea there are lots of good resources on the web for those kinds of easy science expirements for kids including NASA. Also if you have never seen the NASA SCI files or NASA /connect depending on the age group you are talking about they were two television programs produced by NASA Langley till funding was cut for them this past year. Both are excellant shows for getting kids involved in science qand are designed to be age apropriate. Check with your closest NASA Educator Resource center or CORE for nore information. Each program also has a program guide with student activities. Most of the ERC's will copy episodes for you if you send them the tapes at no charge and CORE sells them.

Also check the loal library i may be showing my age here but i recall there were a few Mr. Wizard books put out with scientific expirements for kids in them that were easy to do.
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Postby SpaceCanada » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:48 am

I think many of those episodes are available online! I have seen a bunch of them.

Also, NASAExplores is another of my favourite websites for activities tied to spaceflight.

We made silly putty at ASA in 1998. There were three formulae with different ingredients and different properties. Basically, materials science, but heaps fun.
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Postby Boomerang » Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:08 am

Three summers ago our museum had a whole traveling exhibit in materials sciences i spent most of the summer doing the science demo that was part of the exhibit. besides the silly putty and super absorbant polimers we also did an aero gel demo which was alot of fun but the stuff is very expensive to get a hold of. Amazing stuff its the worls lightest solid material yet makes a great ibnsulator infact the stardust mission used it in the collector used to collect comet tail particles. You could put your hand touching one side and a butane torch to the other side and not feel the heat we also did a semo to prove it by putting a baloon on one side and the butane torch to the other side then moving them up till the baloon popped when it was no loger protected by the aerogel. Grest stuff if you can afford it but i believe i was told the 6 inch by i believe it was about 3.5 inch by 1 ibnch thick block we were using wqas several hundred dollars each.

We also had a hydraulic crusher that was a lot of fun to play with to demonstrate destructive testing. In the course of that summer i crushed cans, concrete, brick, wood, lead fishing weights a few coins, and pvc pipe. Believe it or not the pvc pipe was the most fun one to do because when it was put under pressure it shattered explosively. Ofcourse this was all done inside a protective transparent cabinet but it was a very fun summer.
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Postby des » Sat Mar 17, 2007 10:35 pm

Oh Aerogel!!
This friend of mine went to a JPL education workshop and got to hold it. She was definitely thrilled, and has all sorts of pix of it. It is very expenisve, and rather easily to hurt. I think a tiny little square of it is $35. It was used, among other times, maybe, to capture trajectories and bits of comet dust in the Stardust mission thru a comet tail.

The favorite activity in the Space Exploration program was this simulation. I showed them internet footage, etc. and then we "captured" Nerds (the candy) in plain gelatin. You can imagine any activity involving blowing candy into something would be a hit, and it was.


BTW, the camp only has two kids signed up so far but I don't know how unusual that is for March.


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Postby SpaceCanada » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:26 am

Our camps tend to fill up after Spring Break, which is still a week away here.

Shooting nerds into (agar) jelly would definitely be a hit with kids! You can eat it afterwards too!
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Postby des » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:30 pm

The director just admitted it wasn't that odd. He expected it to fill faster, but then again the kids have to commit to a longer session. New Mexicans are about the worst procrastinators on earth anyway. Our spring break happens in another week, so I htink that that is a good reason, summer doesn't quite seem that real. :-) He's still sending out catalogs.

Well shooting nerds into gelatin (I don't think its' actually agar, but similar-it's Jell-o without sugar or flavor) is really fun. But I wouldn't call it exactly tasty. Several of the kids insisted on eating it, which I said was ok, but don't expect much. Maybe one kid liked the taste. The gelatin itself has no taste so the candy doesn't quite cover that up. Most kids preferred the "rule" that if a piece was too big or small for the straw they had to eat it. :-) Everybody was happy to have their own little pack of Nerds. (In some ways kids seem so much more worldly and so forth than I ever was, but then as I write that it seems like just the sort of thing I would have liked. :-)) NASA website suggests ball bearings, blah (though they might work better).


BTW, has anyone gotten a shuttle tile? Someone gave me Louis Parker's no. at NASA and supposedly you have to swear on Bibles that you will do "scientific investigations" and so on, but they will give you one. There is no way to buy this. And I understand a few years ago someone was caught selling some on ebay and got in big trouble.

--des

SpaceCanada wrote:Our camps tend to fill up after Spring Break, which is still a week away here.

Shooting nerds into (agar) jelly would definitely be a hit with kids! You can eat it afterwards too!
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Postby SpaceCanada » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:09 pm

My brother bought one at KSC ages ago, but it was only a tiny one, not big enough for demonstrations or anything. I wouldn't know how to get one of those.

Yes, plain jelly (gelatin/agar) is gross. I'm vegetarian, so we use agar because it is animal-friendly. If you make it with juice instead of water it actually tastes good.
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Postby Boomerang » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:36 pm

We arent even registering fr sumer yet we also have spring break camps at our museum. Unfortunately kids spring breaks and college spring breaks dont coincide here so i cant work those camps.
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Postby des » Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:41 pm

I also have a teeny shuttle tile segment. It is just a piece and not big enough for anything. I was quite disappointed. (I bought several other things and was disappointed in these as well.)

Yes, agar/gelatin taste good mixed with juice as it is natural jello, but the consistency of this really matters in the experiment. It has to be firm enough to to be quite solid and yet not so firm that the candies bounce off the top. I wouldn't want to mess with it in trying to make it edible. I'm not sure how well agar would work. You would have to experiment with it.
(I also don't know if you have "Nerds"-- but for a few $ I could probably mail you some if you wanted to try this.)

As for not having kids sign up for summer yet, makes sense. They produce a very slick publication. For a less slick publication and release after spring break they could, imo, attract more teachers. This is a problem they have as teachers have to commit the next year in like about November. Not too many people want to commit that early.

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Postby Boomerang » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:01 am

You also might want totry looking for Buran heat tiles off the Russian shuttle they pop up on ebay from time to time. Same stuff just a diffrent shuttle plus its a piece of russian space program memorabelia
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Postby SpaceCanada » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:43 am

Yes, we have Nerds up here, and a thousand other sweets. I will definitely try this with some kids this summer or next.

Did they disassemble the Buran or is it still on display someplace? I guess extra tiles could be floating around, but I haven't heard of them. Interesting!
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Postby Boomerang » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:59 am

Actually they built 3 Burans. /the one that flew today sits in Gorky park in Moscow quickly deteriorating. The other 2 were pretty much destroyed when the hanger colapsed then a fire a few years ago but like our own shuttle extra tiles were made Buran only flew once but it was intended to become a regular space launch vehicle so they were planning for future flights when there economy and a good chunk of their space program colapsed
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Postby des » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:01 pm

Welll of course a shuttle tile would be free (provided you sign your life away on it that you are doing actual research). I'm not sure how much you'd pay for a Buran tile.

If you want to do the gelatin/Nerds simulation here is the website about Stardust. http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html
There are pix of the mission, explanations, the kids were really interested in the aerogel so if you could get a little that would be great.
I will also look up the recipe for the gelatin, but if you use agar or gelatin sheets or something you'll need to experiment.
You take a straw and put a pushpin about an inch away from the mouth (all the way thru), this keeps you from inhaling the Nerd. You take clear hard plastic cups and fill with the gelatin/agar mix (you do this the night before). I make one for everybody with a few spares. I put Nerds in snack plastic bags. They also make little boxes and one year I did that. You also can use a spray water bottle, as spraying the surface helps to get the little buggers in the gelatin. Your goal is to blow the Nerd into the gelatin/agar at an angle and get the Nerd to look like some of the trajectories of the pix you see above! They really do. If you can't get the Nerd to "hold" the trajectory, the stuff is too runny. If you can't after 10 times or so get a Nerd into the stuff, either you have no lung power or the stuff is too dense and not watery enough. Another thing to tell them is that Aerogel is 99% air and this stuff is 99% water. BTW, I am very strict. No goofing around. We all wear safety goggles, and do a blast off type blow all together. I wouldn't do this with kids under 4th grade (10-11 or so).


--des
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Postby Sandrat » Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:34 am

Actually KSC used to have an "Unused property list" that you could access that had shuttle tiles on it. No research or anything was mandated, but you had to account for the tile (I think) annually. Check the KSC webpage - I'll see if I can find the information sheet on the program I got at the Return To Flight Conference in 2004.
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Postby des » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:00 pm

I'm bumping this one up for the benefit of an educator or two now on the forum.

We are having a pretty good summer. "Aerogel" didn't work so well, as I think that I goofed on the formula somehow. Drats! I also tried the dry ice comet and that didn't work either. There were holes in the bag so I lost the water. It looks a little like a kitty litter box.

I'm still building my underwater structure. I goofed up getting 6 PVC caps instead of 12. Doh! I am also doing a bolt board which the kids will assemble underwater with a "neutrally bouyant" wrench (suspended by a 2 liter bottle and string). I have no idea how this will work. SpaceCanada gave me the directions for the PVC structure. It was fun hearing her convert all her metrics to body parts (I'll refrain from jokes about 6 inches. teehee-- no that came from me not her).


--des
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Postby rkolker » Fri Jun 29, 2007 6:53 am

des wrote: "neutrally bouyant" wrench s


Hmm, how would I do this? I might have to spend some time with some foam and a wrench (and some duct tape) in a pool this summer. I'm thinking the stuff they use to make buoyant "noodles". Maybe make it slightly positive, and then duct tape fishing weights to it until you reach neutral. What kind of wrenches are you using? Open end?
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Postby des » Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:25 am

Rich, you most likely have MANY more technical/engineering skills than I have (I have zero!). So basically things like this I do, I just follow some idea someone else has (unlike the Mars expedition, which was much more my idea). In the directions I read you take a light wrench (the directions recommend chrome/steel), attach to a string and then attach the string to a 2 liter soda bottle. I don't actually think it is *really* neutrally buoyant, but it sort of simulates neutral buoyancy so that the wrench will in some way float mid water. Perhaps that might suit your purposes though?

However, I think your ideas sound right perhaps. I know that for floating things, NASA and SCUBA divers use weights. So what it sounds like you are suggesting is making a wrench a floating thing first? Perhaps you only need enough foam so that it slightly floats and wouldn't need the weights? (Not sure how much sense I am making.) The downside is that it is going to be hard to put that material on a wrench and still have it useable-- perhaps a longer wrench?

I am not sure what the term "open ended" for a wrench looks, but think about the kind of wrench a non-mechanical person would have around (though I suppose for a non-mechanical person I have an impressive collection), for tightening a bolt, opening a jar, etc.

Anyway all said, I have no idea how this little activity would work. This was on the same webpage (???) that some other fun things were on like putting a marshmallow man in a bell jar and cranking up the pressure. I don't have any way of testing it either, but I just tell the kids that sometimes NASA does stuff that doesn't work as well! :-)

What are you doing in the pool, Rich? It sounds like an experiment of some sort.


--des

rkolker wrote:
des wrote: "neutrally bouyant" wrench s


Hmm, how would I do this? I might have to spend some time with some foam and a wrench (and some duct tape) in a pool this summer. I'm thinking the stuff they use to make buoyant "noodles". Maybe make it slightly positive, and then duct tape fishing weights to it until you reach neutral. What kind of wrenches are you using? Open end?
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Postby rkolker » Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:46 am

Des,

You pretty much have what I'm thinking. Take a wrench, make it just float using some kind of foam and then use very small weights (and duct tape) until it's neutral.

Don't wait for me to do this. I probably will some time this summer (my mom has a pool), but no guarantees of when.

One thing about buoyancy, it is dependent on depth, so making something neutrally buoyant is making it neutrally buoyant for how deep you're going to be. For example, in scuba, you need to adjust your buoyonacy vest as you surface if you're going to rise under control. So, if the kids are going to be five feet under, experiment with your wrenches at five feet.

I'll let you know when I try this.
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Postby des » Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:40 am

Rich, duct tape is pretty essential regardless! OTOH, I won't have any time to wait for your experiments (wish I could!) as I pretty much have to do this in the next 2-3 weeks. (I have two sessions.)

The thing about the simulated neutral buoyancy is that it doesn't matter about the depth. It could work in 4 feet of water or 20 given a long or short enough string. So given I have NO time to experiment with it, we'll use the string/liter bottle. Of course, we're still experimenting but I know how to do this, have the wrench, string, and 2 liter bottle. But how workable this is, and so on, I'll let people know here. In any case, it will be a novel kind of experience for the kids (and me). I have found the kids pretty forgiving of my mistakes as long as I don't promise anything.

I got the board and will probably take some weights (big bolts maybe) to make it easier to sink, but I'll have someone hold it straight. I'm making a bolt board with a series of bolts that have to be done correctly (perhaps left to right). They will only work one way as they will be different sizes. This would simulate working on the side of a module, say. I have yet to figure out a really good way for them to hold them as the explanation didn't go into that. Unlike zero G, the bolts will just sink if lost. (perhaps a magnetic board of some kind, a baggie, a tool pouch, or a bowl on the surface, etc. ) I think that with the small size of the bolts it will be pretty challenging. If the kids are really fast at this they can try it with gloves on. SpaceCanada suggested color coding but I settled on size, as it is cheaper to do. I have spent $$ on this whole session!

I am sure interested in your experiments so I'd love to hear. And I'll let you all know how this went.

--des



rkolker wrote:Des,

You pretty much have what I'm thinking. Take a wrench, make it just float using some kind of foam and then use very small weights (and duct tape) until it's neutral.

Don't wait for me to do this. I probably will some time this summer (my mom has a pool), but no guarantees of when.

One thing about buoyancy, it is dependent on depth, so making something neutrally buoyant is making it neutrally buoyant for how deep you're going to be. For example, in scuba, you need to adjust your buoyonacy vest as you surface if you're going to rise under control. So, if the kids are going to be five feet under, experiment with your wrenches at five feet.

I'll let you know when I try this.

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