The Charger Rocket works team stayed busy over the winter holidays. In addition to flying our sub-scale rocket and working on our CDR, we assisted with Cub Scout STEAM Camp Space and Robotics Days. For Space Day, we started with a discussion of how rockets work and their important parts, then assembled model rockets to launch the next afternoon. Afterwards, the campers built model space habitats out of Lego. They included necessary features such as rovers, living spaces, and waste disposal as well as facilities to recreate some of the creature comforts here on Earth.
Next, the campers discussed space suits and what astronauts need to survive outside of a ship or habitat. They then designed their own suits out of cardboard, plastic bags, and other recycled materials.
After the space suit fashion show, it was time to launch the rockets built earlier in the day. Most had a successful flight, but there were a few that failed to properly deploy their recovery systems.
For team member and Eagle Scout Nathanial L., it was a great chance to give back to an organization he owes so much to. “As a Scout, I learned a great deal about becoming a responsible, committed individual. These character traits are essential to being a good engineer, and I hope to inspire and teach future engineers through Scouting,” he says. At the beginning of the day, it was shared how many astronauts were Scouts. The skills learned in Scouting are similar to those needed by astronauts.
For Robotics Day, the campers programmed and played with different types of robots. Each type of robot had a few tasks it did well. The campers also discussed robots from video clips and articles, and shared what kind of robots they would design. They built scribble bots out of motors and batteries to take home.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s AIAA section has been working with a local elementary-middle school, Holy Family School, to show the students about STEM fields. They meet with the students about once a quarter to cover information they learned in their science class and prepare for the next section.
This month the AIAA section prepared something different for the students in grades 2 through 4. They decided to cover what different engineers do and provide them with a hands-on experience for each engineering field. Living in Rocket City (Huntsville, Alabama’s coined nickname), many children have parents as engineers so they know of engineering, but they may not always know what each different engineering does.
The four engineering fields that were covered during this session were Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.
When the students were learning about Mechanical Engineering, they were asked what they thought Mechanical Engineers did. The idea is that they would list examples of things that move, like cars and trains, but then we would also tell them that Mechanical Engineers also work on refrigerators or air conditioning. The students then had to work in a team of two or three to build a car made of Lego pieces.
After constructing their car, the groups were able to choose their set of wheels and race down a track. After the race, the students were asked about why maybe one car went faster or further than another. The idea was that a heavier car might make it down the ramp faster but may not go as far, but a lighter car may take a second longer to make it down, but might go further.
As the students were learning about Aerospace Engineering, they were asked what they thought those engineers did. The students listed things such as spaceships and satellites, but then we would also mention airplanes if the students didn’t list it. The students then built their own paper airplanes. They did two runs; the first consisted of them constructing their own plane and the second they were able to follow a diagram. After each construction, the students went out into the hallway and had a friendly competition of whose plane could go further.
They did two runs; the first consisted of them constructing their own plane and the second they were able to follow a diagram. After each construction, the students went out into the hallway and had a friendly competition of whose plane could go further. Sometimes the planes ended up on the runway (the floor), but every once in a while they would get lost in the clouds (the ceiling).
When asked what do Electrical Engineers do, the answers ranged from lights and power to radios and televisions. The students were then able to work with an electric wire maze. Typically these are constructed with a buzzer to indicate when the wire has been touched, but in this case an LED would light up.
As the students were trying to complete the maze successfully, they learned briefly about how circuits work and why the LED lights up when the wires touch.
Last, the students learned about Chemical Engineering. When they were asked what Chemical Engineers do, they answered with work with chemicals. It was then explained that while working with chemicals, the engineers help to make sure that the things we put in our bodies are not going to harm us. The students were than able to observe dry ice bubbles being made. This was done through putting a small piece of dry ice in water, then the smoke went through a tube connected to a funnel. The funnel was then dipped into a plate of soap.
The students were not allows to touch the dry ice or the mixture, but they were allowed to pop the bubble. The students also were able to see how big the bubble could get before it popped on its own.
The students loved the hands-on part of the learning because it they got to have a basic idea of what it would be like to possibly be one of these engineers. The CRW team wants to give a big thank you to the UAH AIAA section for letting us participate in this awesome program they put together!
The Charger Rocket Works team worked with the UAH Propulsion Research Center to help girls ages 8 to 12 construct their own rockets. The girls were separated into groups of 5 and had to work together (with the assistance of a volunteer as needed) to construct their rocket. Prior to building, the girls were shown a short video about rocketry and were able to ask questions about rockets before breaking off into their groups.
After the girls constructed their rockets, they were able to see them be launched by the assistance of the PRC staff.
The girls were informed about the safety of having a clear zone before the rocket motors were able to be ignited. The motors were only handled by the PRC staff, but the girls were shown the motors to have a complete understanding of their rocket. Before the rockets were launched, the girls made sure the area was all-clear and got to yell, “Clear area!” They then counted down the launch and watched their rockets fly high into the air!