Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Homework détente 3

A follow up to the thread, Homework plagiarism, Homework détente, Homework détente 2 and Open House.

Iris finished the satellite model and the first draft of the report last weekend with us riding herd, but not doing the project for her. At first, she wanted to make a satellite that would save our planet from global warming, a giant umbrella of some sort.

I could have just let her turn in her umbrella and world globe and let her be done with it, but I talked her out of it. As commentator Eric C. mentioned, it would have been better to ask Socratic questions. But she doesn't have any clue about the complexity and energy expenditure to put a giant umbrella in space. I told her that it had been suggested before and rejected as impractical.

Fortunately, she had seen Spy Kids 1-3 the weekend before that. (Don't ask why we let her watch so much TV that weekend.) The satellite section of the library was cleaned out, but the spy section contained 2 books (1 a gem) about spy satellites. She was hooked.

She started with a shoe box, but abandoned that for an IKEA desk organizer box with a lid. She found a little plastic snack box and some cardboard in the craft room and constructed a "camera". She covered it in foil while I covered the bigger box with foil. The foil represents solar photovotaic cells. I showed her how to create a hinge with clear package tape. She made the rest of the hinges.

With the globe, I showed her how the satellite has to store energy to operate in earth's shadow. She remembered the batteries in the clock she took apart last month and quickly ran downstairs for 2 AA batteries from our e-waste box. She taped them inside her spacecraft, with the battery ends touching a foil-covered part of the camera. (She was very proud that she observed and remembered that batteries need a metal contact.) She had both positive ends touching the camera and I showed her how batteries are usually alternated +/-. She made the change.

Mark printed out a 60's style space logo which she cut out and glued to the side. She told me that she could make a model of the plane that catches the film canisters that drop out the trap door of her satellite, but that would be showing off. No, she would not show off. She is done with her project.

Not so fast, she needs to rewrite the final draft in cursive.

Anyway, I periodically browse Trends in Japan; I like to look at the rampant creativity in the Street Style slide shows. Serendipitously, the top link on the main page goes to The Science of Origami. What should I see but a folded satellite antenna?

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Nojima Taketoshi)You pull opposite sides of the piece and the antenna blooms before your eyes, all while maintaining a steady center of gravity! Magical.

An artist's conception of the antenna in space.

1 comment:

  1. Very creative! There is a Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns plans a giant umbrella/disc in the sky to block the sun, but with an ulterior motive. Without the sun, the citizens of Springfield will have to rely on his power plant for all its energy.

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