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Enroute Bitterroot

Space Camp and Design Challenges

Jessica Anderson

Ablative Shield

Have you ever contemplated blasting a raw egg with a blow torch for 5 minutes and seeing what happens? If yes, this challenge is for you! The Ablative Shield activity focuses on designing a protection mechanism to keep an astronaut from burning when re-entering into the Earth's atmosphere.

We were given many supply options, but our team chose four materials: (a) felt, (b) aluminum mesh, (c) spackle, and (d) steel wool.  We layered the materials in the same order as listed with the steel wool at the forefront of the flame. As we entered the challenge we were nervous about the results, but excited to see if we'd succeed. In the end, our egg went from 78 degrees F to 114 degrees F in 5 minutes. To put these numbers into perspective, one team's egg ended up reaching 370 degrees and was cooked. In the end, our egg survived! We were really proud of our design and teamwork!

If anyone wants me to come do this with their students next year let me know. It was a blast!

Rock Wall

I've always wanted to attempt rock climbing. However, I've never been in a place where the opportunity was available. Today was the end of the wait. Although it didn't look incredibly difficult, I think I need more instruction. I got about a 1/4 of the way up, but didn't have the skill to figure out where to place my hands or feet or the strength to wait to figure it out. In the end, I did a terrible dismount and got a nasty bruise on the side of my bum-bum. Oops! 

G-Force Accelerator

I remember happily riding the G-Force when I was younger at the Billings, MT Fairgrounds. However, that was 20+ years ago. When given the chance to ride it again, I said of course. My memories of the ride were similar to the first time I rode with my Dad, great! However, I found myself experiencing the science behind the ride instead of just recognizing the excitement of trying something new. One of the benefits, or not, is the ride gives you an instant facelift. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. If only I could fund one of these machines on Donorschoose.org. 

Design Challenges

One of the things I learned years ago is that design challenges are engaging, motivating, and inquiry-based (make for great critical thinking activities). The experience at Space Camp has reaffirmed that I need to continue to promote the use of design challenges in the classroom. 

I can't believe my trip is almost over. One day left...