Category Archives: STEM

It’s Pi Day Again

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It is time to celebrate once again that incredible number Pi or 3.14159… I had a post that included some of the history last year. Take a few moments today and participate in the 29th annual celebration of Pi!

This is a great opportunity to introduce kids to Pi. They learn a little history, learn some math and it can be capped with a nice slice of yummy pie.

As I suggested last year, try these methods of celebration.

  1. One of the easiest and most fun is to simply eat pie!
  2. Wear or display the Pi symbol
  3. Plan your recognition event for 1:59 PM (i.e. 3.14159)

And of course mark your calendars for next year so you can plan something in advance.

Popular Engineering Related Channels on YouTube

EWeek – With this being the first day of Engineers Week 2017 I thought that these videos and YouTube channels might be of interest.

  1. Grant Thompson’s YouTube channel “The King of Random” includes videos with a range of experiments and DIY projects. Some recent titles are : “Making Homemade Missiles That Explode“, “Is It a Good Idea to Make Party Poppers With Hydrogen?” and “Making Glass Vacuum Chambers Implode“.
  2. Bill Hammack’s YouTube channel “engineerguy” where the University of Illinois Chemical Engineering professor gives “the engineering details of all the stuff you wanna know about“. From his web site: Make called Bill a “brilliant science-and-technology documentarian”, whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually” Wired called them “dazzling.” Scientific American’s blog called him a “smart, easygoing everyman with a firm understanding of the science.”
  3. Jason Fenske’s YouTube channel “Engineering Explained” has a more narrow focus on the subject of “How Cars Work”.
  4. The YouTube channel “Cody’s Lab” includes various experiments and adventures, most science or engineering related.
  5. NASA’s “NASA Goddard” YouTube Channel features views of various NASA technology. Expect to see the latest in NASA’s research into planetary science, astrophysics, Earth observing, and solar science on the channel.
  6. The YouTube channel “SciShow Space“, as the name implies, focuses on space exploration. The hosts, Hank Green, Caitlin Hofmeister, and Reid Reimers, cover topics ranging from what happened after the ‘Big Bang’ to the latest space related news.
  7. The “Numberphile” YouTube channel from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) covers a variety of mathematic topics.

Some of these may be good to share with K-12 students interested in STEM careers.

Some Science Behind the Death Star

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I recently came across the article “Going Rogue: The Science Behind the Star Wars Death Star“.

We all enjoy the “science” in Science Fiction, but how possible is it? Most would think that the Death Star was beyond the realm of possibility. This article explores what the energy requirements would be (massive to say the least) for this weapon and how it might be generated. It isn’t impossible, but it is mighty difficult.

The article also points out the little detail of Newton’s Laws of Motion ignored in the movies. Firing a laser (or particle beam) in one direction will create a force in the opposite direction on the object that fired the laser. Because of the immense power needed to destroy a planet (2.24 x 10^32 Joules estimated in the article for a planet similar in size to Earth) the Death Star would be propelled at high speed in the opposite direction.

Of course I guess if they can generate artificial gravity on the Death Star, then they might be able to use other technology to circumvent known physics.

This kind of a discussion, and the associated calculations, might be a great way to involve a Middle School or High School science class.

Art, Music, Space – Visions of Harmony

I came across this video from Apple Music this morning. As it says, it is inspired by Nasa’s Juno Mission and merges music, art and space science. It is less than 9 minutes, but a nice video.

If you are interested in space, you will enjoy it. I am really glad to see that Apple has produced this video. I think it is another way to connect K-12 students with science and technology.

Mini Maker Events Across the Country Nov 5 & 6

Have you ver been to a Maker Faire? I have been to two held in Austin and found them to be fascinating. Maker Faires are usually held at large auditoriums, but this weekend (November 5 & 6, 2016) there will be a Mini Maker Faire held across the country at local Barnes & Nobles book stores.

This is the second year that Barnes & Nobles has hosted a Mini Maker Faire. If you have a Barnes & Nobles near you, you may want to make plans to stop by this weekend. As the name implies you will see things that people ‘make’ ranging from robotics to jewelry. This is a great opportunity to bring out kids to get them interested in STEM activities.

Ada Lovelace Day

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Well, I missed it, but only by 24 hours. Yes, Tuesday, October 11, 2016 was Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace, though she lived from 1815 to 1852, is often recognized as the first computer programmer. The second Tuesday in October has been recognized since 2009 as Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

We need to encourage all kids with interest in STEM careers, but particularly we need to encourage women. We missed it this year, but mark your calendars and plan an event for Tuesday October 10, 2017.