Ambigo’s Mission to Mars

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Declan at the white board brainstorming designs for the Mars HAB.

What would it be like to live on another planet? This question inspired great exploration for Ambigo in the final two weeks of the By Air Arc. Students worked on teams to design and build a habitat that was a third the size it would need to be to keep all of us alive on Mars. We set our constraints based on the recent announcement from Elon Musk’s plans for getting to Mars in 80 days. Each team had their own research to do and piece of the habitat to build. Teams covered hydrology, climate, human resources, site facilities, and communications.

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Norabelle and Felix troubleshooting the airlock.

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Rhone soldering the radio for the communications team.

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Khalia radioing her teammates about the storage containers that helped make up our atmosphere in the HAB.

Students wrote reflections on the process of tackling such a big project in our final week of the By Air Arc. Here’s an excerpt from Audrey’s reflection:

We wanted to make the HAB as realistic as possible. A lot of research and math went into that and I think we did a pretty good job. I also thought it was cool that when using the HAB we tried to make sure that the two airlock doors were never open at the same time because if it was a real HAB, and both airlock doors were open at the same time, all the air would rush out and everyone would die. I think my favorite part of the project was the very last day when we had to connect everything together and finish everything in one day (it was also pretty stressful). It was really cool to see everything we had worked on for the last week suddenly come together. Some of my favorite moments in that day were cutting the plastic between the cardboard rings and seeing the newly connected room on the other side.  I think I learned a lot from this project. I learned for one thing that I need to get better at planning out a whole project rather than just planning the first couple days. I also learned that some tasks that seem so big will turn out to be not as hard as you think. We made a HAB in ONE week. That still sounds a little impossible to me. I’m really happy with what came out of this and I can’t wait to see what we do next.

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The HAB all light up for Expo night!

This week we’re kicking off the By Land Arc by looking at traditions. After spending a week  in Mendocino, a beautiful Brightworks tradition, we’re considering what traditions we want to carry over from Arc 1 into Arc 2. We’ll also be taking a field trip to the Oakland Museum of California to look at some rich Bay Area traditions. We’re still thinking of ways we may continue to explore the movement of things by land on the Red Planet, and how we will keep up traditions new and old throughout the second Arc.

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Rhone spotted a deer on our last morning in Mendocino.

 

Exploring Polygons

This arc, the Blue Band took a deep dive into geometry.  Inspired by the polyhedrons we created for our hot air balloon project we set out to become better acquainted with the shapes we were using.  Paul Lockhart, in his defense of the open ended math problem once said, “Mental acuity of any kind comes from solving problems yourself, not from being told how to solve them.”  In that spirit we didn’t start with all of the vocabulary and relationships between shapes, we let the students discover it all for themselves. The band’s first challenge was to create a family tree of different shapes.  

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Some students grouped their shapes by number of sides, some grouped them by angle and others incorporated both of these aspects.

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The group’s next challenge was to see how many different polygons they could create using 4 triangles.

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They discovered fourteen different polygons that could be constructed from these four triangles.  We had been slowly becoming more familiar with the vocabulary of polygons. The teams came together to sort them based on number of sides into quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons and octogons.

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We did some explorations into different types of quadrilaterals.  The bands had to use peg boards to see how many different types of quadrilaterals they could make.  We then learned different names for these shapes and labeled them.

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Our study of shapes culminated with a reading of the Hungry Triangle by Marilyn Burns.  The students then wrote their own stories about a shapes.  Gita wrote about a heart that didn’t fit in amongst her fellow polygons because she had curved sides.  Ramses wrote about a triangle chicken that spent all day eating different triangles.  Ronan wrote about a circle that could be considered a polygon with infinite sides.  All of their stories revealed some deeper understanding of shapes and polygons.

Our Journey To Space

We did it!  The Blue and Yellow bands sent a balloon into the stratosphere.  It reached a height of 83,000 ft, roughly 3 times the height a commercial jet flies, before bursting and bringing back to earth footage from it’s journey.

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All big dreams have small beginnings and our adventure started here with this sketch by our expert ballooning enthusiast, Josh Myer (Calvin’s dad).  The band took notes, asked good questions and generally absorbed all the important mission information they could.   I love those faces!

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The students learned from their expert that the scope of this project was pretty large and the risk of losing our balloon and equipment was very real.  Like any ambitious project we divided ours into smaller more manageable segments.  The blue band split into two teams: Team Helium and Team Payload.

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The Yellow Band was tasked with figuring out where our balloon would land.  Gever briefed the whole team on wind and weather patterns and how they might effect our launch.  The students learned that wind speed and direction is different at higher altitudes.  This is why the speed at which our balloon rises effects the distance it travels.  The longer it stays at high altitudes the further it will be carried by strong high altitude winds.  This information would later become important in the Helium Team’s calculations.

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Team Payload’s first task was to weigh all of the ingredients of the payload so that the Team Helium could estimate the amount of helium they would need to buy.  They used the balance scale to weigh the go pro, GPS tracker, battery pack as well as the various packaging and lines.

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Team Payload had learned from our egg-drop challenge the importance of securing all of the equipment so it wouldn’t break.  They came up with a system for securing the equipment and lines to the styrofoam container in such a way that we could still remove them.  They were in charge of making sure all the important components were packed, charged, and turned on for the flight.

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Team Helium used the balloon performance calculator to estimate how much helium they would need.  They entered the weight of the balloon and the weight of the payload and then played around with the amount of lift until the balloon’s ascent rate was ideal. When they had figured out the amount of lift they recorded the cubic feet of helium we would need to create that lift.  It turned out we needed 76 cuft of helium, so we piled into the car and headed out to a party store to rent a tank of helium!

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Team Helium’s next big task was to go over the balloon filling procedure and create checklists.  They read a how-to guide and harvested important information on what to pack, safety procedures and the steps they would need to take to fill the balloon without popping it!

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Sadie and Isaac practice the knot they will need to use to tie off the balloon!  Sadie volunteered for this high stakes job, and pulled it off beautifully.

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On the day of the launch Ramses read the steps to the team and the rest of the Team followed his instructions for filling the balloon.

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First they attached the nozzle onto the tank.

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Then they attached the hose to the balloon and held it gently while the tank was turned on.

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It was amazing to see the balloon fill with air and start tugging on our lift scale.  We needed 1050 grams of lift in order to have a successful flight.  Different teams of two took turns holding the scale and reading out the amount of lift.  As the payload was attached to the balloon the you could feel the excitement and tension.  We were so close to launch and nothing had gone wrong!  The balloon was finally launched amidst screams of relief and delight.  As the balloon floated away into a speck in the sky the kids ran around giving each other hugs and high fives and generally wearing out their vocal chords!

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Had we known, when we left the Lawrence Hall of Sciences to chase down the balloon, that we would be returning home hours past everyones bed time, we might have turned back.

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But if we had, we would’ve missed one of those golden moments of childhood, when you leave the safety of routine, do something difficult and then discover that despite all odds your story has a happy ending!

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Back at school the following week, we coaxed a story out of the lists of numbers recovered from our GPS.  We discovered that the balloon had traveled 115 flat miles, ascended to 82,798 ft and reached speeds up to 73 mph.

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The Blue Band graphed the altitude data and got an idea of the path our brave balloon took through the sky.

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You can see footage of the earth from near space as well as the launch.  It is truly breath taking.  I hope you enjoy it!

Building, flying, graphing, constructing, eating

These last two weeks have seen iterations two and three of our tetrahedral kite. After reflecting on kite one, the Teal Band knew they needed to solve the problems caused by so many string connections which loosened during flight, as well as address the time factor it took to construct the kite. After some hands-on exploration of the materials and online research, it was discovered that the string could be eliminated completely by simply inserting one end of the straw into the end of another, three times over, and closing off the shape to create a triangle. With the time spent studying tetrahedrons, the band quickly saw ways to create one tetrahedron using only two triangles and building off of others to create the other two faces. This method cut down on construction time greatly, allowing them to build a kite in about one day instead of three.

Selina spent a lot of time building and exploring our new tetrahedral structure.

Another issue that arose with the initial kite was how delicate the tissue paper was. The band wanted to improve on its performance and after some research, which also included trying out mylar, they settled on Tyvek. The Tyvek was found to be an incredibly sturdy material and was quite easy to affix to the kite’s straw structure.

Tyvek proved to be a much stronger material than the original tissue paper.

Iteration #2 saw a move from tissue paper to Tyvek in order to improve on the strength of the materials.

Unfortunately, the afternoon we chose to fly our second iteration up on Bernal Hill, the wind was incredibly strong and it wreaked havoc on our kite. The amazing thing was that it continued to fly even after the straws began to pull apart from one another. While it initially felt like a failure, a reflection on the kite’s construction, materials, and flight brought to light the successes and next steps.

Kite #2 after attempting to fly it on an incredibly windy afternoon on Bernal Hill.

Kite #2 after attempting to fly it on an incredibly windy afternoon on Bernal Hill.

The band decided to keep the basic design and construction methods the same for the third iteration, which included two kites. The biggest overall change that was made included taping the straws together at their connection points. Huxley was incredibly interested in seeing how the scale of the tetrahedron also played into its stability. This is how the second kite came to be. The straws were cut shorter, creating smaller tetrahedral structures. The band also decided to use mylar from emergency blankets to create the sails for this kite and continued to use Tyvek on the other, larger kite. Jared and Huxley were luckily able to salvage a fair amount of Tyvek from the second kite to use on the third.

Two different materials were used for the third iteration of the kites. The larger kite still used Tyvek, while the smaller kite used mylar.

With the completion of our two third iteration kites, we took them to Ocean Beach in hopes of finding a good ocean breeze to send them soaring. Our sunny San Francisco October days certainly seem to have it out for us now. There was zero wind. The band made multiple attempts to get them off the ground, racing up and down the beach. Neither of them made it very far into the air, but the movements they did make give us hope for a successful future flight.

Aurora and Selina put the finishing touches on the smaller kite at Ocean Beach. Bamboo rods helped keep the kite’s structure.

Jared and his mom worked as a team to try and get the larger kite to fly. Unfortunately, the wind wasn’t on our side and with no wind, it didn’t fly.

When we weren’t building our kites or attempting to fly them, we were “playing” with paper airplanes. The Teal Band experimented with a number of designs and eventually found “The Moth” to be a stable and sturdy plane. Once the planes were built, we discussed multiple ways we could test their flight and measure particular outcomes. We measured distances flow, heights thrown from, length of flight time, wing surface area, and multiple other constants and variables. After selecting a constant and a variable, the data was measured and recorded in a table, then transferred to a graph. One observation that really stood out to the band, was how much thrust (how hard the “pilot” threw the plane) played a part in the plane’s flight path and distance flown.

Working with paper airplanes allowed us to look at the forces of flight, along with controlled experiments and graphing.

Working with paper airplanes allowed us to look at the forces of flight, along with controlled experiments and graphing.

Charts and graphs were created using the data collected from the planes’ flights.

The redesign of the bridge between the Teal bandspace and the library has moved into its construction phase. Once it was decided that the bridge needed to incorporate some storage space, the band worked to design a shelving system that will eventually hold their “favorite books.” Observing Amanda’s shelf she built for the shop provided inspiration, leading to construction drawings, measurements and cut lists. Using all their building skills, the Teal Band was able to cut all 2x3s for the shelf and begin carefully assembling it so that it is completely square.

The first steps in constructing the bridge wall included sketching out a shelving system. Amanda’s shelf served as inspiration, though it didn’t come with instructions.

All the proper tools were used to make sure the shelving components would be nice and square.

Anyone who puts in this much work deserves something special. For that reason, after attempting to fly their kites at Ocean Beach, the Teal Band got to have tostadas at my house. They were definitely enjoyed. Who knew a band of 10 and 11 year olds could go through a jar of jalapeños? I do now.

Our special experience for the week included tostadas at my house after our morning trip to the beach.

 

All Abuzz in the Orange Band

 

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Orange Band field trips around the SF Bay offered countless reminders and inspiration to DO

The past weeks in the Orange Band have been filled with adventures out in our communities, as well as  journeys inward. Students have taken trips, small and large, examine what it means to work, explore, and know each other as learners and individuals. The time has flown by as we continued our community building, workshop building, and dives into the smaller things that move by air!

 

Our Communal Table

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Time and again, the table continues to be a project that requires the assistance of many – it is certainly NOT a job for one. Charlotte works on a support beam with the help of Justin and Lucy.

Orange Band’s workshop build has focused on the communal table, now in its final stages. With thoughtful determination and focus, students have added onto and strengthened our frame, as well as continued to work through with great perseverance on the trickier aspects of the plan. Often, this meant a day’s work in the shop resulted in simply realigning one particular beam. Even more often, the movable leg extension prototype or plan could not be used and it was back to the drawing board…again…for the third or fourth time! At times, it seemed as though the work was infinitesimal – or even nonexistent. And yet,  in attending to the small detail of a misplaced screw, or another iteration of the leg extension, students were also practicing and honing that critical skill of grit. As psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth writes in her book Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, “grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.” In the Orange Band, despite setbacks and frustrations, students have continued to work on our communal table with as much love as they had when they began in September.

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Checking and rechecking measurements – Is the table true? Do the supports address the needs of the table?

 

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Lucy’s carefully measured and cut framing pieces (above) for the movable tabletop can only be put into place with the help of her band members. Jeevan, Roman, and Justin lend hands and clamps.

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Complicated plans call for complicated tool rigging! Charlotte and Phoebe work with Evan to construct a drill that can do that job.

 

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Will THIS iteration of the movable leg extension be the one that works? Phoebe and Charlotte can only try it out and see if it works!

 

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Cut and measured – the tabletop needed only a few (or four) adjustments before it fit.

 

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With a table top cut and measured, the blackboard finish can finally be applied. Nora adds her mark before it gets covered completely.

Geometry Explorations

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This arc, the math focus continued to be on making sense of geometry and the math hidden in triangles, quadrilaterals, and pentagons. Orange Band students kept hands on the manipulatives as they sussed out the secrets of polygons. The prevalence of pattern blocks in the band space should not discredit the math being tackled! As Stanford professor Jo Boaler reminds us, “visual mathematics is an important part of mathematics for its own sake and new brain research tells us that visual mathematics even helps students learn numerical mathematics.” Using manipulatives can help make the more abstract mathematical properties concrete and within our grasp.

To this end, we have dug into the properties of polygons; created proofs to find the sums of interior angles; investigated the ways that shapes do – and don’t – create patterns; and used these conjectures and understandings to interrogate further what we know about geometry. 

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By using what we learn about one shape, say, a triangle, we can make new understandings about others, such as hexagons.

 

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Orange Band students test out how a variety of regular polygons tessellate, or cover a surface by repeating with no gaps or overlaps.

Charlotte found another regular polygon in her trapezoid tessellation - the hidden hexagons!

Charlotte found another regular polygon in her trapezoid tessellation – the hidden hexagons!

 

Justin's tessellation within his tessellation brought to mind the artwork of M.C. Escher.

Justin’s tessellation within his tessellation brought to mind the artwork of M.C. Escher.

 

The final tessellations: original, irregular designs of our own creation.

The final tessellations: original, irregular designs of our own creation.

 

The Smallest Among Us

The exploration of the movement of things by air is a daunting one. People have been fascinated with our own flight for thousands of years, tracing back from ancient mythology to not-so-distant plans for planetary colonization; technology has only heightened the speed, distance, and ease with which we travel by air. 

The Orange Band’s investigations into that which moves by air took on a much smaller scale than human travel. Students began to study a creature that rarely enters our frame of mind – unless one flies into our midst: bees! While people have been intricately intertwined with bees for centuries (the ancient Egyptians were beekeepers and honey devotees), only recently, we discovered, has the physics of bee flight – a clumsy and inefficient effort – been explained.

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Orange Banders try out what it feels like to BE the bee at the Oakland Museum of California exhibit, Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact.

As we began to think more deeply about bees, it became clear that people’s interest in the tiny insect was always connected to how bee populations – the decline of them, to be specific – affect us. After digesting this stark reminder of people’s less than altruistic nature when it comes to the natural world, Orange Band students took a look at the importance of a bee and the critical first twenty-one days of a bee’s life. With colonies collapsing worldwide due to parasites, pesticides, and climate change, the plight of the simple bee has far reaching repercussions. Our research led us to a citizen science project tracking yet another honey bee parasite, Apocephalus borealis: ZomBee Watch.

Jeevan and the ZomBee Watch crew constructed a zombee trap in the hopes of gathering infected bees.

Jeevan and the ZomBee Watch crew constructed a ZomBee light trap in the hopes of gathering infected bees.

The Communities Around Us

Koi gazing at the Oakland Museum of California.

Koi gazing at the Oakland Museum of California.

Part of our time together this arc has been spent exploring our surroundings – the immediate spaces and places we can walk to, as well as those at greater distances. Our forays in and out of the neighborhood serve to inform our understanding of how we relate to the world around us. Treks to the neighborhood community garden with the Blue Band offer a chance to take the same roads (a park at Park time somehow seems different from a park during the school day!) with new eyes – perhaps eyes that spy moss with a tardigrade lurking in it!

Blue and Orange bands took a small trip to go on a water bear hunt.

Blue and Orange bands took a small trip to go on a water bear hunt.

Our travels also give us a chance to see the breadth of our City, as we discovered on a recent trip to the Exploratorium. MUNI rides through San Francisco offer countless opportunities to see the people who live and work among us, as well as appreciate the special beauty of city landmarks peeking behind hills and around street corners. To say nothing of the fun and magic of museums like the Exploratorium, where we dove into the Sound and Light exhibits, as well as a jelly bean or two. 😉

How is it that water seems suspended in midair in this globe?

How is it that water seems suspended in midair in this globe?

Orange Band wielding control over nature: tornado making!

Orange Band wielding control over nature: tornado making!

When what we see doesn't match up with what we expect.

When what we see doesn’t match up with what we expect.

Throughout these explorations, Orange Band students also continue to delve into sharing more and more of each other. How is it that in only a few short weeks, we seem to know so much about one another? How are we already so apt at anticipating reactions and allies in our endeavors? New friendships and old have sprung up and strengthened through this arc. Often evidenced in the quiet moments of writing and reflection time, the bus rides across San Francisco, and, of course, Friday Personal Shares.

Nora shared her Minecraft mansion to a rapt Orange Band.

Nora shared her Minecraft mansion to a rapt Orange Band.

Charlotte and Phoebe are so often working together, comfortable in each other's company.

Charlotte and Phoebe are so often working together, comfortable in each other’s company.

Friday shares give Amiya a chance to bring in a passion of his for the band to admire.

Friday shares give Amiya a chance to bring in a passion of his for the band to admire.

Golf is a hobby of Roman's that he was eager to share with the band.

Golf is a hobby of Roman’s that he was eager to share with the band.

As we gear up for a gathering at the end of this first arc, it is a marvelous thing to reflect upon how far we have come together! With this unique group of individuals setting the foundation for the arcs to come, I know I can’t wait.

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Yellow Band: by Air, Week 4 & 5

There have been downs, but also ups…

The launch crew working hard outside the Lawrence Hall of Science to get the balloon ready to launch. We went through our checklists, and put our practice to good use--with a view!

The launch crew working hard outside the Lawrence Hall of Science to get the balloon ready to launch. We went through our checklists, and put our practice to good use–with a view!

Our weather balloon drifts up from our launch site at Lawrence Hall of Science.

Our weather balloon drifts up from our launch site at Lawrence Hall of Science.

The last few weeks, our skill building math and science work has built toward the launching of a weather balloon and payload, equipped with a camera set to film our trip to near space. This has been a huge undertaking, in collaboration with the Blue Band. Hence the radio silence.

First, we dropped eggs, trying to figure out how fragile an egg is, and developing strategies to record our data.

Solin records her data for egg drops at different heights. We realized that in order to discern the maximum height to drop an unprotected egg, we would need to start low.

Solin records her data for egg drops at different heights. We realized that in order to discern the maximum height to drop an unprotected egg, we would need to start low.

Then, we moved on to egg protection strategies, working up from dropping our eggs first at table height, and finally from the roof!

Sakira used some foam scraps to build a box and protect her egg. But, when the box hit the ground, it came open, the egg rolled out and cracked!

Sakira used some foam scraps to build a box and protect her egg. But, when the box hit the ground, it came open, the egg rolled out and cracked!

Rebecca and Sakira working on their egg drop packages at the Orchard. We spent a few days co-working with the Blue Band, and a lot of great cross-pollination happened. Check out those pool noodles! Rebecca devised a way to cut a slit in the pool noodle from the inside, so that she could nestle the egg inside--cozy!

Rebecca and Sakira working on their egg drop packages at the Orchard. We spent a few days co-working with the Blue Band, and a lot of great cross-pollination happened. Check out those pool noodles! Rebecca devised a way to cut the pool noodle into segments and then reassemble, so that she could nestle the egg inside–cozy!

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Devlin puts some finishing touches on his pentagonal prism, making sure to secure the egg in place with tape inside the box, his innovation for protecting the egg.

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Reyahn’s egg drop package gets dropped from the roof. And the egg made it!

All of this was to get a feel for how our package would drop to earth, and how we would protect the delicate technology inside. Our goal, after all, would be to take pictures on the earth from the stratosphere, and we didn’t want out camera to get smashed upon reentry!

This was a fun, silly and practical introduction to our project. Then, we moved on to some of the other challenges of our launch: figuring out how much our payload would weigh, calculating the volume of helium necessary to lift the payload and carry it far enough–but not too far, and planning for tracking down and retrieving the package, so that we could see the pictures we took. We decided that these three problems would make three teams. Blue would take on calculating the helium and constructing the payload, and Yellow would predict the path of the balloon, and plan for retrieval.

But first, Josh Myers (Calvin’s dad!) came in as an expert on high-altitude ballooning (HAB). Thank you SO MUCH Josh!

Josh gave us such a good rundown of what to plan for, what to expect, and the risks associated with our project. It helped the kiddos realize the scope of the project, and got them super pumped to send things into space.

Josh gave us such a good rundown of what to plan for, what to expect, and the risks associated with our project. It helped the kiddos realize the scope of the project, and got them super pumped to send things into space.

And we got to work! The Yellow Banders started small, first laying out our block, and comparing the distance across the block “as the crow flies” (aka the hypotenuse) and around, that a human would have to walk.

Sakira points out Charle's Chocolates on our map of our block.

Sakira points out Charle’s Chocolates on our map of our block.

While proving a relationship between the length of the two sides and the hypotenuse was super hard, we were able to make the connection to our flight: the “crow flies” distance, or hypotenuse, was a metaphor for the path our balloon would travel. The two sides of the block, that a human would walk, represented our driving distance to retrieve the balloon. And they would be very different.

Each morning, we worked with a map showing the predicted path of the balloon. Using the scale, Yellow Banders predicted about how far the balloon would travel. Then, they highlighted the roads we would travel on the map, and measured about how far we would travel.

Emilio works on dividing the path of the balloon into segments the same length as the scale of the map, and then counting up by 5s to approximate the distance travelled by the balloon.

Emilio works on dividing the path of the balloon into segments the same length as the scale of the map, and then counting up by 5s to approximate the distance travelled by the balloon.

Same map, different routes. Devlin thought we should take I-5, Oscar thought we should take 130 to retrieve the balloon out in the central valley.

Same map, different routes. Devlin thought we should take I-5, Oscar thought we should take 130 to retrieve the balloon out in the central valley.

And then, the day arrived. We had prepared all we could prepare; it was time for the rubber to meet the road, as my mom would say. Below are some of my favorite pictures from the day. Please check out our Flickr to see more (and video too!).

Sakira, Isaac, Reyahn and Ronan carefully (palms up!) hold the balloon for initial inflation.

Sakira, Isaac, Reyahn and Ronan carefully (palms up!) hold the balloon for initial inflation.

Reyahn and Soleil work together to hold the positive lift scale down to the ground while we inflate the balloon. We needed to inflate the balloon with a specific amount of lift, which also meant a specific volume of helium, so that the balloon would travel far enough--but not too far!

Reyahn and Soleil work together to hold the positive lift scale down to the ground while we inflate the balloon. We needed to inflate the balloon with a specific amount of lift, which also meant a specific volume of helium, so that the balloon would travel far enough–but not too far!

Solin steps up to feel the pull of the balloon up. Since helium has a lower molecular weight than the air we breathe, and is less dense, it rises in our atmosphere. It is left over from the formation of the earth, trapped inside pockets deep underground. New helium is made in the sun!

Solin steps up to feel the pull of the balloon up. Since helium has a lower molecular weight than the air we breathe, and is less dense, it rises in our atmosphere. It is left over from the formation of the earth, trapped inside pockets deep underground. New helium is made in the sun when hydrogen atoms collide!

Sadie ties off the filled balloon. This moment was a real nail-biter, but you would have thought so from Sadie's calm, steady hand, twisting and wrapping one rubber band after another.

Sadie ties off the filled balloon. This moment was a real nail-biter, but you wouldn’t have thought so from Sadie’s calm, steady hand, twisting and wrapping one rubber band after another.

Oscar and Tamasen gazed the travel of the balloon, up and away, for as long as they could. It drifted south, and faded to a pale white dot as it rose.

Oscar and Tamasen gazed the travel of the balloon, up and away, for as long as they could. It drifted south, and faded to a pale white dot as it rose.

Several brave souls jumped into cars to chase down the balloon--what an adventure! We recovered the balloon, the payload and all of the footage. Come check it out at our arc presentation next Thursday!

Several brave souls jumped into cars to chase down the balloon–what an adventure! We recovered the balloon, the payload and all of the footage. Come check it out at our arc presentation next Thursday!

Tom Sachs Exhibit

The Ambigo Band has been curious about space travel, and so we took a trip to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see Tom Sachs’ Space Program: Europa. We noticed how Tom Sachs combines seemingly unrelated objects in his work, and considered ways we might blend science and art in our own Mars habitat here at Brightworks. To share more about our project, and this inspiring trip, Oscar has volunteered to be our guest blogger for the week. Here’s what Oscar saw, and some connections he made to what we’ve been working on at Brightworks.

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Today was pretty fun (not actually today, by today I mean October 4th), Amber Band went to YBCA to see the Tom Sachs’ exhibit. When we got there Megan told us to find one piece of art that we really liked, and write how the artist (Tom Sachs) combined science with “silliness”.

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This is a picture of the art piece I wrote about. It is called Mission Control and it was made in 2007, here is the link to the site that I found this picture on. It is a picture of a panel of screens, all showing live feed from cameras in different places in the museum. I don’t really know why Tom Sachs made this, but I think that it’s really cool to see what people are doing regularly, and then what they do when they know that they are on camera. A lot of the art that Tom Sachs made was very strange and weird, so on the cameras you got to see how people reacted to the art. At Brightworks we are making a HAB (Habitat) kind of like the one in The Martian. One of the things Megan told us to write about was how the art we chose might have inspired us on a approach to building the HAB. I think that our mission control should look a bit like this, with a bunch of cameras showing live feed on what is happening in the HAB.