Friday, August 6, 2010

ISAS Day 6: Work Day

The morning began with a presentation by Dave Marquart on astronaut suits and other problems which are often encountered in space. The ISAS students chuckled as they watched astronauts from the old Apollo moon landings struggle with simple tasks such as picking up a hammer or trying to stand up. Mr. Marquart elaborated that most of these problems could be blamed on the spacesuit's inflexible design. He showed slides of how the older Apollo-era suits had been recently redefined into harder suits that provided greater mobility and were being tested in United States' deserts.

After the entertaining lecture, the students were told to finalize the budget for their mission to Mars. Each team had to research, analyze, and value the totality of their objectives. After several hours of each group being glued to computers, the students had managed to put together a budget that met most of the teams' individual needs. The students had to defend their team's rights to certain funds and tried to persuade the presenter from the Gray Team into allowing more money to be allocated to their respective projects. The students began to understand how much work goes into organizing such a large scale event. However, it is understandable why these gifted students are in this program. Again and again they astounded the mentors by their organization, innovation, and creativity. These students are taking the project very seriously and are doing an amazing job. If the students continue their achievements in this program and bring them to life in the future, then it shall be a bright future indeed. This research and presentation session raged until noon when the students split up for lunch and some well deserved rest in the cafeteria of the Student Union Building.
Students working hard to finalize their presentations
When the luncheon was over, the students headed back to the Engineering Building to continue work on their presentations and periodically work on the rovers they had started building on the second day of the academy. Students were scattered throughout the buildings but periodically returned to the main lecture room in order to compile their data and report on the day's highlights. While in the midst of one of the students' work sessions, Superintendent Tom Luna visited the students and found them highly energized about their projects. Superintendent Luna went out of his way to congratulate the writers (Jaime Guevara and Andrew Schrader) on the work they have done and was happy to take pictures with them.

As the contraptions 'fell with grace' students crossed their fingers
and hoped their's would survive the Egg Drop Competition
The highlight of the day, for everyone, was the final egg drop competition. The students had to figure out a way to drop an egg from a balcony so that it survived its impact with the ground. The students showed tremendous enthusiasm during the drop and cheered as one another's contraptions slammed into the floor of the Engineering Building.
Superintendent Luna, Dr. Schrader, Dave Marquart, and mentors watching the competition
Dinner came and went and the students gave the cafeteria staff a standing ovation for the exquisite food they had provided. Upon arriving back at the Engineering Building, the students broke up to continue the work on their mission projects and also started to convert their collision sensing rovers into color seeking ones. As the rover would drive over a colored piece of paper it would either beep or send a transmission to a receiver and record which color it had just identified.
Students writing programs to help their rover identify colors
The students finished the evening by practicing their presentations for the final Mars project and critiqued one another in order to optimize their reports for the following day. The hours passed by as students pushed to accomplish all of their goals and most of the day was spent at computers or tables. Overall, it was fairly quiet. The students have been working hard and the mentors have been helping at every available opportunity. Though arriving at the academy from separate backgrounds, these students have almost made it seem easy to cooperate and launch a mission to Mars. Their final presentations tomorrow will show how much they have accomplished in so little time.

These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

No comments:

Post a Comment