Monday, July 28, 2014

ISAS Academy Two: Day 2

Academy students started putting together the more specific aspects of the missions early on the second day.  Jason Budinoff of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center came in with mission guidelines or parameters. He gave the students their main landing site and eight specific research sites they need to collect core samples from. The students were told that they would have to bring all the samples with them back to Earth. The teams split up and brainstormed their needs. Both needs they’d need for their team and needs they would need from other teams, as well as what they would contribute as a team. Teams are to now collaborate and sometimes compromise on the different aspects of the Mars mission. This activity will help the mission planning to become a cooperative effort and the mission will develop as each team realizes how changes in the logistics and itinerary overlap and affect the other teams.

Jason Budinoff of NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center gave the teams there mission goal and parameters.

After three hours of mission planning the students were taken on a tour of Boise State University's College of Engineering. They visited different labs to learn about different instruments and research projects that are on campus. Students visited the Materials Science & Engineering lab and they also visited the Scanning Electron Microscope. The students were able to learn about Micro Propulsion which, while the thrust would not be able to lift anything here on earth, in space these little thrusters would be easily able to orient spacecraft to where they needed to be. Students were also able to visit the New Product Development Lab, to see the products of their 3D printing and learn about how those Boise State University students are doing business for real clients and gaining valuable experience. Students also had the chance to visit a lab where they were shown materials that were made out of magnetic shape memory alloys. One of the demonstrations in this lab allowed students to see a spring stretched out and then returned to its original shape under the presence of heat. Students also had the opportunity to ride a Segway in the courtyard.

Students toured research labs at Boise State Univerity's College of Engineering

Students had the opportunity to ride the Boise State College of Engineering's segway.

After lunch the students  were greeted by Dr. C.J. Northrup, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and by Dr. Jennifer Snow, Associate Dean of the College of Education. These two Associate Deans talked about different programs and opportunities at Boise State University and really went in depth with student questions. Questions the students asked were about college and student life in general as well as specific career paths some students are thinking about leading.

Associate Deans talk candidly with students about their future options in education. 

Next we learned about rockets. Rob and Olly, two recent graduates in mechanical (Rob) and electrical (Olly) engineering, brought in their senior project, a model rocket that was just shy of 13 feet long and 8 inches in diameter. Students also had the opportunity to watch a video of a model rocket launching up into the stratosphere. Students seemed to really enjoy this presentation and will get an up close look of another rocket at the rocket launch on Thursday

Showing off their senior project, recent graduates, Rob and Olly talk to the students about rockets.

We then learned about the proper way to design a scientific poster from Dr. Jennifer Forbey. She also discussed tips for presenting and keeping your audience captivated. For Saturday’s presentation, each team will have to put together their own poster to present their discoveries and plan for their portion of the Mars mission.

After dinner and more team time, the final event of the day was a three hour session on robotics with Woody Sobey of the Discovery Center of Idaho. The students had programmed these robots through basic maneuvers for there semester class, but today they needed to build and program their robots for more complicated tasks. Their objectives were to get it to move, go approximately a meter and make a square. Then students added LED lights and programmed these lights to blink. Next the robots were programmed to make a sound and then the sounds were arranged into song, a couple of students even had their robot perform the mockingjay theme from the Hunger Games. The songs that were played varied in how complicated they were. The next challenge was to add a light sensor and to program in a theremin which would allow a tone to vary based on how much light was on the sensor. And finally the different teams challenged each other's robots in a sumo match. The robots were programmed to drive around a black circular field, turn around when they saw the white line border and hopefully in the process push their opponent's robot out of the ring.

After building, programming and testing, students hope their robots stay inside the ring.

These ISAS students are working very hard and have accomplished much this the second day of the academy. They are incredible students who enjoy working together and learning new things. Tomorrow will  be another jammed packed day as we will be taking an early flight to visit the NASA Ames Research Center in California. Be sure to check out the Facebook and Twitter pages for more photos and updates. #ISASAcademy

--Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and 
Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna)
ISAS Social Media Mentors


  1. Hi to all of my Spring ISAS students. Have a terrific week and enjoy every moment at Ames! :-)

  2. Camille and Holly, you are really busy with taking pictures and documenting already!! You are amazing. Miss you both.