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Archives: March, 2014

“Gravity-Defying” Chain Trick  March 20th, 2014

Have you ever seen a chain do this?

For centuries, scientists have tried to explain this gravity-defying phenomena.  This chain curve, or “fountain”, happens due to the forces acting on the chain, which is explained in the video below.  The Royal Society also tries other chains to see if they are capable of creating a fountain. Check it out!

Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Team  March 20th, 2014

Our engineering team got a chance to peak into the auto shop of Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Racing Team.  The team won a national championship back in 2010 and is trying to do so again this year.  Never heard of Formula SAE racing? In this trailer of the short film Relentless the OSU team shows part of the process in preparing for this race.  Be sure to check out Youtube to see all of Relentless.

When our engineering team stepped inside the shop of this year’s Formula SAE team, they got to have a sneak peak of how a part is designed and engineered. This end cap is an important engine part that will help the formula car go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. Check it out:

Engineering Team: Completed Project  March 20th, 2014

The team has finished! In this video they show off their cable car along with the extra activity walls needed to check off their requirements (which are different than yours). Their project also easily comes apart so it can travel and makes its way to you guys!

The team says their final good-byes and recaps on what worked well in their project.  The guys said teamwork is what really made their project run smoothly so make sure to watch the teamwork video if you have not done so already. We cannot wait to show you their finished project during the Middle School Challenge!

Engineering Team: Cable Car Videos  March 20th, 2014

The engineering team introduces some videos that may be useful to your cable car project.  The videos shows the assembly and disassembly of ski lifts, which are very much like cable cars but not identical.  What are the differences you see? How can this be applied to your project? Let us know in the comments section below!

Video 1: Chairlift Assembly

Video 2: Chairlift Tower Disassembly

Video 3: Peak to Peak Cable Installation

Engineering Team: Code of Ethics  March 20th, 2014

This week Alex talks to us about the engineering code of ethics. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as: “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”.  This can play a role when you engineer a product that is for the masses, such as your cable car.  These practices are good to keep in mind when you incorporate safety into your cable car. Take a listen to the engineering code of ethics!

Follow up: Batteries  March 14th, 2014

Previously on the blog we showed you how to build a biodegradable battery from washers, pennies, and vinegar. A SMILE Club from Forest Grove High School shared with us the many different objects they used to try to create a battery.  Success came when the club used a strawberry as their energy source, but what characteristics of strawberry make it a good battery? We think this video does a great job of explaining the science behind this concept:

Hopefully after watching this video you have a better understanding of anodes and cathodes.  What else could be used in place of the strawberry or lemon? Scientist Angela Belcher is working on making batteries from viruses so that batteries can be biodegradable.  In this article she expands on her research.  What do you think will make a good battery?


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2014 High School Challenge Recap: Marine Protected Areas  March 14th, 2014

This February was the SMILE program’s 11th annual Ocean Sciences High School Challenge event.  This years event provided 120 students from 10 statewide SMILE clubs with a real world opportunity apply what they learned in their Clubs about the topic of Marine Resource Management.  More than 15 Oregon State University and community partners and 20 undergraduate mentors guided students as they learned about Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) and then used their knowledge to increase community awareness of MPA’s through the creation of interpretive signs, a newscast, and a final presentation.
As part of the challenge, students worked with OSU’s Student Media Services to create newscasts about Marine Protected Areas. Here are a few examples:

The students had only two hours to work with their teams and create their final products and what they were able to come up with was impressive!  We are happy to share some examples of student ingenuity!


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LEGO® Robotics  March 10th, 2014

During our SMILE Winter Teacher’s Workshop 2014, teachers learned about the WeDo Robotics software and how to create their own LEGO® Robotics! Teachers used engineering and creativity to build working, moving machines. Here is a list of some of the LEGO® robots resources that were shared by Catherine Law during this session: