My students were in the middle of a week dedicated to Engineering. I talked to them about spacecraft engineering and helped them with a workshop in which they had to construct a space station from foam blocks, egg cartons, polystyrene and crayons. The spacecraft had to be subjected to several tests: a strength test (support 2 kg of flour), an insulation test (keeping a cup of hot water warm), a volume test (inserting a foam brick into the centre of the craft) and a weight test (the lighter the structure, the more points scored). The winning craft came top of the first three categories by dint of employing an embedded structure (sweet container) to hold the cup of water. It could be lifted through the roof of the craft to allow the foam brick to be inserted. This also made it heavy, but they’d accumulated so many points already that they were going to win no matter what I decided. I had the “best aesthetics” vote. Fortunately for them, they’d made the most colourful and attractive spacecraft, so it was easy. You can see all four of the spacecraft below. The winning craft with its shark-fin solar sails is on the far left.
The education workers kindly compiled the students’ feedback and e-mailed it to me today. I reproduce the students’ comments verbatim, because they are adorable.
The best thing about this programme was...
- When Dr nanila came because we did Space crafts
- Dr nanila because we got to make space shuttles
- When Dr nanila Cam because she taught us about moving to the Moon
- Dr nanila’s visit because we learnt more about Space
- Seeing Dr nanila because I’d never met her before
- Dr nanila because she gave an enjoyable talk about the Moon
- Getting to meet Dr nanila because I got to hear about going into Space
- Making Moon shelters because we worked as a team
- Dr nanila because she taught us a lot about the Moon
- Meeting Dr nanila because she gave me a lot of information
- Making Moon shelters because it was really fun
- When I met Dr nanila because she is famous
I’m dying to know if “...we did Space crafts” was an intentional pun. I’m going to send them Cassini lithographs of Saturn as a thank-you.