Thursday, July 28, 2011

Middle school girls ace the aerodynamics lesson

The final installment of the short course on Air Duct Aerodynamics with middle schoolers at Carroll Community College.

Now how many dads have daughters in middle school who can design a good air duct for their race car? Well, at least three (unless the girls here are all sisters).

Note the gratuitous pan across the race car. Now there's some product placement for ya'!

Looking forward to more adventures with kids and engineering lessons in the future. (And hoping that Ramzi's car is still drivable after all of the experiments with novice parts designers cramming cardboard models up under the engine block....)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The need for (airflow) speed

So, as we mentioned last post, Ramzi presented a group of 6th and 7th grade students with the problem of cooling a giant racing engine with a half-size radiator. (Why does it have a half-size radiator? you ask. I asked Ramzi the same question. To accommodate the turbo!) The point was for the kids to test out and develop a better cooling airflow system under the hood by applying basic principles of aerodynamics.

Students were given precise instructions on how to proceed:

Step 1: Plan out your under-car duct with cardboard, designing it to capture as much free air as possible.

Step 2: Use your cardboard pieces as a stencil for the metal pieces, tracing each piece with your sharpie. (I think this is how NASA develops prototypes for space shuttles. Or did, before they stopped making them.)

Step 3: Test out your cardboard design under the car.

Step 4: Cut with snips, bend with pliers, drill 1/8" holes (for rivets), and rivet the metal model to match your cardboard design.

Step 5: Test fit your metal prototype under the car.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Let's take a look at one of slides included in the presentation.... (Warning: nerd alert)

Exhibit 1:

No, wait, that nerd alert warning was premature. Here's the real deal.

Exhibit #2

Safety first. (See? I'm not just hyper about bike helmets.) Anyway, here's the fun stuff: a clip of the first group of students testing their cardboard design... on the race car.

Next up, the middle school girls try out their design....

Short course: the science behind speed

On July 13th, AST's founder taught an engineering class to rising 6th and 7th graders at Carroll Community College.

The topic: aerodynamics.

The challenge: to design and test an improved air duct system.

And of course they used the official AST race car to test things out.... Talk about hands-on learning!

You may be wondering about the insightful commentary. That would be my brother, uttering such gems as "This is a phone that doubles as a camera -- one of the great engineering inventions of the century" and "I'm eating a carrot. Yeah, to get my veggies in the morning." (Still better than the caliber of commentator banter that was being aired during the FIFA women's final....)

Stay tuned for part 2, in which a cadre of middle school boys try out their design.