READesign High River – March 2018 – Session 4

Our fourth and final session for Project READesign High River was held on March 24 at the High River Library in the W.O. Mitchell room.

Participants designed devices to rescue Jack and Annie, characters from “Vacation Under the Volcano” by Mary Pope Osbourne, from a ‘creek bed full of volcanic ash and pumice sand’ without touching the characters with their hands. In the book, the characters are rescued by a huge gladiator – Hercules – who is featured in the scroll that Jack and Annie are sent back to rescue from Pompeii in ancient roman times.

Participant designs included simple pieces of k’nex, a catapult, a crane built out of Lego, and a lifting device built out of littleBits electronic building blocks and Lego! Great use of imagination and team work!

Part of Engineering is learning how to work with other people to come up with great designs that will meet the customer’s needs – in this case, rescuing Jack and Annie from the ‘ash and pumice rock’ kinetic sand and delivering them gently into the safe zone on the table outside the ‘creek bed’.

While students were re-designing their devices a second time, everyone watched a demonstration of making sponge toffee (a.k.a. ‘pumice rock candy’), and an underwater volcano simulation using wax, sand, and water in a beaker.

Guest volunteer and Geologist, Lauren Ostridge, explained the way pumice is formed is very similar to how we made the candy this session – with lots of heat, bubbles, and rapid solidification!

Finally, the students re-designed, built, and tested their devices for rescuing Jack and Annie one last time – some improvements/experiments with the design included: using an even simpler two pieces of k’nex device, adapting the littleBits crane to use up and down motion instead of horizontal rotation, and turning the Lego crane upside down to scoop Jack and Annie into the container more easily.

We had so much fun this session – hope to see our participants again at future BrainSTEM Alliance programming!

THANK YOU to our sponsors,  the High River Library and Staff, and of course, the volunteers who make this program happen – without you it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!

Thank you to Katrina Nibourg, P.Eng (Civil Engineer); Jen DeVries, P.Eng. (Engineering Physics/Software Engineering); Steve Hurst, P.Eng (Mechanical Engineer); and Lauren Ostridge, P.Geol. (Geologist) for your help with the program.


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