Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer 2013: Day 8

Ryan Fitzgerald explaining how to test the different blocks
We continued our discussion of temperature this morning. Ryan Fitzgerald came in and did an activity on how we sense temperature. Using cubes the same size but made of different materials, we had to determine which one was the coldest. The metal one felt the coldest, but after doing some measurements, all three blocks (wood, plastic and metal) were the same temperature. The teachers also played with amazing ice melting blocks, one made of wood and one of metal. It was amazing watching one block melt the ice so much faster than the other block.
Working together to make temperature measurements
Waiting for the temperature to stabilize.
Watching the ice melt.
These measurements also induced a conversation about measurement standards. It was noticed that the value changed after multiple measurements of the same block. Rob asked what the procedure was for measuring temperature at NIST. Ryan talked about isolating the one variable that was changing as much as possible. He also talked about using two sets, two probes and then take averages of the differences in measurements. It is amazing to think about all the different ways we inadvertently affect the measurements we do.
Sam Ho showing the proving rings.
After the temperature time, we had a few minutes to go over the lessons and take a break before splitting off into the two tours. Half the group went to the ballistics testing facility and half to the million pound force machine. The million pound force machine group got lost for a little bit, but eventually, we made it to the facility. Sam Ho gave us a great tour of the different machines and talked about how important it was to measure forces. He showed us a proving ring, which deforms under weight and can be used to precisely measure force. He then gave us pennies that were crushed with 30,000 pounds of force.
Playing with the proving rings.
The weights for the million pound force machine. They each weigh 50,000 lbs.
Testing out the crushed pennies.
After lunch, the SPS interns came back and had a circuit building session. Everyone got to put together a light sensitive theramin and test it out. After a little frustration and some trial and error, almost everyone got their parts to work! It is always exciting when something works out.
Carolyn and Ben talking about Mass Spec
The final activity of the day was mass spectronomy with Carolyn Burdette and Ben Place. They gave an overview of mass spectrometry and how it sorts particles based on mass. A similar activity can be done with water balloons and a slingshot. After weighing the water balloons and measuring the distance they flew, a celebrated curve can be drawn. The curve can then be used to determine the mass of other water balloons which had gone specific distances when launched. It was a really good demonstration for a fairly complicated piece of technology and a really fun way to end the day.
Launching the balloons.
Reporting the results.

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