Thursday, November 10, 2011

General Science: The Right Stuff

This week the kids were charged with designing a spacesuit that could withstand the intensely high temperatures one might find on Venus. Lacking the funding to actually travel to Venus and not wanting to violate the Helsinki Declaration,* we used ice-pops instead of people and hot water instead of Venus. The kids made spacesuits using one of three available materials: tin foil, wax paper, and bubble wrap. Once outfitted with their spacesuits, each ice pop was submerged in a pot of boiling water for one minute. For comparison we also had a control ice pop, meaning an ice pop with no space suit. After a minute the kids opened up each ice-pop and measured how much of it had melted by pouring the liquid into a graduated cylinder. Of the 3 materials, bubble wrap was the best insulator.

*ethical principles for research on human subjects

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