Saturday, November 6, 2010

Science Moves Indoors

We're bracing ourselves for significant change in our daily routine. My son Ryan has accompanied me on most of my wildflower and bug photography outings during the summer and fall colors sessions recently. All the while, when we get home he usually goes to the garage and works on his various science and engineering projects. But the wildflowers are mostly gone, the deciduous trees have mostly shed, and the garage is getting pretty cold. So, Ryan's thoughts have turned to building a waste oil heater for the garage. Photos of a prototype are above. Being an under-funded scientist, like Thomas Edison, Ryan has become adept at salvaging parts from discarded appliances and electronic devices and various discarded containers from recycling bins. The burner above is mostly a tomato juice can inside a paint can and the oil is coming in through black hose from a partially hidden reservoir. Extra oxygen is supplied by a salvaged fan. Besides heating the garage during winter, Ryan has other kinds of furnaces in mind for melting metals and casting various items. The top two photos were taken in my geometry class where Ryan shares his expertise in paper crafts, especially in modular origami. Skill with paper crafts can lead to all sorts of other useful skills - home repair, art projects - and launch careers in construction or engineering.
In the top photo, students discover that if you tie a simple overhand knot in a thin strip of paper and carefully tighten it, you get a perfect pentagon. After a series of additional folds and a final tuck, the pentagon can be "puffed out" into a solid - see the pile of colorful ones on the table. The talented hands on the right belong to students Amelia Beck and Jasmin Martinez. In the next photo down student Damien Boudreau works with Ryan to build various modular origami figures and a series of Platonic solids.

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