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Aerospace Need ideas for school aero project please

  1. Aug 13, 2008 #1
    i'm a masters student at the university of cape town in south africa. we are trying to encourage disadvantaged school pupils in the townships (grade 11 & 12) to become intersted in science and engineering. since we ourselves are involved in aeronautics we are looking for related project ideas where we can spend a day with the kids, teach them some theory and let them build and test something.

    i've seen plenty of parachuting eggs, but not much else. does anyone have any ideas of perhaps some kind of vehicle they can build where there are adjustable parameters (flaps, centre of gravity, ...). i'd think this sort of thing has been done before by people more ingenious than us. ideally there would be some mathematics involved where they would predict and then test, explaining inaccuracies in their predictions. or something.

    any input, suggestions, etc would be greatly appreciated. thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2008 #2
    1st year of college (aero engr) we got r/c airplanes and flew them over a known distance to find speed and using weight found the CL

    next quarter we got model rockets. using projectile motion predict altitude and motor burnout speed, then test to verify (using flight time)

    both of those were pretty fun. the r/c airplane might be out of your price range, but the rockets with a motor were like US$15 each. probably around the knowledge range of your target students too
  4. Aug 19, 2008 #3
    some ideas of cheap experiments to show aero properties and also some other just phsics ideas (I'm a graduated aero eng from Wits and am glad you guys are able to contribute to the community, kudos!) hope my post isn't too late to help out.

    Dropping different shaped objects in a water tank and measuring how long it takes them to reach the bottom. Ok, density is involved too, but you can test tear drop shapes, spheres, cones, etc. It's very visual and pretty cheap and basic. You can also explain how density of the fluid increases drag by doing similar experiments in air and comparing the results. The drag eqution is not difficult to understand and if you have a good idea of your Cd values (will be constant and dependant on shape only) you can compare results almost directly.

    Building elastic powered planes. This needs a little design work on your side and materials available.

    You know those cheap polystyrene models that you get in the little packet with the press outs and then you slide the wing through the fuselage and then clip on the little plastic prop. They usually have flaps and a rudder if i remember correctly. They fly pretty well, especially indoors, like in a school hall. These can be used to show the affects of rudders and flaps. Use prestik to change the centre of gravity. Even simpler is to get some good paper aeroplane schematics and fold your own and cut flaps and rudders.

    Model water bottle rockets are awesome and can be adjusted in a number of ways by adding fins, nose cones, more water or less water, more pressure or less pressure, etc etc. You just need one or two launch pads with a sealing and launch system with a bike pump and lots of empty coke bottles, plastic, glue, cardboard and a supply of water. The internet has tons of bottle rocket resources. Also good for competition as you can compete for the furthest distance (this also teaches about projectile motion ie. angles of launch)

    Because aeroydynamics and flight dynamics are complexer subjects and covered mainly in later years of university, the theory might not be so interesting, but obviously, I think your Aero theme is cool! :approve:
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