In 2013, responding to California state plans for a high-speed rail line connecting Northern and Southern California, SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk called for engineering teams to create something called a Hyperloop. His idea: build a vacuum tube transport system that can travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. It’s a pod that travels in a low pressure tube with air and magnets causing it to move at at 760 mph. You wouldn’t lie down in it; you’d sit up in it like a passenger on an airplane.
Part of the technology was tested in the Nevada desert in May by a startup called Hyperloop One. It took 1.1 second to go a mile. It was just a model of the Hyperloop, a prototype with a 10-foot sled on the back.
The full model prototype will be done by the end of the year, and tested on a longer stretch of track. The May test didn’t have brakes figured out, and they drove into sand to stop it. A bunch of teams are helping to work on it.
“I’d like to travel in it one day. My grandma lives in LA; it’d be fun to travel there in 30 minutes,” says Brandon.
The New Horizons space probe recently passed by Pluto. It was launched from Cape Canaveral in 2006 and has been traveling for 9.5 years to get to Pluto. It goes really, really fast. It went to Pluto to get lots of information and data about Pluto. Pluto has been a super-unexplored dwarf planet! It’s smaller than our moon and not big enough to be called a regular “planet.” New Horizons is still going. It passed Pluto in just three minutes. Pluto is over four light hours away from earth. Pictures took that long to get back to earth.
What kind of news is this? Extra-terrestrial and international news.
From where did you get this news? Time for Kids and NASA.
An asteroid nicknamed the “Spooky Asteroid” whizzed close by earth on the night of October 30th and into Halloween morning. That’s why it’s nicknamed “spooky.” Even though it is 1,300 feet wide, we had to use telescopes to see it. Scientists didn’t even know about the asteroid specifically until early October. It passed by earth, close for an asteroid, but still kind of far away. I wonder if it might go to a different plant after earth. It might leave its orbit.
Ed Walters issued the first STEAM challenge of the school year at September 14th’s morning meeting with a contest to have the Alta Vista teachers compete against each other in a Theremin Playing Contest. The teachers were set to compete against each other by playing either Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Mary Had a Little Lamb in a greatly anticipated concert showdown.
So how does STEAM –the acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics — relate to a Theremin, an electronic musical instrument whose tone is generated by high-frequency oscillators? While seemingly wacky — think B-movie flying saucer sound effect — “The experiment of the Theremin is an interaction between the human and technology: people are sticking their hands right into technology and having technology talk back to us,” says Walters.
On September 21st, Ed Walters continued the Theremin lesson by demonstrating how sound waves travel by conducting an experiment with wires and a couple of buckets. The takeaway from that morning meeting was that sound travels at 760 mph, regardless of high or low pitch, softer or louder, higher or lower sounds.
While the sound wave demonstration was gripping and educational, the student body anxiously awaited the teacher’s Theremin concert which happened on Friday, October 16th when the music teacher Julie Bruins played a version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and admitted that the Theremin was the hardest instrument she had ever learned to play.
Ms. Bruin also revealed that the Theremin’s origin came “from the days of Russian spies who were trying to make a land-based sonar device to detect when people were sneaking about, but, instead, Leon Theremin created the world’s first electronic instrument.”
Science researcher and AVS father Henry lit up – or shall we say “deflated and inflated” — a recent morning meeting with a liquid nitrogen experiment involving balloons.
Here’s what he did. Henry put on safety goggles. Behind a Plexiglas window, he took a tall canister filled with liquid nitrogen and poured some into a smaller, metal container. Next, Henry took an inflated pink balloon and slowly fed it into the smaller container. What happened? Check out the video: Balloon Experiment Video_AVSfall2015
It looked like the container sucked the air out of the balloon! It deflated. When Henry took the balloon out of the canister with a pair of tongs…it re-inflated!!
He asked the room full of kids, “Is this science, or is this magic?” They shouted, “Science!”
What happened? It turns out the air was still inside the balloon when the balloon was in the canister. The liquid nitrogen cooled the air in the balloon so much that the balloon collapsed. Why does this happen? It’s all about the compression of gasses — and the expansion of gasses at different temperatures. In this case, the air pressure on the balloon remained the same. And the number of molecules of gas in the balloon remained the same. What changed was the liquid nitrogen lowered the space that gas took up inside the ballon because it cooled the gas so much.
After a large round of applause, the kids shouted, “Let’s see it again!”