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August 25th, 2010

Take the Floppy Flyer challenge!

The Floppy Flyer challenge came from an idea by Kids’ Science Challenge winner Olivia Smith Donovan. She noticed how maple seed pods slowly twirl to the ground and wondered if their design could be used to deliver emergency packages. Click here to learn more about Olivia.

You can create your very own flying invention, When you take the Floppy Flyer Challenge, you’ll make your own paper flyer based on nature’s design of maple seed pods. Then, you’ll test how fast your Floppy Flyer flies to the ground and write down your results. Click here to get started!

Floppy Flyer 1 Floppy Flyer 2


May 19th, 2010

Falling is Like Flying

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

Sorry I couldn’t blog sooner, but I was really busy last week.  Here’s what happened: When I got to the University of California research labs in Merced, I met Mr. Viney and we got straight to work.  I showed him a diagram of a maple seed I sketched at home.  We also looked at the flight of actual maple seed.  I had brought a baggie of maple seeds from Delaware because I thought it would be useful to have them because there are not very many in California. 

Mr. Viney drew me a diagram explaining the thrust, drag, lift, and gravity effects on a wing.  If an airplane is taking off, the lift has to be more than gravity, and thrust has to be more than drag, and vice versa for landing.  When the plane is in the air everything is about even, except the thrust is a little higher than drag so it moves forward. On a maple seed, the lift has to be a tiny bit lower than gravity because it still has to drop, but it has to drop very slowly so the seed is not harmed.  A maple seed design would be good for dropping emergency supplies because the design causes it to fall, but slowly so nothing breaks.

Mr Viney showing wing design (Photo by Roger J. Wyan)

Mr Viney showing wing design (Photo by Roger J. Wyan)

 

 

Mr. Viney, me, Chancellor Kang, my dad, and Jim from KSC (Photo by Roger J. Wyan)

Mr. Viney, me, Chancellor Kang, my dad, and Jim from KSC (Photo by Roger J. Wyan)


May 14th, 2010

Hanging Out in San Diego

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

On our free day I wanted to go to the Fleet Science Center but my dad wanted to go the Old Town Historic District from when the whole area was part of Mexico.  But, since this was a science trip and not a history trip, I won.  Besides, the science museum was in a park named after Vasco Nunez de Balboa which still makes it a little historic.

My dad and I had lunch and dinner at a Mexican restaurant that was listed as a good “dive” on a TV show we like to watch.  The window at the restaurant was painted with a large message reading “congraduation” which my dad said was for me winning the Science Challenge.  (It wasn’t!)

El Indio Restaurant

El Indio Restaurant

Fleet Science Center

Fleet Science Center


May 13th, 2010

The San Diego Zoo

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

Today we went to the San Diego Zoo’s main location and received a personal tour on a golf cart (which was really neat).   I was only about two feet from some tigers from Malaysia that were removed because people moved into their habitat, and apparently there is some sort of issue with villagers being attacked.  Anyway, I also got to feed llamas and camels which tickled.  And, no, the camels did not spit on me.

  
After the tour, we went to the polar bear exhibits where one was thrashing around in the water.  I’m concerned about polar bears in the wild because of the ice melting in their habitats with global warming.  So, I took a polar bear pledge online to reduce electricity usage and be energy wise in Delaware, because if you use more electricity, it contributes to global warming.  Around San Diego there seemed to be more of an issue with being “water wise” and all of the faucets turn off automatically.

Feeding the Camel

Feeding the Camel

There were two hippos but they both didn't fit in the shot.

There were two hippos but they both didn't fit in the shot.


May 12th, 2010

Giraffes, Rhinos and Catfish. Oh, my!

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

The Wild Animal Park was awesome.  We had a safari right through the habitats where we got to feed leaves to the giraffes.  For each foot tall they are, their tongues are an inch so they can reach leaves in trees.  And the tongues are dark so they don’t get sunburnt.  (We just put on sunblock because it was so sunny.)  We also got to see 2 types of rhinos up close although they were resting because they sleep in.

They also had a pond with food you could buy for the ducks.  But whenever people tried to feed the ducks, large mouths with whiskers would come out of the water to scoop up the pellets.  Usually with animal adaptation we mean how their bodies have changed but here catfish changed their behavior like humans in order to get food.  It must be working because they were each 2 ft long!  I know people don’t come to San Diego to look at catfish but I found them pretty interesting and we watched them for a long time.


May 11th, 2010

Arriving in San Diego

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

I hadn’t flow across the country since I was little and it was neat to see the small green farms in the east followed by the larger drying looking farms and then desert.  Our first day in California we headed to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park which is actually way up in the hills and was a nice drive on such a warm day (at least compared to Delaware).

Before we even arrived at the park, the landscape was dominated by eucalyptus trees and emu birds from Australia.  We also drove past a bunch of ostrich ranches.  There were a ton of signs for ostrich eggs, ostrich jerky and emu eggs.  But there were no signs for emu jerky.  My dad thought it was because they didn’t jerk up well but the cabby thought it was because them made them into burgers.  I was sorry I brought it up!


April 13th, 2010

Quick Hello

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

Hi. This is all new to me, so I’m just going to say this:I’m pretty exited for May.  Going to CA is going to be cool, but for now there is a lot of work to do. I will try to update this blog a few times a week. I’m going to miss a week of school, and I’m probably going to have to study a little aerodynamics.

Anyway, I think I’m supposed to write about my scientific discoveries. My Grandmother gave me a microscope for my birthday and I have been using it a bit more lately. One thing I noticed recently is that if you look at a bamboo cane slice under a microscope, and you make the light red, it looks like a field of pink and orange flowers at sunset. Up close, a mosquito’s proboscis looks like an old sausage. And a flower stem looks creepy, like a bunch of strings held together by green goop.

Talk L8er,

OG


March 29th, 2010

Olivia Smith Donovan

Olivia Smith Donovan, Bio-Inspired Designs Winner

How did you come up with your entry?
I like launching helicopter seeds from maple trees and making paper ones.  I got the idea to drop a person or food-drop package using a seed umbrella-propeller design.  It could drop faster than a parachute and could be cheaper.

Hobby: playing the trumpet

Advice to kids entering next year’s challenge?
Think of something that fits and is a big issue.

My award-winning idea: I would like to use helicopter seeds (maple tree seeds) to safely and quickly drop emergency parcels and people from great heights.

(Olivia will visit the University of California at Merced and the San Diego Zoo)

bio-artwinner