Monday, 15 July 2013

Day Three - Rocketry and Ablative Shielding

Wow, today we made our rockets. Using an easy assemble kit, we built our rockets, then using spray paint, decorated them. Obviously I coloured my rocket in gold and green to represent Australia! I Can’t wait to blast them off in the next few days.

This was followed by robotics! I love robotics – these little guys can be programmed to do so much in the classroom. We only had a short time with them, but a great resource for all classrooms.

I then met Ed Buckbee, who was a NASA public affairs officer during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, and a spokesman for the early astronauts and the Apollo moonwalkers. He has been involved in the space program for over 50 years……and continues to work with the Space Camp educating students and teachers in awe of the fact that one of those little people will be on the Mars one day.

We then had to prepare an ablative shield for our little egg against a butane burner. Sadly our little egg-stronaut did not make it. Having a choice of several types of materials, we could choose items which cost possible points, such as copper mesh, sponge, cork, spack filler, aluminium foil etc. Unfortunately our shield did not work, and our egg paid the price! But some shields did work.

Another physical activity…..this time on the zip line flying 30 feet down into the water, I was first up, a bit scared, which soon turned to shaking fear when I realised I was going backwards! I screamed most of the way down, a lot of fun, but glad to be in the water. This was followed by a simulated helicopter sea crash. Luckily I survived this…..several times!

Now a question......How many people have stepped on the moons surface?

Our ablative shield being tested....sadly our egg didn't make it!

NXT Robots - From Legos's Mindstorm 

The stories that Ed Buckbee can tell you about all the astronauts!

Preparing for crash landing!

With fellow educator, after riding the Zip Line.


  1. From Lienna: Not that many people have actually set foot on the moon; I would guess at less than half a dozen, and I don't think the Russians ever landed.

  2. Actually, there are twelve. All American. Sadly the last trip was Harrison Schmitt's in Apollo 17 - December, 1972 - which means that there has not been a landing for over 40 years. However - China's first lunar rover, is expected to launch in 2013. A manned expedition may occur in 2025-2030, so far the USA has no intention of sending any more Astronauts to the moon. BUT, they do have their sights on Mars or even an Asteroid.

  3. Hi Mrs Butler,
    5.3 again, we have just read this blog and Sophie H and Harry our new boy guessed that there were twelve astronauts that have landed on the moon.
    Aaliyah was wondering if you can bring some robotics to show us at Unity.
    Sophie Barwick wants to know what an ablative shield is.
    Sam wants to know if you would do the zipline again or the crash helicopter simulation.
    Have you had a lot of fun is something Jaymin was wondering.
    Were you strapped into the pretend helicopter Jack is curious to know.
    Finally we all want you to know the State of Origin is on and 23 of us hope QUEENSLAND win and 4 are going for NSW. We will let you know the result!!! Go QLD!!!!!
    From 5.3 and Mrs Poncini (Unity College)

  4. Hi 5.3 - Glad to hear from you.
    Well done to Sophie H and Harry. Aaliyah I would love to show you these robots, they are brilliant.

    Aaliyah, when I come to visit you in term 4 I will make sure I bring them, you will have so much fun with them.

    Sophie B, (Hope you had a great time in England!) the ablative shield is to protect the bottom of the capsule as it re-enters the Earths atmosphere. These capsules come back down to Earth at a great speed - so clever NASA engineers created an ablative heat shield which consisted of a layer of plastic resin, the outer surface of which is heated to a gas then carries the heat away by convection. This then protects both the capsule and the Astronauts.

    The Zipline was fun - but I had not realised that I was going to go down backwards! So there was a lot of screaming going on! (I think I out did the screaming today though!). I would do it again, but sadly there was not enough time - our days here are really action packed! The helicopter simulation crash I think I managed to do about 3 times - I had a lot of fun with that, even pretending to be a pilot!

    Jaymin, don't tell the university this, but I am having so much fun, its not like work at all! Today was brilliant - I did some of the fun training that astronauts actually do. Just like the Astronauts I really really enjoyed it. These guys had a blast! The famous Astronauts that we all know such as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Adrin (Yes, Buzz Lightyear was named after him!) were all pilots, but now they are looking for astronauts who are scientists, engineers, and even teachers! Yes Mrs Poncini - teachers! The really interesting news is that right now, anyone one of you could be an astronaut, working in space or on Mars. How exciting is that!

    Jack, I was not strapped in during the helicopter crash, and quiet honestly it was not that scary! Today I faced my greatest fear and successfully completed the task. I will let you know about that one tomorrow.

    Yes I know the State of Origin is on, there are 6 other Aussies with me, and sadly I am the only one going for the Blues! It looks to be a very interesting game!

    So for those small few of us.....GO BLUES!

    I only have two more blogs left, so if you want me to ask an engineer, scientist or even an Astronaut any questions you have the next couple of days to think of them. Remember I leave on Thursday.

    This has been an unforgettable experience!


Any questions or comments that you would like to share......