Speed Engineering Expo

Hi, it’s Moose and Turtle again and we know we have not made a blog in a while but we’re back. We went to the Speed Engineering Expo at the University of Louisville and saw many cool things.

We loved the interactive exhibits. We met someone who made shoe padding that tracks the wearer’s steps and tracks what part of the shoe is used the most. That would be great for improving one’s stride if the wrong part of the shoe is wearing too fast. He made it in a hack-a-thon. Another thing we saw was the Baja racing car which was the fastest car entered in the competition. It went 45 miles per hour with a really small engine because it was so light. The transmission was made of 3-D printed plastic. They made the car completely on their own. If all cars were made with more plastic instead of metal, they would use less gas and that would be great for the environment. The Biomedical Engineering Society had a stand where we took the DNA out of strawberries. We have a couple of ideas on what to use it for, perhaps a mutant strawberry or an orangeberry? Next was an exhibit by the Society of Women Engineers. Basically it works by putting black paper in clear nail polish and water. It makes rainbow colors on the paper. It works because the nail polish is too thick for light to travel through but with water in it, light can. When you put the paper in a bit of polish comes off and makes a rainbow prism. The next activity was from the Triangle Fraternity and Phi Sigma Rho. They helped us make catapults. All that is needed is 6 craft sticks, 3 rubber bands, and a spoon. We launched mini-marshmallows with them.

Next we did three projects with the Kentucky Science Center. The first was a cup that was so small water would not fall out of it. The surface tension of the water overcame gravity. The second project was examining hydrophobic sand. If you put water on hydrophobic sand it all groups together and the sand does not get wet. Regular sand just absorbs the water and makes clumps. The final one was a vacuum that made shaving cream expand when the air was taken out and then when the air was let back in the shaving cream blew all over the container. We think it was great that the Science Center came out to the Engineering Expo for science!

We played around with obleck, a “fluid” made of equal parts of water and cornstarch. It is a non-Newtonian fluid which is something that is both a solid and a liquid. If you hit it, it is solid but if you just hold it in your hand it will ooze though your fingers because it is a liquid. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers students who showed us the obleck are looking at the possibility of making bullet-proof vests out of non-Newtonian fluid. Then we read a research poster about using Twitter to track the areas where people are sick from the flu. The project used a program that searched for key words like “flu” and “sick” on Twitter and what area the words were sent from. The research showed that Twitter could find outbreaks of the flu 2-3 weeks before the CDC and with up to 98% accuracy. We think this is great because then people in the “flu” area can be more careful to not get the flu. Next was condensed grape juice using a distillation column. It works by boiling the juice which takes out the water. That’s how you make very strong grape juice. The water that the process makes is also more pure than when it started so it would be good for cleaning water. It also can be used to make different fuels out of crude oil.

Next up is the bridge contest. In this contest, engineering students put wooden bridges that kids had made in a machine that put pressure on the bridges until they broke. The bridge that holds the most pressure wins. We think this can be used to find new kinds of strong bridges or make sure a creative bridge won’t crack under the pressure. Next was making balloon-powered cars. We made platforms and taped two straws to the bottom, slid wooden sticks into the straws and put a wooden wheel on each end of the stick. On the top Turtle taped a straw going across the platform long ways and attached a balloon to the end so he could blow through the straw and set it down and watch it go. Moose used a cup to hold the balloon up higher and he blew his balloon up and let his car go too. Turtle’s record was 13 ft. 7 in. and Moose’s was 7 ft. 11 in. River City Rocketry had a rocket-building project. We made rockets out of paper by cutting out a cone, body, and fins. Then we got to fire them out of an air propelled cannon. We found out that you have to be really careful to make sure none of the air gets out of the side of the rocket or it will blow up.

This was a really cool event and we hope you come next year. It was great that so many engineering students took a Saturday to teach kids about engineering. They showed us many things and helped us build neat stuff. We learned a lot and it was a lot of fun!

Turtle and Moose


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