Today we started out building White Wing airplanes. White Wings are specially designed paper airplanes, usually with a balsa wood fuselage. They have been engineered for amazing flight and when launched with a rubber band can stay aloft for over a minute! We built the White Wing Skycub which you can order online. The students were encouraged to alter their Skycubs by bending the elevators or ailerons to alter the aerodynamics of the airplane. Could they make it roll clockwise or counterclockwise, pitch up or down, yaw left or right?
We then went on to build balsa wood rubber band propeller airplanes. We used the Sky Streaks by Guillow. Guillow is actually a local company based in Wakefield, MA. They make lots of custom designed balsa planes for advertising your company. They have been around for almost 100 years!
In the late morning we went on a tour of the BU Robotics Helicopter lab of Professor Mac Schwagger
This is an interesting lab where they are researching autonomous quad-copter flight. You can buy a quad-copter in the mall which is controlled by joysticks. The new challenge is to have a quad-copter than can fly with nobody at the joysticks. Amazon wants to have autonomous drones which will deliver packages to your door!
In class I presented a brief lecture on aerodynamics. For this, I used a few NASA simulations. These simulations are a great way to play around and think about why airplanes work!
In the afternoon we began working on our advanced Guillow airplanes. 10 of the students chose to build the Cadet airplane, an advanced airplane which will take a few days to build. 5 of the students chose to design their own planes from the Guillow Design Studio. The designers tested their airplanes outside to see whose could stay aloft the longest period of time. They are now busy improving their design.
I also gave showed them vacation videos from my midlife crisis in zero gravity at NASA at the Houston Space Center.