Friday at U Design

Our last day of U Design turned out to be busier than I had anticipated.  We spent the morning launching our water bottle rockets.   We had two rocket launchers.    One was a high end rocket launcher, the other a model built by professor Grace who lent it to us (again).  Several years ago, launching soda bottle rockets was easy stuff.  But in an effort to be environmentally conscious, the bottling companies have scaled back on the amount of plastic they use in their bottles.  Although the reduction of plastic does not affect the cap which goes on the bottle, it can alter the inner diameter of the bottle If the inner diameter is too large, the bottle does not make a tight fit, which unfortunately happened in several cases.  Next year, we will have to stick with Coca-Cola!

A few tips.  Some launchers use pipes of different lengths, and the deeper the pipe moves into the bottle, the higher the bottle can fly.  I have also been told that a Mentos might help the propulsion.  Here are a few links for various bottle rocket launchers.   The big launcher we used in camp was a BigFoot Launcher which is no longer made.  But BigFoot Company now makes a portable LittleFoot Water Launcher. You can buy a low end launcher from Edmunds Scientific or Arbor Scientific.  I would suggest using a bicycle pump that has a built in pressure gauge such as this one from ArborSci.  As always, wear safety goggles and be careful.

When we returned from Rocket Launching, Glynn Holt’s students gave us multiple presentations on acoustics, many of which they use to study the physics of bubbles and acoustics.  Although another area of interest has been Faraday Waves.

After lunch, we went on a tour of the Plasma Jet in professor Gevelber’s laboratory.  He develops ceramic coatings which are used to protect the inner parts of jet engines, so they must withstand incredibly hot temperatures.  They test this with a high temperature plasma beam which we got to see.

After that, I presented a brief lecture on navigation and how to read a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight map. You can buy a flight map from MyPilotStore. All of the students received a VFR flight map for the Boston Terminal area.

Our final presentation of the day was from Dane Sarconewho is the president of the BU Rocket team and just graduated from BU.  He showed an exciting video of the liquid fueled rocket which the BU Rocket Team flew several years ago, and showed the rocket which blew up on the launch pad.  Dane also is the leader of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Team  and showed the quadcopter which he built and flew down in Texas.  You should read the article on the BU ENG website about Dane and his quadcopter which was used to model bat habitats.