with Ed Insel
Current events this week again were very interesting. One student briefed us on the oil spill that happened this week in Houston when two barges collided, and another brought us the story of pitbulls that escaped and killed another group of dogs (you’d be surprised at how many engineering ideas came up for this one!). I added the recent discovery that satellites we already have in space can measure the amount of photosynthesis (and thus CO2 uptake) occurring on Earth. Amazing it took us so long to realize this! This led the whole group to consider the related fields of engineering: navigation, marine, chemical, environmental, aerospace, data analysis, agriculture, radio, signal-processing, and climate.
We continued our work on solar energy. I demonstrated and explained fluorescence using long-wave UV light and different minerals. We then tied it into the core idea of photovoltaics: a photon of light with the right energy can free an electron from special materials and cause an electrical current to flow. If you ask your student what the key takeaway was from this session, their answer should be something like “particles of light that hit an electron can push it over the energy hump.” The kids continued working on various projects from their kits, and some students began working on a more sophisticated solar demonstrator.
Homework for Next Session
The next two current event volunteers should choose a current social topic and be prepared to explain 1) the topic they chose and 2) the role that science plays in it.
Read this article from DiscoverE on reasons for pursuing a career in engineering.
Start thinking about your semester-end projects or particular areas you’d like to explore. Don’t panic – you don’t have to pick one yet! We’re going to talk about the project guidelines at our next session.