By Taylor Meyer
As part of our outreach program, the Science Center of Iowa located in Des Moines, IA asked us to present an activity to show the kids how space, robotics, and engineering play important roles in our club. We came with a very simple activity — balloons and pennies. Since every kid loves balloons (except the popping!) we had the kids put a single penny inside of a balloon. We then challenged the students to keep the penny moving after shaking and rotating the balloon as much as they needed. The balloons allowed for light to shine through, so the penny is easily visible.
Once the girls got the penny spinning, we then explained to them how this worked. The penny wants to keep moving in a straight line, however the balloon is keeping it rotating in a circular motion. We could then scale this demonstration up and act as if the Sun was in the center of the balloon, and the penny was the Earth, orbiting around the sun. In addition to bringing the demonstration, we also brought our competition robot, along with a computer that played videos of our robot during competition.
We reached about 300 students at this event, which shows how excited we are to help the younger generation get interested in science, engineering and space! We have formed a wonderful relationship with the Science Center and continue going to outreach events hosted by their program.