MBMS Science Olympiad Hovercraft Project 2016-2017

 

This is just a quick outline of how I put together a prototype hovercraft for the MBMS Science Olympiad. The prototype is made from PVC foam board, 0.125 in thickness. The example pictures are done in light poster board for ease of use.

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Below are the steps taken to create the hovercraft.

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The two small triangles are to used as support braces at the base of the motor assembly.

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The above picture shows the shunt positioned between the side wall assembly.

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Above: This view shows the pin-hole locations and the shunt. By placing a pushpin through the side holes on both walls, you can adjust the angle of the shunt. The position of the shunt controls how much air is forced downwards for lift, and backwards for propulsion.

prototype-hovercraft

Revisiting the original prototype picture, we can clearly see the shunt assembly with the push-pins in place determining the appropriate angle of the shunt for the hovercraft. This angle position was achieved by ‘trial and error’. Testing the shunt position in combination with the selected propeller and motor speed, took just a few minutes.

hovercraft-skirt

The hovercraft skirt can be made of many types of material. I chose to use a simple plastic bag seal on both ends. Marking out where the shunt opening would be on the plastic skirt, I used a razor blade to cut the plastic completely through the top and bottom layers. Using double back tape, I centered and attached the plastic bag to the bottom of the hovercraft.

 

 

This was a quick mock-up of the prototype seen above. Braces, attaching of the shunt, etc., are all variables. Meaning, you must test to see what positions and angles work best for your particular hovercraft. Remember to keep everything on centerline as best as possible and to take into consideration the balance of your craft. Make adjustments as necessary. Most importantly, have fun!

MBMS Science Olympiad study sheets are provided below. Please check them out. (courtesy Ms. Stacy)

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Cool video! Enjoy!

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Hobby and special projects…

Here are a few examples of craft projects and other items I’ve done.

This is a license plate I machined using MasterCam to generate the program. It’s machined from 6061 aluminum and and painted glossy black. The machined logo (Mensa) was masked off to preserve the machining tool path marks. The plate now adorns the front of my Audi Quattro A4.  🙂

 

A few years ago I was just sitting around, kind of bored. The thought occurred to me that I should build a combination bookshelf/wine rack to house some of my antiquarian books, and my small collection of wines. This shelf combination was the result.

 

After completing the shelf, it looked unfinished… something was missing. I needed something to adorn the top… I sketched out a rough idea of what I wanted to sculpt and then made a wire frame to form the foundation of the piece.

 

Finished piece.

 

Sometimes it’s just fun to create totally useless stuff. Here’s a hotdog roller for my BBQ grill.

 

My latest project (October 2017) is a plague doctor masque. Not quite finished but close…

Now the mask is completed!

 

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How Some Fellow Mensans View Mentioning IQ…

Obviously I’m not alone in my ongoing dilemma as to when, if at all, to mention my membership in Mensa. It always felt a bit awkward, and maybe I dreaded the possibility, that someone would think me pretentious or an arrogant ass for even mentioning the fact. When is it OK to let it be known? Should you even put it on your resume? If so, does that put you in ‘bad light’ in the eyes of a potential employer? If you don’t reference it on your resume, could you possibly be sabotaging your chances of securing a job that requires logical reasoning and high intelligence? Just where do you draw the line? And, if you were to put it on your resume, or bring it up during the interview process, just how would you do so?

Try looking at it from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re applying for a job that receives numerous applicants for the same type of job. Your degree is probably no different from dozens of others being considered. What sets your resume apart from all the others? The fact that you may have a Masters instead of Bachelors? Or, a Doctorate instead of a Masters? What about if your degree is from a prestigious university and not a local community or state college?  As an applicant, wouldn’t you want to stress where you were educated and the level of your education? And maybe, if you are just entering the job market, you’d want to point out your GPA or making the Dean’s List? Aren’t these the things a potential employer would want to know? I mean, if I’m looking to hire the best qualified applicants for a position, wouldn’t I then want the most ‘bang’ for my buck, so to speak? The answer should be obvious, right?

Why is it considered ‘bad form’ to mention your IQ? Are professional athletes ridiculed for being good at what they do? When was the last time someone said “Hey, you don’t have to excel at so-and-so! Show-off!” to an MLB, NFL, NBA player or other professional athlete? Athletes are highly regarded in their particular sport… so why aren’t highly intelligent people viewed in a similar light?

Below are a few comments gleaned from a recent discussion among fellow Mensans on a private FaceBook thread. Even among ourselves, we struggle with answering this question. The question asked was “Is a Mensa membership something to be proud of?”

Response #1: The profoundly stupid can do things we can not do… This guy I work with amazes me with his stupidity every day… But he should be ashamed in the same way I am proud … But he is way too stupid to realize he is stupid.

Response #2: It’s something I’m proud about – not to an obscene level, but I am proud of my brains just as much as I am proud of my good singing voice. It’s no better or worse than other people are proud of their good looks or ability to play sports well (neither of which I can claim).

Response #3: We have a right to be proud of whatever it is we are good at doing – be it something physical, mental, whatever. There is nothing wrong with that.

Response #4: It just sucks because saying you’re proud of doing a sport is cool but once you bring up intelligence you’re immediately seen has being condescending

Response #5: Perhaps – but that’s their problem. Someone feeling that I am condescending by mentioning I am proud and happy to be a Mensan makes me sad. I don’t feel it’s condescending when someone tells me they are a great dancer just because I have two left feet and dance like a drunken hippo.

Response #6: The question was – is Mensa Membership something to be proud about. And I think someone can be as proud of their innate intelligence as someone can be about any other innate ability. Sure – not every Mensa member lives up to their complete potential. I know I don’t. But I think that being smart enough to qualify is something that I can be proud about.

Response #7: I disagree that qualifying for Mensa is innate. If Usain Bolt never left his couch and ate Big Macs nine times a day, his potential would be the same but his actual time in the 100 meters would be sometime next Tuesday. Standardized tests show a significant training effect and a love of reading and learning is a common trait among our cohort. So, yes, most of us worked to get this smart, and could be proud of it. However, it is often more politic not to be too loud about our memberships because no one likes a smarty pants.

Response #8: I remember that my best test was my GREs, where I scored 2200+. I showed my scores to all my profs, and the first words out of my chemistry professor was, “I didn’t think you were that smart.”

Response #9 (my personal favorite): People will judge you negatively for being intelligent.

Mostly, I think, because they feel threatened.

Because intelligence is not immediately obvious–the way other characteristics can be.

Virtually no one will feel bad about not being a professional athlete. So they can laud that ability in others without feeling personally inferior.

No one, in my experience, thinks they aren’t smart. Until the person they least expect turns out to be demonstrably more intelligent than they are. They don’t expect it, and thus feel threatened. So, to mitigate that feeling, they react negatively.

You should be proud of your intelligence. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves because they’re a few standard deviations above normal.

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So, let me ask a question. Should it be considered bad form to mention your membership in an high IQ society?

If you’re currently employed and happy in your job, how do you think your boss would react to finding out you were a Mensan? Do you think that could be a roadblock to your advancing within the company? Would your boss and fellow co-workers likely feel threatened?

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How life on Earth started…

This is a wonderfully informative and well done video explaining the formation of Earth and how life here began. Enjoy!

 

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Orlando Shooting

On June 12th, 2016… Omar Mateen went into a gay bar in Orlando, Florida and killed 49 people… wounded another 53. Mateen was a registered democrat and a muslim. But do you think the media and our illustrious president called this a terrorist attack? No, they refuse to use the term. Instead they doubled down and blamed the United States and then called for more restrictions of our 2nd amendment.

We’ve become a nation of idiots being led by fools.

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Could this be a possibility?

This election cycle, for lack of better words, has been very unusual. Sure, both Parties are consumed by the typical infighting we’ve all become accustomed to seeing, but there’s also a growing undercurrent at work here.

I remember the days of Ross Perot dividing the Republican Party and helping to cause the election of Bill Clinton. The Democrats just loved that. Then came along Ralph Nader a few years later and did the same to Al Gore. Wasn’t as funny to the Dems then. But the Republicans loved it! Now comes along Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is threatening to split the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. I think it is safe to say that Trump is no conservative. Hell, he’s no RINO either. If I had to define Trump politically, I’d call Trump a populist. Trump is smart, he’s not running as an independent. Trump knows a third party candidate faces a near insurmountable political climb to the presidency. Make no mistake… the Republican Party has no love for Trump. The current Republican establishment is full of RINOs. That said, Trump’s best chance is to run as a Republican.

For many years now, people have felt they’re not being represented by our entrenched two-party system. That sentiment has given rise to the occasional independent candidate. Independent candidates fail. Trump appeals to this group of voters. He’s as ‘anti-establishment’ as a candidate can get. He owes no political favors to any party and cannot be bought. He’s a maverick and a successful businessman. Love him or hate him, Trump is Trump.

This is my prediction. I believe Trump will win the Republican Party nomination. In the general election he’ll take away a lot of Democrat votes to win the presidency in a landslide. It’ll look like the Reagan-Carter election results all over again.

What I hope will happen: After Trump gains the presidency, he leaves the Republican Party and establishes a new Populist Party. The new Populist Party forces both the Democrat and Republican Parties to put forth candidates who appeal to the American people. The subsequent election cycle will be the first modern three-party election.

Will a Trump win eventually lead to elections being won by popular vote? I hope so.

Posted in Politics, Random thoughts... | 1 Comment

Our universe is amazing!

Everyday things we tend to take for granted… the warmth of the sun, our own moon, and even the jewelry we wear. All of these things are the result of physics that started billions of years ago and is continuing on today. From the Big Bang to the collapse of stars… our universe is constantly changing and creating new stars, solar systems, and worlds.

Galaxy-background

From the death of stars, the potential for life is born. Stars are in a constant tug-of-war battle. The exploding fusion reaction of a star is in a delicate balancing act against the immense gravity crushing down on the star’s core. Eventually, gravity wins out in this epic struggle. The death of a star occurs when gravity keeps compressing and creating heavier and heavier elements within its core. Once a star creates the element iron at it’s core, the death of the star has begun. Iron stops the fusion reaction occurring within the star. In a matter of  seconds, the star goes super-nova, gravity finally overtakes the fusion reaction and the star collapses. This collapse happens so suddenly, the inner core literally turns inside out, changing places with the outer perimeter of the star. As the star explodes, spewing matter hundreds of millions of miles into space, heavier elements are created… among these are silver, gold, and platinum. The light emitted from the super-nova briefly outshines an entire galaxy. This burst of radiation can send exploding material at a velocity about one-tenth the speed of light. The mass that’s left after the collapse of a super-nova is called a neutron star. They are the smallest and densest stars known in the universe.

So, as you go about your daily routines… take a moment to reflect upon all that is around you. The sun, waging a constant war against gravity… will one day die. Life on Earth, made possible with water molecules emitted from stars and carried to Earth via comets… our moon, the result of a long ago collision of Theia with Earth… gave us tides which helps in the cycles of life on our planet. Life, our world, and the jewelry we wear… all came about from the death of stars.

Posted in Random thoughts..., Things that make you go 'Hmmm'? | 3 Comments

Always thinking…

It seems, even if my outward life is quite stable and consistent, my thoughts are always evolving. They’re constantly in flux. Why I believe the things I do and how I view my world are reevaluated on a regular basis. Recently, that reevaluation has preoccupied a good portion of my ‘quiet hours’… time that I take for myself after the responsibilities of the day are done.

I’ve always been amazed about the physical world around me. Learning leads to questions, and the subsequent answers, to ever more questions. It’s a vicious cycle. The complexities of our world and the makeup of our universe, in all of its awe-inspiring variations, are truly a wonder to behold. It’s easy to assign these wonders to an all powerful entity… God. But, is it… really? I mean, is there a God?

Evolution

I believe in what is scientifically provable… what is logical. For me, in order for God to exist, God would have to be able to defy all the laws of physics during and after the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago. Also, it is estimated that there are 10 trillion galaxies in the universe… Why then, have we humans of Earth, been singled out by any God for ‘salvation’? And why humans? Why not another species? We’re just the latest in a long line of animals to exist on Earth. Were it not for the death of dinosaurs, humankind most likely would never have had the opportunity to rise up to become the dominant species currently at the top of the evolutionary food chain.

Something to ponder…

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It’s kinda funny, really…

It should come as no surprise to my closest friends and family… I’m a far right leaning conservative. I’m laughing as I write. Why? Because I strongly believe in the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers intended when the United States gained its freedom from our English masters. And, by the standards of many today, that’s considered ‘far right’. The general public has no idea about the basics concerning our country or Constitution. Their ignorance is pitiful.

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Here are a few items commonly not known by most Americans.
1. There isn’t a separation of church and state written into our Constitution. There is a clause that restricts the government out of religion, but it isn’t a two way clause.
2. The Constitution is a rigid document, not a ‘living’ document that could be interpreted differently over time. If it were a ‘living’ document, there wouldn’t be a need for the amendment process.
3. The three branches of government are not all equal. Our Constitution only grants the Supreme Court two powers; original jurisdiction and the setting up of lesser courts.
4. The Supreme Court  (SCOTUS) does not have the power to judge any law unconstitutional. In the decision of Marbury v Madison (1803), the SCOTUS grabbed the power of ‘judicial review’. Since that time, the SCOTUS has abused their illegally gotten power to create law and rule on the constitutionality of laws.
5. The amendment process allows for the changing of our Constitution. The 2nd amendment cannot be changed. Why? Because it contains the language ‘shall not be infringed’. But that hasn’t stopped laws from being created that restrict, deny, and limit who can or cannot own/possess firearms.
6. The common misconception is that the Civil War was over slavery. Simply not true. http://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

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