Sunday, October 6, 2013

Old Timers



Old Timers Week continues here at OPOD as we look at pictures of people who outlived their times. Today's picture is a good example. I will leave it to the viewer to figure out who the man is. 

DOMESTIC UPDATE:

Most of you know that in my spare time I teach High School. I really like it, and in fact enjoy it more than any other job I have had. I am constantly amazed at how brilliant these young people are. Last year I had a chance to teach microprocessor programming to a group of Juniors. They really liked  it, but were frustrated with the constraints of the traditional school system with 50 minute class periods. This year, they petitioned the school to be given a unique schedule where they could have a class that would give them the entire afternoon uninterrupted to focus on learning some serious in depth engineering. The school accommodated, and figured out a way to give them what they were asking for, while still staying within state education rules and requirements.  So, I have the chance to have these students in as my class all afternoon. I told them that they got to pick the format and topic of the class, but I would have to agree that it was educationally worthy and challenging. 

They agreed, and they decided that they wanted to make it a Senior Project type class, and in the class they would design and build a space probe, and a lifting platform that would put the probe in space. "Near Space" is the area above our atmosphere, and it is typically designated as above 100,000 feet. They said that their space probe would be controlled by a microprocessor, would measure inside and outside capsule temperature, pressure, elevation, and would include a 9-axis inertial measurement system. The probe would also have GPS features integrated, and would include real time telemetry that would communicate with a ground station throughout the flight. The probe would also take high resolution photographs showing the blackness of space, and the curvature of the earth below.  I said it sounded good to me, and they then prepared a presentation for school administration asking for a budget to fund the space program. The administration was impressed and agreed to give them the money. I have been really impressed with how much progress they have made on this in the last six weeks. With a little luck, they might just pull this off.

In the picture below some of the students are working through some of the math. You can see the microprocessor and some of the components they are using in the electronics on the table.



15 comments:

  1. All I can say for these students is
    WOW!!!!!!!

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  2. Really cool project!! Please keep us in the loop on this.
    Graham in St. John's

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  3. Good job with the kids.

    Jefferson Davis?

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    1. Yes, Myrtle, it is Jeff Davis, later in life.

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  4. I am so impressed both with the students and with Myrtle's guessing ability! Jan

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    1. I am also really impressed that the school would accommodate such a big student request. It shows that the school is willing to take risks and think outside the box. Unusual these days.

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  5. Great photo of Jeff Davis...love it. Thanks for the update and nice job on the class you're teaching, it sounds fascinating. Keep challenging those young minds!
    -Anne K.

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  6. It is comforting to know at least some of our young people are getting a real education. Maybe there is still hope.

    Now if some of the school districts here in The People's Republic of Illinois would start teaching again.

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  7. Arduino Uno's and Nano's, and XBee RF links -- good choices for development.

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    1. Indy,
      Excellent eye! Yes, just as you say. They are prototyping the system with the Xbee Pros, but those only have a mile range, so once the system is working they will be putting in 1 Watt Digi Extend radios at 900 MHz. With proper antenna they should get 40 mile range.

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  8. Are any of your other classes working on the lifting rocket to get the altitude you want. How about a launch from someone's supercharged Bonanza at, say 10,000 feet? You might want to check with Wallops Island and see if you could tag onto one of their launches.

    All very exciting work being done by such young minds! You are one of the luckiest guys I know to get an opportunity to support these young people. Please keep us posted on your progress.

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    Replies
    1. Who said anything about a rocket? More than one way to get to that altitude. Stay tuned.

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  9. Now you really have my curiosity up! How about a hint.

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    Replies
    1. Patience, Al, you have to let the story unfold.

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  10. My guess for the lifting platform is a balloon...much less risk and expense than a rocket. You can also launch from practically anywhere.......just let the local airport know so that UFO sightings aren't in the headlines the next day.
    LOL

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