Blazers in Physics had an exciting day on Wednesday April 6 at I-Fly in Rosemont. Students participated in I-Fly’s STEM program learning about the aerodynamics of sky diving and the engineering of a wind tunnel.
The program begins with a lecture and discussion of STEM concepts related to the wind tunnel. Students discuss basic ideas of fluid dynamics, and learn how fluids exert pressure forces on objects. They discuss the different forces at work in the wind tunnel, and how changing the shape or “frontal area” of an object will affect its speed in the wind tunnel. Students are led through an exercise to derive the equation for “terminal velocity” (the air velocity required to “fly” the object). Students are also introduced to engineering careers and how engineers use wind tunnels to test their designs.
Students had to predict her own terminal velocity in the wind tunnel. In other words, how fast must the air in the wind tunnel move to make each student “float”? The students used algebraic reasoning to solve the air drag equation for “v”. The groups then used measuring tapes and scales to determine their weight and frontal area. During their flights, an instructor recorded their actual terminal velocities. Afterwards, the students compared their actual velocities to their predicted values.
Students were given flight instruction by a certified flight instructor, including an individual flight experience in the iFLY tunnel.
The girls had so much fun and really enjoyed learning to fly!
“That was the most educational field trip I’ve ever been on. All the math, made sense!” Janet Recendez