Pre-College Programs
SPARK - Science for Middle School

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Aerospace Engineering and Rocket Science - Junior SPARK

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Have you ever looked at an airplane and wanted to know how it works? Do the words; rocket, space, and satellite excite your imagination? Have you even wanted to know how NASA shoots up satellites into outer space and reach their final destination millions of miles away? Or how to build an airplane that can travel faster than the speed of sound? If these questions excite you, then this course is for you.

This exciting hands-on course (building and engineering planes and rockets!) will provide an opportunity to answer these “earth and space” engineering questions. You will gain important information necessary to understand the science of flight. You will also see the fun and ever evolving careers one can have working as an engineer in the air and space industry; from engineering airplanes, rockets and space robotics, to manufacturing nano scaled rocket propulsion systems.

Throughout this course, you will begin with learning a brief history of airplanes and an overview of flight dynamics through hands-on experiments and games. An overview of aerodynamics, wing foil (airplane wing) design, and flight control (how to control an airplane) will be provided, focusing on understanding key concepts without the complicated mathematics. Your first project will entail engineering a wooden airplane to fly true and straight through basic mathematical concepts and computer aided design programs. Next, you will gain the understanding of our solar system and space “flight” by learning about rocket propulsion (power) and satellite design. You will learn orbital mechanics and how to engineer a satellite to move and work in space without falling back to earth. Lastly, you will learn the basics of rocket science and propulsion systems, culminating in engineering your very own rocket and using rocket science to predict its trajectory (flight path).

The course will feature interactive lectures and discussions as well as hands-on experiments and three projects: from building an airplane wing, to making an “eco-friendly” rocket, to using real life orbital mechanics computer aided programs. There will fun take-home projects, a laboratory tour of a wind tunnel facility, and a visit to the material microscopy facility. You will also take field trips to an airport to see how airports work and how to engineer them. Students will tour one of the oldest and still fully functional observatories in the nation to learn how real life astronomers and aerospace engineers study space.

Prerequisites: The best pre-requisite may be a deep and genuine desire to know. There will be no required text for this course. The presentations will be prepared using a variety of sources from varied disciplines.

This course will be of particular interest to students interested in aero and/or space engineering with an objective of developing their critical thinking and analysis skills using the context of aeronautics, fluid and astro-dynamic engineering. Students are encouraged to bring their energy and excitement for this field.

*This Junior SPARK course is designed for students, 12 years and older, who are currently in the 6th and 7th grades (entering 7th and 8th grades Fall 2014). Older students are encouraged to register for our Senior SPARK courses.