Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Wind Tunnel (updated)

Science Fair is on Friday. My students are frantically finishing up their projects. Most of my science plans have been put on hold until next week.

I have a 7th grade student who is really interested in airplanes and flight. This gives me an opportunity to dust off my classroom wind tunnel and let this particular student gather some data on various wing designs for his science fair project.

I built my first classroom wind tunnel in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the Wright brother's flight at Kitty Hawk. A travel version model of the first generation wind tunnel was presented at the 2005 NSTA national convention in Dallas, TX. It was there I met Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and I was able to give him a private presentation of some of my projects. He liked what he saw.
He liked the idea and the design. He encouraged me to build a second generation.

This wind tunnel was built around late 2005 or 2006 by me and one of my high school students. This second generation wind tunnel has a couple neat features like the external lever system and separate test chamber. The main body and test chamber is made from sheets of polystyrene, but unlike the first tunnel, the suspension system, as mentioned above, is external and made from balsa wood. The models inside are attached to the suspension via PVC plastic drinking straws.

It works pretty good but of course there is always room for improvement. Right now it only measures lift, and I still want to build a system to measure the drag force on the model. I've made prototype models of a drag system that I think will work pretty well, but just need to get around making it from balsa.

Some day I'll get around to making a 3rd generation.

No comments: