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Interesting Miscellany

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From model ships for high school engineering challenges and boat design, there is a miscellaneous category here for you!

Model Cargo Boats for High School Engineering Challenges
The Baltimore Museum of Industry promotes Engineering Challenges for middle and high school students. I have been the leader for several home school groups over the years and the most enjoyable challenge is the cargo ship. Here students will design and build a model cargo ship about 4 feet long using an old windshield wiper d.c. electric motor. The point is to move as much "cargo" (pine sticks), sometimes as much as 50 lbs, around a track buoyed in the Baltimore inner harbor. I have written a design and build guide for students describing the necessary systems, but also how to make hulls out of epoxied-soaked cardboard.

Click here to download my guide on designing model cargo ships for engineering challenges



cargofront 2boat models

ships iso
greytug origami hull
I developed this technique over some weeks to help out my students.  It starts with making your design on (or with) paper!

Global Warming and Sea Level Rise Calculations

I have made simple Earth temperature models where people can see for themselves the variables involved.  Too many people are quick to focus on a single variable in this question, and then say "ah-ha!" to justify their own preset opinions when they see a single piece of evidence.  If we lived in a single-variable world all this would be easy, but we don't and it's not.   I also have done calculations to show the possible magnitude of sea level rises if either the Greenland or Antarctic ice cap were to melt.  Arctic ice doesn't count for sea level rise because it is already in the water displacing volume.  Continental ice is not sitting in the water, so when it melts it does add to ocean volume and therefore sea level rise.  My own brother who had been in the Navy told me he thought it was impossible, because he has seen the vastness of the ocean and it was inconceivable that anything could change sea levels.  Well we know that is very possible just from the changes produced by the last ice age where levels went way down and allowed human migration from Asia to the Americas, and from Asia to Australia.  After I showed him the simple high school math proving the easy possibility of sea level change, he conceeded his former opinion was not based on having all the facts, but was overly influenced by radio talk show personalities.  His "beliefs" are now replaced by facts, at least on this topic.

Click here to download the pdf file with the global warming calculations

Click here to download the pdf file with the sea level rise calculations

People also do not realize the level of destruction that is happening with our oceans.  The waves still look the same, it still looks blue, but beneath the surface wholesale destruction is happening.  Everyone needs to get involved even if only from the self-interest point of view; humans need the oceans.  A very famous oceanographer Sylvia Earle is leading the battle to save our oceans; please see the Mission Blue documentary and visit the web site:

Mission-Blue web site

Software for Designing Boat Hulls: ConicBoatLoft4

I have made a boat shape lofting software package that shapes boat hulls with conic sections. It is a bit outdated in terms of operator ease (I programmed this many years ago when my skills were not as developed), and I don't have the time to update it!

Click here to download the zip file for the setup program for ConicBoatLoft 

Software for Solar Shadows

If you need to illustrate solar shadows from a stick (gnomon), or need to know the position of the sun at any time of day or month, or would like to see where on the globe the sun is directly overhead, then this program is for you! Useful for middle and high school science teachers.

Click here to download the SolarShadow setup program

Software for Eye Optics Ray Tracing

Want to see how light refracts in the human eye to produce a focused spot?  Well download this program and put on different eye glass prescriptions, and use different wave length light to see how focused a spot can be on the retina!  Unfortunately I did not over complicate this with astigmatism; only spherical aberations.

Eye optics model
Click here to download the EyeOptics 3D setup program

Spacecraft Deployable Structures Presentation

I taught the mechanical systems portion of a spacecraft design class at University of Maryland, a graduate-level aerospace engineering class for several years.  I had made a Deployables Compendium to show the many types of mechanism structures developed over the years.

Click here to visit the U of M site where the presentation is available


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