Anticipating Halloween, Miguel’s Science & Technology Class (2014 Oct 21) encased a plasma globe inside a foam skull. Measuring the radius of the globe, we measured back from the eye sockets to determine where to slice the skull in half. Then we carved out a spherical space inside the skull, repeatedly trying to seat the skull to determine what bits of foam impede it.

Carving the backs of the eye sockets reveals the plasma globe. From the front, one gets a deep, otherworldly view through the eyesockets to the dancing lightning within.

We also played with magnets called Buckyballs, which readily form strings and just as easily repel each other when trying to form cubes. We combined small cubes into sheets into larger cubes, learning repeatedly which configurations are unstable and, therefore prone to collapsing into undesired shapes.

Our project is making a Newton’s Cradle with bowling balls. We devised a threading pattern for the paracord that does not require cutting it and allows us to cinch it tighter if it stretches. Each of the 5 bowling balls weighs 15 pounds and the paracord is rated for 550 pounds. We will analyze how the paracord hangs off the eye-bolts to determine how much static weight it will have to support. Then we will estimate dynamic loading when the balls are swinging and hitting. The Pythagorean Theorem let us calculate the length of cord from each eye-bolt to each bowling ball. We multiplied by 2 cords going to 5 balls and added the ball-length cord running between eye-bolts to estimate a need for 90 feet. Yes, we are not using metric; the ball weights are imperial and our longest tape measure is, too. The Pythagorean Theorem allowed us to review squares and square roots.

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