Our Experiments - Overview
Since our team of Space Cowboys is mostly made up of science teachers, we devised experiments that would be useful in our own teaching during the school year. (And, in fact, the experiments were based partly on our students’ suggestions.) We also kept them simple, because … well … we figured that when we were floating in the plane with our feet above our heads and our stomachs doing somersaults, that probably wasn’t going to be the best time to be working on getting complicated equipment to work right.
Size-wise, we have to fit all of our equipment inside a NASA-supplied box about the size of a day-student locker. The total weight of our equipment has to stay under a strict limit of 40 pounds. And our equipment has to be able to withstand the stress of being repeatedly subjected to almost twice its normal weight at the bottom of each parabola. So it has to be strong … and light … and small. With all those restrictions, it’s amazing that good experiments can be done on board at all. Fortunately, one of the Space Cowboys has a background in engineering, so he was able to step us through the specs our equipment had to meet. And the equipment ended up being pretty cool as well as functional.
We take off for Houston tomorrow! Hard to believe this is really happening. I'll tell more about what we'll be doing on the Weightless Wonder in my next post from Houston.