Aerospace engineering is one of the most fascinating branches of engineering. Aerospace engineers focus on the development of technologies that fly both above and below the earth's atmosphere. This means they must know the design, construction, and the science behind the forces and physical properties of rockets, parachutes, aircraft and other spacecraft like satellites. How exciting!
Each team of fifth graders completed their spacecraft design, suited for a specific planet! Because engineers must communicate with others, fifth grade engineers shared their designs with other teams of engineers. Fifth graders gave feedback to one another. Great work fifth grade!
As fifth graders learn more about aerospace engineering, they are focusing specifically on each of the planets that an aerospace engineer could design a spacecraft for. Since each planet has distinguishing features, a spacecraft suited for Venus would not be as ideal to travel on Jupiter. That's because Venus' atmosphere is MUCH thicker than Jupiter's! And that's just one reason why!
Fifth graders are considering the special features of each planet/celestial body including (but not limited to):
Like all engineers, aerospace engineers must define the problems they solve, regardless of whether they meet a need or a want. After finishing our aerospace engineering story with Paulo, 5th graders are defining the problem Paulo encounters. Knowing about gravity and drag, Paulo and his friend Lucas use the engineering design process to develop a technology (parachute) to prevent a fruit from breaking on its decent down from a tree. Way to go 5th graders!
Aerospace engineers can work extremely close with astronauts, but their work is very different from each other.
Aerospace engineers help develop technologies that are used in both aircraft and spacecraft. They must know about our Earth's atmosphere, and the forces of gravity and drag.
The conditions of an atmosphere affect an aircraft's and a spacecraft's flight. Knowing about atmospheric conditions, gravity, and drag are important for all aerospace engineers to know!
Fifth graders' first design challenge in their aerospace engineering unit was based on NASA's LCROSS mission from 2010. Using every day materials and a zipline made of fishline, their goal was to develop a technology that could hit an exact target at the end it.
What was so special about this target? Well, this spot was identified as a possible location where water could be found in the form of ice crystals or water vapor on the moon. Is it possible that one day, humans could inhabit the earth? Great work 5th grade!
Paulo is a young boy living in Brazil. His mother is an aerospace engineer and he discovers that her expertise can help him solve a problem related to gravity.
With the knowledge he gains about drag, a force that all aerospace engineers come to know well, he must develop a technology to save something from falling and breaking!
Key Vocabulary: aerospace engineer, gravity, drag, force, parachute, suspension lines, canopy, rocket, body tube, fins, nose cone, lift, controlled experiment, criteria, constraints, Newton's Laws of Motion, space, atmosphere, aircraft, and spacecraft.