Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Submarine Science School Demo

A reader writes in and says:
I "volunteered" to do a science demonstration for my son's elementary school. When they found our I was an ex-submariner (642B) they requested something sub related. I've thought about the following:
**steam cycle demo, but am having trouble coming up with a way to make steam safely at a high enough pressure to turn an old computer fan (simulating a turbine)... the whole condenser part would need to be on the white board.
**buoyancy demo using pen caps in a sealed 2L bottle - squeeze the bottle, increase the pressure, reduce the bubble size, cap sinks... lacks a certain pizazz
**the old blindfold them and let them play submarine hunter with wet sponges sonar demo - fun, but lacking ideas on where to take it after the first couple kids get smacked with a wet sponge.
Any ideas - either improvements on the above, or new ideas? (I'd like to keep the cost under $50.)
Every idea I came up with -- except for the old "raisin in a glass of water with vinegar and baking soda" idea to demonstrate buoyancy -- cost a lot more than $50, so I figured I'd throw it out to the Peanut Gallery for comment. Have any of you ever done something like this? What ideas do you have?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd always wanted to make a diving demo by making a model of two inverted plastic "solo" cups. One cup for fwd MBTs and one for aft. I'd put a straw out the top of each cup with a pinch clamp for the vents. It would probably need some sort of outriggers to not fall over. You could show diving by taking off the clamps, then let the kids "blow" MBTs through the straws.

12/28/2010 5:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about bringing in some simple green, sponges, and kim wipes, and conducting an all out field day? That'll cost way less than $50 and you might even have enough left over to cook them up some sliders for a job well done. Science value - a clean classroom is less likely to burst into flames.

12/28/2010 5:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could make a simple periscope with a cardboard tube and a couple of mirrors.

12/28/2010 5:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could make a simple dirigible with helium balloons and some light weight structure (soda straws?) to hold them together. Depending on how involved you want it to be, you could attach a rubberband-driven plastic propeller. After explaining how the dirigible works, compare and contrast its basic operating principles to that of a submarine (preferably with a model of a submarine in hand).

The balloons, soda straws, and rubberband help demystify the topic, and the basic operating principles of a dirigible and submarine are similar.

For added realism, make the balloons black.

12/28/2010 6:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldies but goodies... a few suggestions for "submarine science" demonstrations that the kiddos can do at home:

1. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Two to three hours after you fall asleep, have your wife/mom/siblings whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and mumble "Sorry, wrong rack".

2. Repeat back everything anyone says to you.

3. Spend as much time as possible indoors and avoid sun light. Only view the world through the peep hole on your front door.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of your bathtub and move the shower head down to chest level. Shower once a week. Use no more than 2 gallons of water per shower.

5. Buy a trash compactor and use it once a week. Store garbage in the other side of your bathtub.

6. Sit in your car for six hours a day with your hands on the wheel and the motor running, but don't go anywhere. Install 200 extra oil temperature gauges. Take logs on all gages and indicators every 30 minutes.

7. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it to "High".

8. Watch only unknown movies with no major stars on TV and then, only at night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then watch a different one.

9. Don't do your wash at home. Pick the most crowded laundromat you can find.

10. (Optional for Nukes and A-Div) Leave lawnmower running in your living room six hours a day for proper noise level.

11. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.

12. Take hourly readings on your electric and water meters.

14. Invite guests, but don't have enough food for them.

15. Buy a broken exercise bicycle and strap it down to the floor in your kitchen.

16. Eat only food that you get out of a can or have to add water to.

17. Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread. (Optional- cold beans and weenies, canned ravioli or soup).

18. Make up your family menu a week ahead of time without looking in your food cabinets or refrigerator.

19. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed and get dressed as fast as you can, then run to your kitchen with the garden hose while wearing a scuba mask.

20. Once a month take every major appliance completely apart and then put them back together. Ensure you have parts left over.

21. Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for 5 or 6 hours before drinking. Never wash any coffee cups.

22. Invite at least 85 people you don't really like to come and visit for a couple of months. Limit showers to weekly for all guests. (Unless they are interested in electronics....force those guests to shower three times daily and wear * bottle of stale cologne following each bathing).

23. Store your eggs in your garage for two months and then scramble a dozen each morning.

24. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.

25. Check your refrigerator compressor for "sound shorts".

26. Put a complicated lock on your basement door and wear the key on a lanyard around your neck.

27. Lockwire the lugnuts on your car.

28. When making cakes, prop up one side of the pan while it is baking. Then spread icing really thick on one side to level off the top.

29. Every so often, yell "Emergency Deep", run into the kitchen, and sweep all pots/pans/dishes off of the counter onto the floor. Then, yell at your wife/mom/siblings for not having the place "stowed for sea".

30. Put on the headphones from your stereo (don't plug them in). Go and stand in front of your stove. Say (to nobody in particular) "Stove manned and ready". Stand there for 3 or 4 hours. Say (once again to nobody in particular) "Stove secured". Roll up the headphone cord and put them away.

12/28/2010 6:44 PM

Blogger FastAttackChief said...

Give each kid a cookie and tell them it's a type of fission product and see who gets it right.

12/28/2010 6:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an idea, but its going to require some fissionable materials. That will work, right?

12/28/2010 7:18 PM

Anonymous T said...

a Pressure cooker might be able to make enough pressure, you would have to find a way to replace the gauge with a valve, though. I do not own a pressure cooker, so I can't look closely at one to see if this is possible.

12/28/2010 7:45 PM

Anonymous RTP said...

Don't have any ideas for this but one of the posts reminded me of a great time on HGR..

In 1987 HGR was the aggressor submarine against the USS SARATOGA (CV 60) during FLEETEX 2-87.

Weps came up with a great idea to alter the conditions of the game (ref. kobayashi maru scenario).

We took several TDU cans, linked about 5 of them together (vertically), dropped a few TDU weights in the bottom and then filled the rest w/some kapok stuffing. Wired several small cans to the top and then put one at a 90 degree angle. For camo, we wrapped the sucker in all sorts of directions w/some EB green tape.

When we came to PD for the nightly broadcast, we came up just a bit further. Opened the fwd esc hatch, dropped the "periscope" over the side and then dived. About 6 hrs later, those skimmer pukes were attacking a scope bobbing in the water. We cam around and scored a direct kill on USS VA and shot one up ole Sara's skirt. Easy kills and a liberty call for HGR in Pensacola that year!

12/28/2010 7:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science project < $50.

Obtain 3 empty CO2 cylinders (88g types are abundant) natural saltwater, a cheap hygrometer, a small aquarium, thermometer and a graduated syringe (to inject saltwater into cylinders in final step).

Measure specific gravity of aquarium with hygrometer. Determine aquarium water temperature.

Tape cylinders together and weigh.

Determine (floating and submerged) displacements of salt water when cylinder assembly filled with air (empty) and when full of salt water. record all calculations.
NOTE 1: seal cylinder openings with candle wax in both instances.

Now the difficult part: calculate the saltwater content of cylinders for 'neutral buoyancy'. Again, record and retain calculation.

Test your calculation by injecting necessary saltwater volumesinto assembled cylinders and place in the aquarium.

You will dazzle them!

12/28/2010 8:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a Jensen steam engine. The boiler is fired by hexamine tabs and drives a single piston engine hooked to a fly wheel. If you want I'll loan it to you. It's on a base plate about 1 foot by 1 foot. I drive my wife nuts with it. I buy DI water for it!!
Let me know and I'll PM you my home email and you can let me know where to ship it to.

12/28/2010 10:03 PM

Anonymous 623 said...

Anon 0644 - OK. I tried 2, 11, 24 & 29. Wife pissed, dog ran away.

12/28/2010 11:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For steam try a capucino machine. Use some copper tube to direct the flow from the frothing nozzle.

If you have a vintage La Pavoni, it also looks like a boiler & has pressure gauges. A large reservoir gives steam for about 3 min.

12/29/2010 6:13 AM

Anonymous Tom said...

I like the buoyancy demonstrations, both with balloons and with the CO2 cylinders - I have some ideas on how to expand those that might fill up the time.

The periscope is pretty cool too, but I'm not sure how to fill up the time after doing the demo.

Steam idea with the pressure cooker - have one, but not willing to mess with the pressure relief value.

Steam idea with the cappuccino machine - I'll have to look into that! Thanks.

Jensen Steam Engine - Thank you for the offer, and I may take you up on it, but let me fool with the other ideas first. I'm a little uncomfortable borrowing something that expensive.

The rest of you - funny, but not helpful.

"The reader"

12/29/2010 6:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a cloud chamber?

Here is a "Kit"

You can do the same with a cooler, dry ice, smoke detector, powersupply and turning the lights out. It looks pretty impressive. For a finale, throw the dry ice in a bucket of water and say that is what it is like surfacing at the pole...

12/29/2010 7:15 AM

Blogger hughmon said...

Battery, water, couple of test tubes, electrolysis making H and O out of good old H2) - plenty of ideas for setup under your friendly search engine!

12/29/2010 7:27 AM

Blogger hughmon said...

Oops omitted the link.

Don't forget matches and stir-sticks to show off your end products!

12/29/2010 7:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make coolies with gamma, beta, alpha, and neutron sources and see who figures out which is the right one to eat.

12/29/2010 7:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an impulse launcher for torpedos. A syringe, some tygon tubing, a nerf bullet, a fish tank and a clear tube and you can launch some torpedos at your favorite commie.

Combine with the periscope for full effect.

Go virtual - ray trace programs, shockwave engine cycles on a laptop projector.

12/29/2010 8:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visual aide...

There is a picture of the major control panels in maneuvering from an exhibit at the Smithsonian here

Old chief from the dark ages

12/29/2010 11:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let them watch Full Fathom Five

12/30/2010 6:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hull compression demo

ver. a ver.b
Balloons String/fishing pole
Water tank 2 peices sheet
Measuring Tape metal
Volunteers 2 gallon jugs/water
2 ramps slick
Blow up balloons
Use measuring tape to determine circumference.
Have volunteers put balloon underwater
Measure circumference underwater.

set the 2 ramps up so they incline down towards each other
Attach the strings to the jugs and have the vol. hold them apart.
put fishing rod between the jugs
have vol. release the string and let the jugs slide toward each other simiulating increasing depth
Measure and repeat.

also maybe go with several stations allowing each student to do make or do several things
Have two vol. hold the jugs

12/30/2010 10:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see you cannot do columns in the comments section

12/30/2010 10:12 AM

Anonymous stsc said...

Go find a copy of RP33. It is unclass and has great oceanography information pertaining to submarines and it is written at an 8th grade reading level, though some of the concepts can be challenging for some.

My OIC on my first shore duty used it for his practicum giving a lesson in high school.

12/30/2010 2:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a sub know where other ships are, and how does a sub know where it is?

1. Demonstrate sonar: use a long length of rope, stretch it the length of the classroom without attaching it to something, wiggle the end in your hand... the wave never returns. Tie the end to something solid, give your end a little wiggle, it will create a wave which travel to the object, then it will return to your hand. Talk about echos. talk about the speed of sound in air. speed of sound in water. Introduce D=rt.

2. Demonstrate navigation: draw a "chart" on a blackboard. introduce the 360 degree circle. pretend you are looking through a persicope. take a bearing on a lighthouse. take a bearing on a radio tower. plot your position on the "chart".

3. Demonstrate ded reckoning. lower the scope in demo #2. travel 180 degrees underwater for 1/2 hour at 10kts. plot your position. raise the scope. shoot the lighthouse and the radio tower. check your position.

12/30/2010 4:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever you end up doing get a video....

I'd like to see you set up the mouse trap/ping pong ball demonstration to explain fission.


12/30/2010 10:14 PM

Anonymous Old target driver said...

Mo Board. Do a CPA, & a plot intercept course. You can put bearing and ranges on a 3 X 5 card. Color code the cards and hand out to the students. Call out "red 1", "red 2" etc. and plot the positions given by the students. Make the intercept speed high, just like a torpedo.

Based on my experience, turning math or following safety procedures into a game wins with elementary school kids.

It would take one Maneuvering Board sheet, a transparency of that, grease pencils and a parallel ruler. The school should have an overhead projector and a white board.

You can also use a "constant bearing" to add math to catching a high fly ball as well, for the sport of it.

12/31/2010 5:00 AM

Blogger SJV said...

Overhead projectors have gone the way of the Dodo at most schools these days. Think Powerpoint.

12/31/2010 7:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are elementary school kids not engineering nerds. Get a bunch of those baking soda powered mini subs and let the kids play. They are a lot more fun than a powerpoint presentation about the steam cycle. Sprinkle in some science about buoyancy and how real submarines work -- maybe show some video of real submarine diving and surfacing. You will be a hero.

1/02/2011 8:08 AM


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