Progress Log

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2004-06-21, Monday
Erica McCay
Daniela Buchman

The meeting time was 10 am, and the team was ready to go. The students sat silently as they studied their summaries on pterosaurs and Margot explained the rules of working at Stanford. After, the high school teacher, Arthur, introduced a few get-to-know-you games, which broke the ice. The team returned to eat lunch and listen as Margot gave a presentation on pterosaurs. It included the time frame in which they lived and information on how they evolved over time.

Then came the first challenge. The team had been sent a set of bone replicas for the pterosaur, but they were not put together and there were no instructions. Using a picture that was posted on the wall , the students spent the remaining three hours of their work day trying to put it together so that the bones were in the right place and each joint that was supposed to move, could, and each connection that was not supposed to move, could not. There was some difficulty when it was discovered that the wrist pieces were missing , but that was resolved as two students worked to reconstruct them out of foam. The bones were originally assembled using pins, but the team used various other materials because the pins were not sent over.
These materials included, but were not limited to rubber bands, elastic, screws, electrical tape, and a paper cup.

Then came four o'clock, and not a student was ready to leave. All rapt in putting the pterosaur together, time flew by. The team slowly departed, all trying to finish what they were working on first. Some bones were connected using epoxy resin, which was left to dry as the team departed. Much was completed, some was labeled and ready to be assembled, and some was left unsolved and ready to be endeavored on the next day. The team worked together smoothly on this exciting first day—a great sign for the eight weeks to follow.

2004-06-22, Tuesday
Marianne Kvitko
PJ Thompson

We started work at 10 am with a quick briefing of the day’s schedule by Margot. Then the team got right to work. The plan was to finish construction of the pterosaur bone model and get it ready for hanging up and videotaping. A few students resumed their foam carvings of the pterosaur wrist, while some others sculpted it out of clay. The positions of most of the bones were known, so attaching them was the main task. Axel brought some flexible aluminum tubing, which helped attach the neck vertebrae of the model. Meanwhile, another group of students was having difficulties connecting the leg bones; the elastic didn’t give the joints enough rigidity. Finally the problem was solved by drilling holes in the plaster and threading paperclips or wire through. In the meantime, the rib assembly group was struggling due to lack of glue materials; they were provided with a few glue sticks, and an iron. Later, Cameron’s dad saved the day by bringing in a glue gun. Meanwhile, a photographer from San Francisco Chronicle was snapping photos of the team in action.

At lunch, students were surprised with a pop quiz on pterosaur parts and group member facts and names. There were a few trick questions, but everyone was sharp and knew all the answers. After lunch, the team split up into pairs to study stability and control with an aerospace design computer program. After reading about design and stability, each group got to design, simulate, model and test its own mini airplane. The program used allowed students to change wing, tail and fuselage angles and dimensions, and see how flight was affected (stability and performance-wise). It showed factors such as the lift to drag ratio, which predicted how many meters the plane would fly. We learned designing difficulties and many variables to consider and constraints to satisfy. The final step was to actually create the planes, using balsa wood and paperclips. The team had a blast testing the planes, and a few students even flew them down into the building courtyard. Fortunately, most planes were successful. During construction, a San Francisco Chronicle journalist came to visit and interview a few members. All in all, it was an exciting day. We’re off to a great start, and the future looks promising!

2004-06-23, Wednesday
Jeff O’Donohue
Ben Sanders

The team started at 10 am as usual with a briefing about what we would do for that day. We went to work on our gliders that we had started the previous day, and proceeded to put on the finishing touches. Meanwhile, some of the team was still working on assembling the pterosaur model, which had proved elusive to properly connect. Before lunch, we all tested the gliders. After lunch, the team went to Roble field where Axle and Chin May showed us the intricate design specifics of their gliders and prop model plane. We took turns flying it until PJ crashed it into the ground and broke the wing. We continued to fly the other planes until we decided to clean up and leave.

2004-06-24, Thursday
Cameron Tacklind

We started the day with our daily meeting, laying down the events for the day. Everyone was anxious to go to Lake Lagunita again and fly the RC planes. Unfortunately, we had too much to do to go and learn how to fly RC airplanes. Instead, we went back to the drawing board, and designed Pterosaur like gliders, like the ones built in the past couple of days, but that had the shape of a pterosaur. The gliders in the form of a pterosaur were a huge challenge to get to fly, mainly due to the large head which made it yaw unstable. After a long days work, everyone had their designs completed and were ready to assemble their gliders on Monday.

After the work for the day was done, we all got together and summarized each days’ work for Margot and Axel, and then me all settled down for pizza and a movie, Winged Migration, to see how real birds flew.

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