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Stage Three: Presentation

The final phase of the student projects was, of course, the presentation itself. The students spent the morning and afternoon of Day Four graphing the data they had collected and preparing written reports on their materials, methods, and conclusions to accompany their oral presentations. Each presentation was also accompanied by a round of questions, in which the students considered possible sources of error and ways these experiments could be improved in the future.

Presentation Project Topics
Celestial Tracking
Cassie, Kevin, Ntando & Peter
Mechanical Advantage (Distance)
Courtney, Ellie, Lilly & Tahjha
Mechanical Advantage (Force)
Colton, Jacob, Jerryangelo & Mylah

In the end, the students' experiments produced enlightening results. In every case, the students ended their Voyage of Discovery with a greater understanding of the natural world around them.

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Research Team 1: Celestial Tracking

Students: Cassie, Kevin, Ntando, & Peter
Senior Crew Advisor: Grant Prime
Guiding Question: Why do we need to know the height of the sun?
Instruments: Quadrant, directional compass, watch.

Conclusion: The Celestial Tracking team recorded the sun as having reached its zenith (the time of true noon) not at 1200 hours (12 PM), but instead much closer to 1300 hours (1 PM), thanks to daylight savings time. The team had to work around a few gaps in their data caused by overcast conditions, and created a "best fit" graph line to compensate. This led into an interesting group discussion on the best uses of "best fit" graphing.

Line Graph: Sun Altitude/Time
Materials Presentation

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Research Team 2: Mechanical Advantage (Distance)

Students: Courtney, Ellie, Lilly, & Tahjha
Senior Crew Advisor: Cheryl Backman
Guiding Question: How does the number of pulleys affect the length of rope you need to pull to lift a load two feet?
Instruments: Block & tackle simple machine, canvas bucket, bottle of water, tape measure, adhesive tape.

Conclusion: The Mechanical Advantage (Distance) team discovered that as they added moveable pulleys to their block-and-tackle simple machine, the length of line they needed to pull through the rig's pulleys increased in a regular and predictable pattern. In effect, their experiment clearly demonstrated the theoretical benefits of mechanical advantage. In theory, the addition of more moveable pulleys should to the simple machine should make it easier to lift the fixed weight, at the cost of having to pull a longer length of line through the machine.

Bar Graph: Distance Pulled/Pulley Arrangements with Diagrams
Practical Demonstration

Research Team 3: Mechanical Advantage (Force)

Students: Colton, Jacob, Jerryangelo, & Mylah
Senior Crew Advisor: Dan Brudos
Guiding Question: How can we use less force to lift the jug?
Instruments: Block & tackle simple machine, canvas bucket, spring scale, jug of water, adhesive tape.

Conclusion: Just as the Distance team revealed the theoretical benefits of mechanical advantage with their experiment (above), the Mechanical Advantage (Force) team amply demonstrated its practical results. As they added more moveable pulleys to their block-and-tackle simple machine, the force needed to lift the fixed weight dropped in a regular pattern — at first. The benefits quickly decreased, however, resulting in the machine producing less and less advantage with the addition of each new lead. Why? Friction! In theory, a simple machine could mathematically reduce the force needed to lift a weight to zero. In reality, however, friction sharply limits the actual benefits of these devices.

Bar Graph: Force/Number of Lines
Data Table
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