Tuesday, January 31, 2012

High School Students Take Lego Mini-Fig to the Edge of the Stratosphere

Lego Space Capsule.jpg
David Cooper/Toronto Star
Over the years I've done several posts about Legos.  They are fascinating toys and I feel they also can help develop critical thinking that is one of the most important skill sets to have when you are in the health care field.  They are also a popular toy among geeks like me, but it really is the analytical part of Legos that keeps me a fan.
I'm sure most of you have seen pictures or videos of different creations.  Some are animated geek masterpieces while some are truly works of art and have even been exhibited in galleries.  There is even a gentleman named Nathan Sawaya who has created a career as an exhibiting Lego artist.  I've seen his work first hand and it is amazing!
But this post is about Legos and science… and the power of youth with an education.
It seems that 2 high school seniors in Canada, Matthew Holt (above left) and Asad Muhammad (above right)  decided to send a Lego Mini-Figure into outer space.  After watching a Youtube video of a space launching done by MIT students, the 2 bright Canadians set out to make their experiment become a reality.
On a budget of $400, the pair purchased all of the necessary materials.  They included a weather balloon, helium, 4 Canon digital cameras, 2 video cameras, a cell phone with GPS tracking, a styrofoam box to hold all the components, a parachute, and the Legos.
All of the gear was packed into the styrofoam box that had holes in it.  The cameras were aligned with the holes so that they captured a view of the Lego figure.  The young builders even put chemical hand warmer packs into the box to help keep the electronics warm at altitude.
The craft flew to 85,000 feet before the balloon ruptured and the entire build came back down on a parachute (the descent lasted 32 minutes).  The youths tracked the "capsule" with the cell phone and found it 76 miles from the launch spot.
They managed to get 1500 photos and 2 videos… an edited clip that was posted on Youtube can be seen below.
Here's to ingenuity and to the ability to dream.  These kids sent this homemade device to the edge of space on a $400 budget!  We need more kids like these!


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