Student Team Leader Description of DIMEOn November 5, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Hi, I’m Cindy Parrott and I’m the teacher-advisor for the Sycamore High School drop team who was part of the pilot program for the NASA Glenn Microgravity Drop Days this past April. Our team did a combustion-of-cotton experiment and I’d basically like to tell you what my role as the teacher-advisor was. I initially received the information from NASA, brought it up to my physics students at Sycamore, had some students interested in being a part of the competition, e-mailed back and got information from the website about what we needed to do. We met after school a couple of times, figured out what our initial proposal would like to be, and then worked several times after school getting our proposal together and mailing it into Glenn. We were accepted as one of the teams that would go for this initial pilot year and then we worked very hard after school a couple of days a month to get our experiment ready. This is our experiment drop package, the Lexan which is the outside of this, another teacher here at the school, Chad Husting, was very instrumental in cutting it for us because the materials came in bigger than what we needed. The drop plate was provided by NASA also, so that we all had the same drop plate and would fit nicely into the drop rig. And then the girls and I decided on how it would go together. I bought the hardware, we drilled all the holes and put everything together. We had an original place where the cotton would be put onto and tacked onto the experiment package but when we sent it up to have the safety people look at it, we had electrical tape and they didn’t like the electrical tape in case it would burn. So, Dan, our mentor, came through with these clips, etc. Dan also did most of the wiring since we didn’t have the kind of resistor or the type of wiring that would go with the things that were on the NASA drop rig. I also was very instrumental in getting all the paperwork together, making sure the girls had filled out the right paperwork, and getting a CAGE code which was needed in order to get the grant from NASA for the monies that were needed to pay for the trip. And then I had to write the grant proposal and send that up and fax materials back and forth and back and forth. It was very very time consuming but worthwhile. I would suggest that any teacher that has high school students who are interested in some type of engineering, especially aeronautical engineering, be a part of this program because the days that we spent up there, we had four drops, all four drops were successful. After our first drop, our team decided that we needed to let the cotton burn longer so we could see more of how it actually burned. We found that during one-gravity, we had a real direct relationship in our rate of burn, then while it was in free-fall and in microgravity, there was no rate of burn and the burning edge stayed in one place. And then again upon impact, we had a nice direct relationship again. The girls were very excited, had a tremendous time, and learned a lot. Very educational experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Thank you.