Science for Families: Activities supporting the ‘Weather’ session
This resource is designed to accompany the Science for Families course delivered by NUSTEM or one of our partners. It’s a six-week parent and child course delivered in primary schools.
You’re welcome to use the resources for other purposes, but they might not make quite as much sense!
Nice work! That’s a mighty fine-looking windsock your family made today. And what’s that? A cloud in a bottle? Very cool.
We’re assuming you’re here because the world of weather has sparked your interest. Well, congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming a meteorologist, the type of scientist who studies the weather. Let’s start by taking a look at that plastic bottle with the cloud in it. Here’s a question:
What’s really going on in there?
Your bottle is mostly filled with air, but you also put in a little warm water and some smoke, from the match you dropped inside. The water has created some water vapour (that’s water in the form of a gas), mixed with the air in the bottle. When you squeeze the bottle, the air is compressed (forced into a smaller space), which also causes it to get just a little bit warmer.
When you let go, the water vapour and air mixture expand back to their original volume. That cools them down, and some of the water condenses – which makes it forms tiny droplets – on the smoke particles. That’s what you see as your cloud. Clouds in the sky don’t form because somebody was squeezing the atmosphere and let go, but the rest of what’s happening is quite similar. Changes in pressure cause water to stay as a gas, or to condense into droplets. When droplets occur close to each other, we see a cloud.
If you like clouds, proudly call yourself a nephologist (a cloud scientist). You might like the BBC’s excellent cloud spotting guide to find out more.
This is a nice activity that will help you to measure rainfall in your backyard. It’s easy to make. You’ll need a pair of scissors, a 2 litre plastic bottle, a measuring jug, and a permanent marker pen.
Take a clear 2 litre plastic bottle and carefully cut off the top to make a funnel.
Turn your new funnel upside-down, then place it into the remaining part of the bottle.
To measure the amount of rain that has fallen you can mark different volumes onto the plastic bottle. To do this:
- Fill a measuring jug with 50ml of water.
- Pour it into the bottle and mark the water level as ‘50ml.’
- Do the same again, marking the new level as ‘100ml.’
- Keep going until you get bored.
Now you’ve made your rain gauge, pop it out in your garden or back yard and wait for the rain – you’ll be able to measure the mount of rainfall each day and compare it with the day before!
Wind Turbine Engineering
Notes and extensions from our workshop
How many people does it take to build a wind turbine?
I don’t know the answer, but I imagine it’s quite a lot. If I’ve learnt anything from our wind turbines workshop, it’s that these renewable rotators are considerably more complicated than they look.
In this workshop we design and build a turbine powerful enough to lift a small mass up to bench height. We are able to calculate the work done and the power output of our turbines using some simple physics equations. We then discuss the many different variables that need to be taken into account when designing a wind turbine and the types of people who contribute to that process.
Even with these smaller versions we have to think about materials, mass, stability, vibrations, torque, aerodynamics, safety, power output, efficiency, strength, balance, design, testing, and who knows what else. And we do all of that in just an hour! The aim of our workshop is to get into the mind of an engineer, especially the iterative process of “design – prototype – test – evaluate – repeat”.
The upshot is that to create a wind turbine from scratch takes hundreds of people, each with a different skill or specialism. The video below shows an offshore wind turbine being put up – just imagine how many people would be involved with such a huge effort, and’t that’s not including all the people who design, test and construct the separate parts. Or the team manager, the IT specialists, the business managers, the customer services staff, the human resources departments, the environmental impact assessors, the health and safety officers, the accountants, the marketers, the research teams, the public relations people, and no doubt countless other people.
Engineering is big business.
Siemens employ over 14,000 people in the UK, with several sites in the North East. There are many different routes into working for them, from apprenticeships to degree level positions. Have a look at our employers page to find out more about Siemens and have a go with this 360 degree tour of one of their offshore wind farms.
Tag Archive for: wind
You will have probably used Siemens technology; their well known products include mobile phones and televisions. Siemens is one of the worlds largest and most successful technology companies, and they are passionate about innovation and change.
Siemens was established over 170 years ago and today employ nearly 14,000 people in the UK alone, with manufacturing sites in Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and another key site in Stockton, Teeside. The company is a large multinational company with bases in nearly 200 countries across the globe. Siemens specialise in a number of sectors:
- Power generation services including gas, wind power and renewables
- Energy management
- Building technologies
- Financial services
Siemens are one of the world’s biggest producers of energy-efficient resource-saving technologies, as well as constructing offshore wind turbines which you will see across the region.
Siemens are not just about renewables though. They also design, develop and manufacture for example MRI scanners which are used in hospitals all over the world. The Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, has Siemens Engineers working at the hospital on a daily basis to make sure the scanners are working. Siemens also develop IT software which is used within a range of industries and variety of organisations including NASA to simulate the Mars Curiosity Rover!
Check out this great interactive 360′ tour of a wind farm, which allows you to explore wind turbines in further detail.
Some of the roles that people who work at Siemens have are:
- Client solutions engineer
- Customer support engineer
- Controls engineer
- Software engineer
- Manufacturing engineer
- Technical software architect
- Commercial sales manager
- Project manager
- Offshore commisioning technician
- Civil engineer
Topics in science and maths that link to Siemen include:
- Energy resources
- Energy and power
- Electric circuits
- Medical Physics (MRI)
- Health and Disease
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