Biomimicry

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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:57 pm

Hi Terik,

I finished my prototype. I will have to make another one to show with my board. I'm guessing that my testing will cause some significant damage to the prototype, especially the stress/shearing test. I used a glue that contains sodium polyacrylate as one of its ingredients. It's more flexible than Superglue (cyanoacrylate) and seems to be holding up so far. Flexibility is a keep component of my product. I will test the product the way you suggested in your posts. I can't find a UV indicator card in our local stores, but my mom has an Speedo UV meter. Maybe that will work to measure how well my product filters UV radiation.

So with an engineering product, do you still have to do three trials for data like you would for a science fair? I hope not because I would have to build three prototypes. That would hours and it would be expensive because all the prototypes might get destroyed in the testing. Besides none of the feathers are the same, so the results of three trials may not mean anything because none of my variables are constant. If I show drawings, photos (before and after testing), and one set of data for results would that be enough? I wonder how many Teslas Elon Musk destroyed when testing his prototype!

Oh! If my prototype measures 11 cm X 11 cm, is there some mathematical way I can extrapolate my shearing test results to predicate how strong my product would be if it were larger like 33 cm X 33 cm ? Is it possible that my product could take more stress if it were larger because the forces are distributed over a larger surface area? I'm doing 6th grade math. We haven't started pre-algebra yet.

Anyway, I have to do homework now. I'll look forward to your response.

Thanks!
proscience
 
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:56 pm

Hi Proscience,

I'm glad you've built your prototype! I'm also glad you found a suitable adhesive for your feathers. I don't know much about the Speedo UV meter, but as long as it has some way of telling you the relative amounts of UV hitting the meter, it will probably work OK. It's definitely worth trying.

In regards to multiple "trials": as with science experiments, engineering benefits from as much information as possible. But, you have to evaluate time and cost. It doesn't make sense to build and test three copies of the exact same "prototype" spacecraft, for example. Instead, the folks who build spacecraft prototype and test components of the spacecraft. They use what they learn through testing to improve the components and then assemble the final, improved components onto the spacecraft. The spacecraft is then put through some final tests.

This process of building, testing, redesigning, and retesting is an important part of the engineering design process. So, you don't need to make three copies of the same prototype. Instead, I suggest building one prototype, testing it, and then building another, new prototype based on what you learn from testing the first. Time and cost will limit how many iterations you go through. Those limitations might mean that you can only build and test one version of your prototype. If that's the case, then make an improved version to show with your board, explaining why you made the changes you did. You should definitely show the drawings, photos, etc. Your board and presentation should highlight the process you used to engineer your product, as well as the final product itself.

Now, you raised a point about how none of the feathers are the same. That's an important point, and I suggest that you think about how it might affect your invention. I suspect you may get asked questions about that issue when you present your work. For example, could you limit the variability by only using one specific type of feather from one type of bird (e.g., a flight feather from a specific species)? How you account for feather variation will depend on your invention and engineering goals.

You also asked whether there is a way to mathematically scale how your invention will work at larger scales. A lot of experimental and theoretical research goes into figuring out how things like material strength scale with size. For some materials it is possible (within reason) to calculate how material properties change with scale, but the math is a bit above 6th grade, unfortunately. That being said, you can think about some things conceptually. Bigger isn't always stronger. For example, things like rocks are often full of fractures, so big pieces of rock can be much weaker than the small samples (mm- to cm-sized) tested in the lab. But, you are right that if the same force were distributed over a larger surface, the material would be under less stress. Whether going "bigger" makes something stronger or weaker will depend on a lot of factors, including the presence of imperfections and failure points in the material, along with how and where stresses are applied.

I look forward to hearing about your progress!

All the best,
Terik
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:50 pm

Hi Terik,

Well, my project is due next Tuesday and I'm having trouble collecting data. I wanted tried using my mother's Speedo UV meter. Like you said, it only provides a qualitative result. The problem is the meter isn't sensitive enough. I get a "low" UV rating when I am outside and when I cover the meter with my invention my result is no UV rating. I tried this same process with a t- shirt and then again with a paper napkin, all with the same result. I know that the feathers protect a bird from UV radiation so I can deduce that the same would apply even if the feather is not on the bird. But I'm pretty sure that UV radiation would pass through a paper napkin. How do I record my results? Do I create a table comparing the feathers to the t-shirt and the paper napkin? Actually, isn't UV radiation reflected off the feather? So is it possible that I wouldn't get a UV rating because of it?

Also, my temperature readings were inconclusive. I used these stick on fever indicators to determine my skin's temperature. I wanted to see if my skin got warmer because I wanted to test if the feathers were good insulators. Unfortunately, the fever test indicators showed "N" which is normal temperature before and after applying the feathers to my skin for 20 minutes. So the fever indicators didn't help because my body temperature would have to be 99 degrees or higher to get a difference in temperature.

My contact angle was good. I got a range of 140 to 145 degrees, so that's definitely in the hydrophobic range. I was hoping that the feather was superhydrophobic.

I haven't applied any force to my invention using the spring scale yet. I want to see if you had anymore suggestion for the UV and temp variables before I destroy my prototype. If not, do you think I can use what I have? Or should I just provide data for the contact angle and the shearing?

Thanks!
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:51 am

Hi Proscience,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having troubles collecting temperature and UV data!

When electromagnetic radiation (e.g., visible light, UV rays, etc.) encounters an object, such as your feather material, part of the energy is reflected. The other part of that incident energy is absorbed by the object. The object re-radiates the absorbed energy after some time period, usually at a different wavelength from the incident radiation. So, yes, some UV light is definitely being reflected by your feather material. Does the feather material make it dark underneath it, like the t-shirt probably does? If this is the case, then the feather material is blocking photons in the visible wavelength range, and it is likely doing something similar in the UV.

The tests you did with the Speedo UV meter are definitely data, which you should keep and report. Data is information, whether or not is supports our hypothesis or meets your expectations. I've often found that data that doesn't turn out as I expect carries important clues--it's a sign that something is going on the experiment that I don't understand yet. Sometimes that is an error or mistake in the experiment, and other times it is a crucial part to the puzzle I am trying to solve.

A table comparing your control (sunlight with nothing blocking it) to your feather material, the t-shirt, and napkin is a good choice for presenting the UV data. You could put the name of the object in one column, and then the result of each object (low, no reading) in a second column. I suggest also putting a caption next to the table briefly explaining why you did the tests you did and interpreting the results of your tests. It's clear that the feather material reduces the amount of UV light hitting the sensor. But, given the sensor's limitations you can't determine whether the feather material blocks UV rays more effectively than the napkin or t-shirt. At the same time, you know that the feather material blocks UV similarly to the napkin or t-shirt.

The same goes for your temperature results. While you may not know if your skin got warmed by 0.5 degrees, you know that it didn't get above 99 degrees. That's still helpful information, and you can report your temperature data in a table, too.

It sounds like you realize that the precision of your measurement techniques is not very high. And that's an important thing to understand. But the data are definitely useful. You know that the temperature did not get above 99 degrees, and you know that the feather material blocked enough UV to make the UV sensor give a "no" reading. Often times a judge will ask a question like, "If you were to do this project again, what would you do differently?" or "If you were to continue your project, what would be your next steps?". It sounds like you recognize that you need more precise measurements to better characterize the UV blocking and temperature properties of your material, so you could tell that to a judge. The fact that you recognize the limitations of your techniques shows a nice level of intellectual maturity.

I'm glad to hear that the contact angle test went well!

I think you should report all of your data: the UV, temperature, contact angle, and shearing test. But, you can put more emphasis on the contact angle and shearing tests, if you feel like those data are more helpful in characterizing your material.

At this point, I would suggest using the temperature and UV data that you collected and moving on to the shear test. You want to make sure you leave time to assemble your display and presentation! Be sure to take pictures of your invention before doing the destructive testing. You should keep the sheared prototype so that you can identify your material's "failure point".

I'm happy to help in any way that I can. Your material sounds pretty nifty!
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:53 pm

Hi Terik!

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I have two more questions. After I do my shearing test I'm guessing that I will need to graph my data. So if I plot my force in Newtons on the y axis, what would I plot on the x axis? I'm guessing that my material will start to split in the middle first and then towards the binder clips. Do I plot the distance from the first tear to the second tear and then the distance from the first tear to the third, etc?

I also recorded the uv readings at three different times of the day. Should I plot that on a bar graph? Since none of my testing instruments were very precise or quantitative, I'm wondering if I need to graph any of my data. I'm worried.

Also, I need to fill out an abstract form. Should I list my invention as biology or bioengineering? I'm not sure what category it should go in. I might have to send you another post after The shear test.

Thanks!
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Project Question: Engineering/Biomimicry
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Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:59 pm

Hi Proscience,

From what I can tell, you've been putting in a lot of effort into your project, and all of that work will pay off. So, push through to the finish--you can do it! It sounds like you're continuing to make good progress on your project.

The shearing test will be probably your most quantitative test. You'll definitely want to make a graph of that data. I agree that you should plot the force, in Newtons, on the y-axis. If you have access to a video camera, or even a regular camera, you could plot time on the x-axis. Your graph would then show you how the force on the material changes as a function of time. Sometimes this is called a loading curve. The graph will increase slowly as you apply the force. It will peak when the material breaks, and then quickly drop to 0. To make a plot like this, you would want to video (or take pictures at frequent intervals) the test from start to just after the material breaks, making sure that you can see both the force gauge and the material at the same time. To make the graph, you can then watch the video (or look at the pictures) and write in your notebook what the force is at specific time intervals. Then, plot the forces at those times on an X-Y scatterplot.

Videoing the test has the added benefit that you can watch the material as it breaks in slow motion, which is very handy for failure analysis. You'll be able to see right where and how your material fails.

My suggestion would be to show your UV data in a table. You could have a row for each item you tested (e.g., feather material, t-shirt, napkin) and then one column for each of your three tests. If you have to have a certain number of graphs with your project, I suppose it's possible to make that data into a bar graph. (I'm not sure what exact requirements your teacher gave you.) But, I think a data table would be clearer for those measurements.

Given what I know about your project, I would suggest bioengineering over biology.

I look forward to hearing how your shear test goes. As always, let me know if I can help with anything else!
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:10 pm

Hi Terik,

I did my stress test today. The results I got were 19.6 N, 24.5 N, 26.9 N, and 0 N over 26 seconds. Does that seem right to you? My material started to deform at the center and then began to shred from the center down the vane to the bottom. the material broke off in the shape of a rectangle. It sheared vertically down one vane and horizontally across three vanes. Now I have two neat pieces of material. I almost looks like a puzzle piece with one large "L" shaped piece and one rectangular piece that was pulled out and fits into the "L".

I have to finish my board on Sunday (tomorrow). Hopefully, you will read my post before Monday.

Thanks!
proscience
 
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Project Question: Engineering/Biomimicry
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Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:13 am

Hi Proscience,

Those sound like reasonable data to me! And those are great observations of how your material failed!

All the best,
Terik
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:27 am

Hello Mr./Dr. Daly,

My daughter's project was selected at her school's science fair. Originally, she was required to follow the Invention Convention format but the county science fair is no longer accepting inventions. What does she need to change in order to present her material as a science fair project? We have to complete many forms that comply with state and national science fair requirements.

The science fair packet includes a picture of a sample board, so she will have to change the format of her board. It also seems that she will have to provide a separate research plan and research paper, along with data analysis.

Her project will be entered in the engineering category. Does she need to provide three trials for data? I'm afraid if she doesn't, her board my be disqualified.

My question: Are boards in the engineering category different than traditional science fair boards? Or do they follow the same format? Does she need to provide three sets of shear test data? Does it matter that some of her data is qualitative?

Sorry about all the questions.

Thank you for all your help!
proscience
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:41 am
Occupation: Student: 7th Grade Gifted
Project Question: Engineering/Biomimicry
Project Due Date: October 2014
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:01 pm

Hello Proscience (or Proscience parent?),

First of all, congratulations! I'm glad your project turned out so well! I will happily help you mold your project to better fit the format/guidelines of the county science fair.

What is the name of the national science fair your county fair is affiliated with? There are several fairs, each of which has their own "flavor" (i.e., formats, judging guidelines, etc.). If I know which national fair your fair is affiliated with, I'll have a better idea of how to help you tailor the project.

Also, how long do you have between now and the county fair?

One thing to remember is that science fair projects include both science experiments and engineering projects. The engineering category will be perfect for your project.

Engineering projects usually don't follow the standard scientific method (ask a question, do background research, make a hypothesis, design an experiment, do the experiment, analyze data, and decide if the data support your hypothesis). Engineers use a different process, the engineering design process. This involves defining a problem to be solved or a need to be filled. Engineers then identify specific design criteria, brainstorm different ways they could solve the problem, build and test one solution, and redesign and retest based on what they learn from the previous test. This process repeats (or "iterates") until the design criteria are met. Take a look at these Science Buddies articles to get a better handle on the engineering design process:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/engineeri ... thod.shtml
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... uide.shtml

When I'm evaluating a science fair project (either an experiment or an engineering project), I'm looking for both process and product. By "process", I mean the process the student used to do their project. Did they follow the scientific method or engineering design process (whichever one is applicable for that project)? Did they thoroughly documenting their thinking with a lab notebook? Did they logically (and creatively) respond to challenges? By "product", I mean the end result - the conclusion drawn from the experiment or the engineered product. Is it innovative? Does the student understand what their results mean or what their product can do?, etc.

As you put together a display board, you want to highlight both the process you went through (the planning, building, testing, redesigning and retesting, etc.) and the end result (your new material). Think of it as telling the story of your project from beginning to end, making sure the cool end result is readily seen. You want the board to read like a newspaper article - left to right, top to bottom - so that people can follow your thought process. The board from an engineering project may look somewhat different from the board for a science experiment project because the two projects followed two different processes.

In terms of data - without knowing the rules of the science fair, I can't say if you absolutely must have three trials of shear test data. If the fair will disqualify you for not having three sets of data, then you'll have to decide how to proceed. The more data you have, the better. But, time and cost are always factors. At this point, you have two sets of shear test data, correct? There may be ways to get more data without having to build an entirely new version of the material.

You should definitely include all of your data, qualitative or quantitative. It is ALL data, and it ALL helps you evaluate your material.

Happy to help!
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:40 pm

Hello! This is proscience's mom again.

My daughter has carefully followed your recommendations throughout her project and after reviewing the links you sent, I believe that her board and paper are fine. She struggled with the data because it took her so much time and patience to build the prototype. Since she is used to the scientific method, not having three trials really bothers her.

Her goal is to make it to the state competition, which will be a challenge since she is competing with 7 th and 8th grade students. The state competition is the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida (SSEF).

The regional/county science fair takes place on December 10th.

By the way, your assistance has been a wonderful help to my daughter. I wouldn't know where to begin to help her. Thanks so much!
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby Terik Daly » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:56 am

Hello Proscience/Proscience Parent,

The SSEF is affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which means that it has to follow certain rules and guidelines established by the Intel ISEF. Hence all the forms: to make sure that 1) everyone follows the same rules, 2) that students aren't doing projects that are dangerous without appropriate supervision/precautions, and 3) no one breaks any laws that govern research practices, such as the rights of human subjects. In addition to following the same rules, SSEF will have similar judging criteria as Intel ISEF. This is great news, because, while I haven't been specifically involved in the SSEF, I know the Intel ISEF quite well.

Getting to the state competition will not be easy, but it's very satisfying. I participated in the California State Science Fair several times in middle and high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences there. It's worth the time and effort! I know that you've put a lot of both into your project.

That being said, since you have a month between now and the regional science fair, I strongly suggest using that time to continue working on your project. Take what you learned from your previous tests and then design, build, and test an improved prototype, one that you think will more closely meet your design criteria. This will greatly strengthen your project. You will have more data and you will show the judges that you really understand the engineering design process. You would do the exact same tests with the new and improved version of your material as you did with the original prototype. You can then compare the data from the two designs to see if your second design/prototype did, in fact, do a better job of meeting your design criteria. This is the iterative part of the engineering design process. You can then incorporate your new results into your display board and research paper.

I realize that doing this represents a significant commitment of time and effort (among other things, I'm sure). It's up to you to decide if you want to pursue this, but I know it will make your project much more competitive.

I'm happy to help - please let me know if there's anything I can do to help.
All the best,
Terik
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Re: Biomimicry

Postby proscience » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:41 pm

Hi Terik,

I wanted to let you know that I got 2nd place in Engineering at my regional science fair this week. I also received two community partner awards. Unfortunately, 2nd place middle school students don't get to go to the state competition. Only 1st place middle school students get to go. I was pretty disappointed about that.

Do you think I should continue working on this project for next year's science fair? Or should I do something different?

Thanks for all your help. I followed all your advice and I did pretty well. :-)
proscience
 
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Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:41 am
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Project Question: Engineering/Biomimicry
Project Due Date: October 2014
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