Iron Man 3 Out Today--Highlight the Science
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Making Science Connections
Marvel's Iron Man 3 launches in theaters today, May 3. With the new release, fans will find out what's next for Tony Stark and Iron Man. As the Iron Man story (and the suit) evolves, there will be plenty of new angles for making science connections and exploring the kinds of real-world science and engineering that shows up in the movie.
Whether talking about science before you head to the movies helps get you and your students in the mood for Iron Man action or whether you are looking for ways to continue the thrill of the big screen tech, engineering, and physics that help define the Iron Man saga, the following resources, project ideas, and articles may help:
Engineering Design Process
- "Excitement About Iron Man Fuels Student Science Inquiry": how the movie puts the engineering design process in action.
Iron Man Robotics
- Grasping with Straws: Make a Robot Hand Using Drinking Straws: Iron Man's suit needs a lot more protection and power than plastic drinking straws, but building a straw hand highlights the thinking required in robotics design prototyping. What shape will your hand take?
- X Marks the Spot: Build a Robot to Protect Your Treasures: what goes into wiring a robot, a suit, or a security system to monitor and defend a perimeter? Build one and find out!
- Stair Master: Build an All-Terrain Robot: you may or may not be able to control battleground logistics. To succeed, your bot needs to be able to navigate the terrain and elements!
- I Like to Move It: Motorizing a Robot Hand *: move past marionette-style bots and take your robot to the next level by incorporating a microprocessor board like Arduino.
Iron Man Physics
- Build a Gauss Rifle!: a ball bearing won't put a dent in Iron Man's armor, but setting a Gauss rifle in motion lets you investigate magnetic acceleration stages and initial velocity.
- Rainbow Fire: there are plenty of pyrotechnics in Iron Man 2, and the defeated drones self-destruct with a bang. Explore your own explosive displays by investigating what happens when different chemical compounds are burned.
- Particles in the Mist: See Radioactive Particles Decay with Your Own Cloud Chamber!: Stark had to craft his own particle accelerator to create his palladium replacement element, but to see atomic particles flying all around you, all you need to do is build your own cloud chamber.
- Build Your Own Radon Detector: when your suit involves a radioactive core, keeping tabs on radiation levels is critical. You may not be wearing your own radioactive elements, but with a simple ionization chamber, you can detect low levels of radiation around you.
Iron Man Propulsion
- Rocketology: Baking Soda + Vinegar = Lift Off!: Iron Man's first makeshift propulsion system crash-landed him in a desert. Baking soda and vinegar might not serve you any better, but combined in a compressed space, they offer high-flying chemical reaction propulsion. Rig one of these film canisters to an action figure and see where it lands!
- Solid Motor Rocket Propulsion: explore rocket science to better understand the logistics of Iron Man's feet repulsors and arm-mounted stabilizers.
- Model Rocket Aerodynamics: Stability: Iron Man's flight system went through a serious overhaul after his crash landing. Explore the impact of design modifications on rocket-powered flight performance.
Iron Man Energy
- Water to Fuel to Water: The Fuel Cycle of the Future: an arc reactor powers Iron Man's suit, but in the course of the first two movies, Stark has to alter the power supply. Explore another cutting-edge alternative energy path.
Iron Man Magnets and Electro-magnetism
- The Strength of an Electromagnet: Stark is saved, early on, by someone who rigs an electromagnetic device to help him. Who knows when you might need to innovate an electromagnetic field on the fly!
- Spin Right 'Round with this Simple Electric Motor: your power needs will outgrow this coil pretty quickly, but you will learn the basics when you build a small electromagnet motor.
Iron Man Computer Science
- Artificial Intelligence: Teaching the Computer to Play Tic-Tac-Toe: Tony's house and lab are monitored and assisted by a computer AI named Jarvis. Teaching your computer to play a simple game and learn might be the first step in programming your own AI assistant!
- Program to Check a Sudoku Solution: several task-oriented robots help Stark in his home-based lab in the first movie. Experiment with writing a program that automates the validation and analysis of a set of data or user input.
Iron Man Materials
- It's Hard Work to Work Harden! Learn How to Make Metals Stronger: Iron Man's suit is probably made from an alloy that gives it particular properties, but work hardening is an important strategy used to strengthen metals.
- Which Metal Is the Most Resistant to Corrosion?: when wearing a metal suit, you want to be sure it will hold up, no matter what gets dumped on you.
Iron Man Speed
- "Iron Man and Fiber Optics—Technology at the Speed of Light": learn more about the physics of 'light' and fiber optics.
Note: Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13. Parents can learn more about suggested viewing at Common Sense Media.
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