EDI Field Day Booth – Post by AJ Keels EDI’21

May 4, 2019, Norfolk Academy hosted yet another Field Day. The theme this year was a county fair. This year the Engineering, Design, and Innovation Fellows reached out to host a game booth in the Midway. The four sophomores, AJ, Olivia, Charlie, and Caitlin teamed up with senior EDI Fellow, Patrick, to come up with a great idea of how to showcase EDI to the whole community on Field Day. The five of us decided to feature two design challenges, one from our early time as EDI Fellows and the other from another EDI Fellows’ project – the marshmallow challenge and the tin foil boat challenge, respectively. The goal of the marshmallow challenge was to build the tallest spaghetti structure that held a marshmallow at the very top. The boat challenge was a test of weight and buoyancy. After each person would build their boat, their prototype was placed in water to see how much weight the boat could hold before sinking.  

The first challenge was the marshmallow challenge. Unfortunately, most kids were not interested in this particular challenge. At the beginning of Field Day, we started out with a time constraint and a limited amount of material, but we later changed the rules to have no time constraint and include a more generous amount of material provided. Additionally, the materials we chose to use were not efficient. Both the recyclable tape and the compostable tape did not hold the structures up well, and the space where the children were able to build was quite small, so they did not have much space to build their towers. The boat challenge, however, was more popular than the marshmallow challenge. Many kids came back to try the challenge multiple times, and each time they progressed into a better boat design. This challenge also started with a time constraint, but we once again dismissed the rule in favor of limitless time for the building process.  

Overall, the kids enjoyed the boat challenge, and we were able to run the booth relatively smoothly. The set up was rough at first, but we eventually completed the necessary preparation. Additionally, if we were to run the booth again, we would plan to have more EDI Fellows to help with the booth. With the limited amount of staff, each person had to take two 2-h shifts, which proved to be a long time outside in the sun for each team member. We’re looking forward to Field Day next year, and we hope that we will be able to run the booth again with our new experience.  

Team Little Kids Update – Post by Maguire McMahon EDI’20

Hello. My name is Maguire McMahon and this year I worked with Keon Tavakoli on a project named “EDI in Aftercare.” Every other Wednesday Keon and I would venture down to the lower school to run build projects for children in 4th through 6th grade. These projects were designed to encourage fun learning while teaching lessons in teamwork, planning ahead, and so much more. Our first priority for the children is fun, followed by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math learning.

One such session Keon and I ran was a competition where the children were put into small groups of 2 to 4 and given straws and tape and told to build the tallest, free-standing structure. Keon and I tested this project weeks in advance, and were able to, with the same materials and time limits, to build a tower around 30-36 inches in total. The children had 2 separate trials in order to make them learn from their mistakes. The first trial, one group was very successful, tying Keon and me at around 36 inches. But tragedy hit for Keon and my record during the second trial in which a different group reached over 50 inches, with less time, less tape, and fewer straws than the first trial.

Below are photos Keon and I took throughout a few of our trials. Some of the trials we ran include having the children build an aluminum boat that can hold the most weight, build the tallest, free-standing balloon structure, and a paper airplane challenge. Keon and I hope to continue this project through next year while hopefully opening up to 1st through 3rd graders as well.

Hydroponic Garden Update by Charlie Walker EDI’21 and Olivia Danielson EDI’21

Design Change: In 2018, all of the EDI Fellows were given a design challenge proposed by Jarod Haley, a 2020 Chesapeake Bay Fellow. This challenge was to create a prototype of an hydroponic garden. This garden would be used to grow plants which would be given to local food shelters. While the original project was to create a hydroponic garden, it has since been changed to be built as an aquaponic system. An aquaponic system is a system which utilizes nutrients produced from fish in order to grow plants. These nutrients are sent into the water in which the plants rest on, resulting in the growth of these plants. This change requires several changes to be made to the initial design.

On May 7th, Olivia Danielson ‘21 and I presented our project to the other EDI Fellows. We have created numerous CADs (computer assisted designs) for the project and are currently attempting to find a functional, safe, and energy efficient design to move this project into the building phase. Throughout all of our prototypes, we have encountered many problems regarding the design. The current design stands approximately 4 feet tall and uses gravity to pump the fish nutrients into the plant beds. This design, however, could have many potential problems due to its height as well as its requirement for electricity. In order to be built without the need of professional assistance, the structure must be under ~5 feet tall. Along with this problem, the structure requires a helpful amount of electricity to pump the water from the bottom layer back into the top.

Due to the problems from the current design, Olivia and I have been brainstorming an easier to build, simpler design which eliminates both its unneeded height and electricity dependence. This design will most likely be simplified into a square with tiers which each contain one of the three components needed for an aquaponic garden. If this design is approved, the building phase will be started shortly after.

Atomic Orbitals Model – Post by Caitlin Johnson EDI’21

The NA chemistry teachers approached Christopher Asuncion EDI’21 and I last November to create a combined model of atomic orbitals for their Chemistry classes. We have been working on the model for several months, and now it is finally complete!

White/Clear Sphere – 2s orbital. Dark Green Lobes – 2p orbital.

Background:Orbitals are the areas in which the electrons of an atom are located, and they form different shapes.  Our orbital model features the 1s orbital, the 2s orbital, and the 2p orbital, with the 1s and 2s orbitals having a spherical shape, and the 2p having a teardrop shape. The project started in November 2018 with some initial research, and ended in April 2019 with the final touch-ups.

Light Green Sphere- 1s Orbital. Clear Sphere – 2s Orbital. Dark Green Lobes – 2p Orbital .

Update: We developed the design in CAD, and 3D printed it once the design was finished. We settled on half of an atom, with a full 1s orbital in the middle. Additionally, we printed many prototypes, as we wanted to make the 2s orbital slightly translucent, which necessitated many trials. After three prototypes, we printed a final orbital model, where we then secured the halves together with magnets. This allowed the chemistry teachers to open the model and show the 1s orbital to their classes, while also letting them close the model back up. When the model was printed, however, we came across breakage at the points where the 2p orbital met the 2s orbital. I then used a special pen to use melted 3D printer filament to weld the 2p and 2s together. I also painted the 1s and the 2p in order to differentiate the two orbitals. I coated the 1s in glow-in-the-dark paint, and the 2p in dark green paint. Christopher and I are now working on a d orbital model, which has a more complicated shape, and will require more consideration in the process of creation.

Field Day Map update by Patrick McElroy EDI’19

The chaos of Field Day has long been a part of the charm of the day for me, but, as I’ve gotten older, not having some of the schedules or locations on hand has become more of a nuisance. Thinking on it, I realized that it must be worse for those who haven’t been at NA for 12 years like I have, or who have trouble getting around. Because of this, in Fall 2018, I set out to create an interactive electronic map that people could use to navigate the events and scheduling of Field Day. After meeting with Ms. Dougherty, the organizer of Field Day, I realized that this map could also be used in the planning of the day itself, as many of the different teams working on the day could use different layers to make a comprehensive electronic map.

One of the hardest parts of the project was finding and learning the software. After I learned the basics of creating layers and linking to other PDF pages with interactive buttons, I created prototypes for the map. I sent Ms. Dougherty the prototypes that I made, and I incorporated her feedback into the next iteration of the map. Though the final product of this work was not in place during this year’s Field Day, I hope the framework behind the map can be used for years to come and that younger EDI Fellow takes on this project, to create an easier and more understandable Field Day for everyone involved.

Outdoor Middle School Courtyard – Update by Frances Harrington eDI’19 and Kevin Smedley EDI’19

Here are Kevin Smedley EDI’19 and Frances Harrington EDI’19 about their project related to using an outdoor space here at NA.

Today we presented our final plan for the outdoor space in the middle school. Our project started in the ninth grade as one of the first projects of our cohort. Due to prior issues, however, we were unable to continue working on it until this year. Our original inspiration for this space came when our team realized that Middle School students had no outdoor quiet study space. The Pit is often tumultuous during times when students might study, and almost all other outdoor spaces are not utilized. Furthermore, teachers don’t have an option to teach their students outside.

hoped to create a space that could be used by students to study outside  and also used by teachers as a classroom. In multiple studies involving children undergoing large amounts of stress, it was found that nature left these children in a far more relaxed, focused state. Adam Alter, a psychology professor at NYU states in his 2013 book, Drunk Tank Pink, “People who are exposed to natural scenes aren’t just happier or more comfortable; the very building blocks of their physiological well-being also respond positively.” Alter also points out that nature gives us the chance to think as much or as little as we’d like, and the opportunity to replenish exhausted mental resources. William James, a psychologist in the 20th century, believes that there are two types of attention: Directed and Involuntary attention. He explains that nature attract our attention involuntarily.

When we first began this project in the ninth grade, we ended the year with only the base of the hexagon: 7 feet on each side with rocks on the inside. As we moved through this year, we came up with the final plan of having benches placed on four out of the six sides of the hexagon. One side will be left open as an entrance and on the opposite side will be two posts that can hang a whiteboard. This way, when teachers want to teach an outdoor class or have a student help session, they now have an alternate area to turn to as opposed to the Pit. Additionally, this space can double as just another hangout space for middle school students. Moving forward into the future, we hope to pass this project on to someone from a younger cohort.

Biodegradable Food Packaging by Sebastian Singh EDI’19

Here is Sebastian Singh, Senior EDI Fellow ’19, describing his current project.

Recently, I have taken up a project relating to biodegradable food packaging. Currently, there are two main problems with food packaging materials and methods, the first being the use of styrofoam; Styrofoam is manufactured by using HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, which have negative impacts on the ozone layer and global warming. Additionally, styrofoam contains styrene, which is labeled as a possible carcinogen, meaning it can directly hurt humans. Second, thousands of birds, turtles, marine mammals, and other wildlife are killed every year by discarded 6-pack rings. Some animals get entangled in the pack and it wraps around their beak or muzzle, preventing them from eating. While my project target more than just these problems, I have focused on these because they are, perhaps, the most urgent of the issues.

The market for such a project is expansive, considering that the global food packaging market size was estimated at USD 277.9 billion in 2017, and exhibits a compound annual growth rate of 5.1% over a ten-year period. Growing demand for packaged food by consumers owing to quickening pace of life and changing eating habits is expected to have a major impact on the industry. If biodegradable food-packaging options can be provided at a low cost, the market could be completely transformed.

Thus far, I have been engaged in material research and exploration as well as networking. I have talked with a brewery about using spent grain to create a biodegradable, but structurally sound six-pack ring and have recently spoken to mentors about different materials that could potentially contribute to the structure. I plan to potentially continue this project into the summer and create a final product for distribution to restaurants in the local area.