MS Science and Engineering Expo Photos

Thanks to all students, parents, and teachers for another incredible evening! The quality of the exhibits was high, and we could tell you worked hard. Enjoy the photos and videos below–you can click/tap on them to enlarge.

Tessa and Chloe show their Rube Goldberg dog feeding machine

Small children are enthralled!

The dogs enjoyed the show, too

A functional, hand-cranked, 3D-printed
Archimedean Screw


Jed and Ben show Lower Campus students their French Revolution
demonstration–fruit was definitely harmed in the making of this


…but put to good use in the
Blender Bicycle by Cate and Valeria!
Don’t forget to hold that lid on!


Mercy and Jenny help Mrs. Short to understand key principles of
buoyancy, density, and mass–looks like exciting stuff!

Christine and Ashlynne with their impressive pulley arrangements

Pedro and Julian with their LEGO version of the legendary
Claw of Archimedes

Lux and Olivia put together this
impressive homemade hydraulic
robot arm–well done, girls!

Selene, Mr. Hougo, and Asher prepare a live demonstration of
a compound pulley system

Doing fine, three feet off the ground
Also doubles as a “time out” device
for small children (it’s all right–it’s
Mr. Meadth’s son)
Caleb and Michael explored another
apocryphal war engine: the Archimedes
Death Ray!


Chloe and Ava with a motorized Aerial Screw, taken straight from
the pages of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook

Kayode and Josh lift 80 pounds of concrete and steel with a 3:1
mechanical advantage

Dylan and Jordan produced another
engine of war: the tennis ball ballista!

Sam and Tommy with their homemade motorized paper plane
launcher!  Standard equipment for every boy aged 5 to 105


Belen and Erica with an array of
marshmallow catapults

A surprising number of marshmallows never made it to the catapults

When Mr. Alker’s son wasn’t eating them, Mr. Alker was

Deacon and Chris were popular with
the racing crowd, tracking time, speed,
momentum, and kinetic energy

Julian and Zak loading a high-tension catapult, constructed entirely
of steel frame–be sure to watch the videos!

Once again, well done 8th Grade! Finish the year strong, and we’ll do this again next year.

MS Science and Engineering Expo–Monday!

The Providence Engineering Academy and the MS Science Department are excited to present the second annual Middle School Science and Engineering Expo. It will be held at the Providence Upper Campus (630 East Canon Perdido Street) on Monday, April 24 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Entry is free, and refreshments will be provided.

Levers, pulleys, and screws, oh my! The theme is “Machines”, with a medieval/Renaissance twist. The students have spent a month preparing their projects, building catapults, pulley systems, Archimedean war engines, and more. The interactive exhibits will be running the entire time, so come learn and support our students at this fun, family-friendly event!

Erica and Belen carefully design their catapult poster
Dylan with his very impressive
tennis ball ballista

Science history buffs might recognize this one–Eureka!

Julian with an almost-finished Archimedean war engine

Is that a blender on the back of that bike, Valeria? Smoothie to go!

Chloe with a scale model of Leonardo’s aerial screw

(Many thanks to Kylie from the Providence Engineering Academy for helping write this article.)

Middle School: A Mechanical Advantage

The second semester of the middle school elective, Intro to Engineering, takes on a special theme each year, and is intended for 7th and 8th Graders who are repeating the class. Last year, the theme was space exploration, and the theme was matched with our first annual Science & Engineering Expo, which was a huge success.

This year, the second semester theme is “Machines”, with a focus on the simple machine types described by Renaissance scientists. We have looked at the history of modern and pre-modern humanity in this area, wrapped around such figures as Leonardo da Vinci, Archimedes, and Vitruvius (not the LEGO wizard–sorry!). As well as the artistry and ingenuity, we’re also studying the idea of the physical concept of work, and how energy is conserved and transmitted in mechanical systems.

One of the simple machines that was studied in antiquity was the pulley–a rope wrapped around a wheel to change the direction of force. The compound pulley is even more interesting, and allows us to dramatically increase our “mechanical advantage”. In everyday terms, this means that we can make ourselves stronger. But to talk about it is not enough: you have to prove this kind of thing outside!

Using Mr. Gill’s outdoor education equipment and some 400 lb pulleys from Ace Hardware, the students themselves arranged the constituent pieces, hanging from the sturdy structure of the outdoor basketball hoop (not the hoop itself). On the previous day, they had worked with small model version indoors, so they knew how to set things up. It didn’t hurt to have some Boy Scouts in the group, too!

Students working out how to set up the equipment

With everything secure and checked, and a safety mat below, the first student was hoisted up into the air.

Julian was our first contestant!

Pedro gets a taste of the air up there

Josh holds on as Pedro slam dunks!

Our particular compound pulley system had two wheels where the hanging student was located. This means that there are four lengths of rope leading away from the load. This gives a mechanical advantage of four, which means that, aside from friction losses, the person pulling is made four times as strong! If a 100 lb student hangs from the pulley, the person pulling only feels 25 lb.

Two wheels at top and two at bottom; the lower pulley moves up with the load,
while the upper pulley stays in a fixed position; note Sam’s bowline knot!

Other notable moments possibly occurred as well…

Chloe representing for the girls!

Tommy and Julian being lifted together at once

Mr. Meadth showing a great deal of trust in Sam


Payback time for Chloe and Belen

More news coming up later this semester, and keep an eye out for this semester’s Science & Engineering Expo in April!