Winning with Space Stations and Goldfish

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Four students from Unity Christian High School in Orange City, Iowa, won first-place honors at the regional Eastern South Dakota Science and Engineering fair held at South Dakota State University.

Samuel Baas and Andrew Ter Haar, both members of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa, captured the grand prize by creating artificial gravity for space station use.

One of the problems in taking long trips in space is having enough gravitational force on the bones to maintain their strength. “The idea [of artificial gravity] has been presented, but no action has been taken because of the expense,” said Baas.

Baas and Ter Haar found an inexpensive way to simulate gravity using an iPod Touch and a bicycle wheel.

They figured out the relationship between the RPM, the radius of the space station, and the creation of 1G (a measure of gravity). From that they could determine the size and shape of the space vehicle and its rotational speed to simulate 1G on the bodies of the astronauts. 

Success earned them scholarship money and an all-expense-paid trip to the International Science Fair in Reno, Nevada.

In the Animal Science division, Abigail Dykstra and Ashtyn Zomermaand won first prize by proving CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation wrong about goldfish.

Dykstra, a member of Immanuel CRC in Orange City, and Zomermaand, a member of Bethel CRC in Sioux Center, noted that the television show had a segment claiming goldfish faded to white in 48 hours if kept in total darkness.

“We wanted to prove them wrong,” said Dykstra. After 48 hours in the dark, the fish’s color faded but then restored itself. CSI was wrong. The fish adjusted, noted Zomermaand.

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