An important part of the REXUS programme, and therefore the SCRAP experiment as well, is outreach. What good is science if nobody actually cares about the results, and also, what if you can’t find any sponsors for your precious experiment?
However, the SCRAP experiment had a rather special outreach session on Thursday this week, namely a presentation for around 30 school children from the eighth grade. These students were the ones who had qualified, through their excellent test scores, for a special competition called “Teknikåttan” and were therefore privileged with the opportunity to visit us during a field trip to the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. We held a 40 minute presentation for the pupils in an attempt to inspire maybe at least some of them to continue within the field of engineering.
The presentation was made up of two main parts. First all the pupils were given an eight minute presentation up in the seminar room about the SCRAP experiment and the REXUS programme in general, and then the pupils got to visit the lab in the basement where we had prepared three events for them to observe.
The first event was a vacuum chamber in which we had a placed a half-inflated balloon. Naturally a fun effect of vacuum is that the balloon expands, until it eventually explodes!
The second event was a five minute video of the launch of a previous KTH REXUS experiment (MUSCAT). We also showed them some of the Free Falling Units from the old MUSCAT experiment, and fortunately we also got hold of a guest speaker from the MUSCAT team who could make some interesting comments on the video.
The third event was a demonstration of the dust release system, i.e. the cartridge which will be loaded with copper powder and gun cotton and then ignited close to apogee. For demonstration purposes we used flour as a substitute for the copper powder however, but the effect was still the same ;-).
All in all it was a very successful event and some of the pupils really did get genuinely interested (or so we hope). Who knows, maybe in a couple of years one of those pupils will be working in that very same lab with a new KTH experiment. Either case we need more young engineers.
Because as the old saying goes: “Children are our future!”