Shelyn students build machines in Rowland Heights


The room was packed as GATE 4th-6th grade students at Shelyn Elementary presented their projects to classmates that they built at home that demonstrated their learning about “simple machines” and physics.

Led by educator Pam Hessom, students learned about building and designing projects by watching videos from Bill Nye and researched video of Rube Goldberg machines (She invites everyone to check out the video at !)

After studying the many types of simple machines, students designed and built projects selected from different kits that were funded with grant money from the FOR US Foundation and The Shirley Kaufman Grant.

“The idea was to promote to our students to be creative as they can. Even though they are simple machines, they are not so simple – everything from catapults, roller coasters and windmills were presented and on display and we were all so very proud and impressed with their efforts,” said Shelyn Principal Sarah Opatkiewicz.

NASA’s JPL engineers talk to Shelyn Elementary students in Rowland Heights

JPL engineer Anita Sengupta is talking to Shelyn Elementary students this morning in Rowland Heights.

JPL engineer Anita Sengupta is talking to Shelyn Elementary students this morning in Rowland Heights.

Two engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will talk to Shelyn Elementary  students this morning in Rowland Heights.  The engineers will discuss their work on the Curiosity Mission to Mars.

Dr. Anita Sengupta will explain her work for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet.  On Aug. 5, NASA landed its most capable robot on Mars. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission placed 2,000 lb rover, the size of a compact car, on the plains of Mars.

The rover will search for organic compounds, study the climate and geology, and continue the search for life.  One of the most challenging aspects of the mission, from an engineering perspective, was safely landing the rover on the surface.

The entry descent and landing (EDL) system used a heat shield to accommodate its hypersonic entry conditions, followed by a supersonic parachute, and eight retro rockets for the powered descent phase.

For its final terminal descent, a maneuver called the sky crane was used where the rover was lowered on tethers for touchdown. The JPL engineers will  talk about the motivation for Mars Exploration and how the MSL EDL engineering challenges were tackled with computational modeling and cutting edge experimental techniques.