Christina Piña Arpin and Sonja Wood demonstrate to the career conference attendees how simulated space atmospheres can change ordinary earth materials by conducting experiments in vacuum where balloons deflate and shaving cream expands.View Larger Image
It was that time of year again, when the annual Girls Can! Career Exploration Conference was held at Lynn Middle School and coordinated by Bonnie Eisenberg.
Eisenberg connects successful professional and business women with 6th grade girls. Her strategy pays off: Over 130 girls attend the conference. Eisenberg also includes a workshop for parents.
Student Workshop Presenters included an attorney, veterinarian, civil engineer, dentist, and biologist, just to name a few of the business and professional women who volunteered their time.
NASA White Sands Test Facility had two representatives: Christina Piña Arpin, Technical Services Department, NASA, and Sonja Wood, Technical Services Department, Jacobs, Inc. White Sands Test Facility is located near Las Cruces, NM. The site was commissioned by NASA Headquarters in 1962, and began work on the Apollo Program, on September 21, 1964. The site employs over 600 and currently works on a variety of tests on materials, components, or propulsion engines for spacecraft.
View Larger Image Arpin and Wood demonstrated that space atmosphere can change the properties of ordinary earth materials, such as shaving cream or inflated balloons when placed in a simulated vacuum. The girls were then asked what they thought would happen to the material, and why did they think it would happen that way, before the demonstration was conducted.
“Balloons deflate, while shaving cream expands,” said Arpin, a metallurgical engineer. “A lack of atmosphere can change the way ordinary things react. On earth and with gravity, the balloon and shaving cream remain stable.”
At atmospheric pressure, liquid nitrogen (LN2) boils at −196 °C (77 K; −321 °F) and is a cryogenic fluid which Arpin and Wood demonstrated can freeze ordinary earth materials so that rubber balls and flowers dipped in LN2 can shatter, while bananas can drive nails into wood.
During the three 50 minute sessions, at least 15 girls attended each session. “A good time was had by all,” said Wood.