Folding Matters – Solar Build

Folding matters in everyday life! You may have never thought about it before. We had a discussion in 4th grade about many things that have to be folded to function. I think the first thing that comes to mind is origami. This is a method of folding paper that resembles something. This concept is known to originate in Japan, but was also used in China and Europe. We talked about how NASA uses this concept to make many of its spacecrafts. Here are some things that we looked at to open our minds to believe that folding really does matter.

Butterfly in a chrysalis – If the butterfly is not folded properly a wing could be damaged
Parachute – you don’t want to fall to the ground. If it’s not folded properly it won’t work.
Proteins within your body
Car airbags – safety first
Spacecraft (James Webb Telescope) – Set to launch in 2021. Amazing website, check it out!
One cut Math Theorem
Heart stent

We watched some videos of these things folding, and then went to work on our engineering challenge! They were challenged to build a solar panel that was 1’ x 3’ dimension. The panel must be surrounded by aluminum foil and folded to fit into a foil box when finished. When unfolded to demo to the class, it must not have any rips in the foil. It was also required to have a “skeleton” under the foil. Out of 4 teams, we had skeletons that were made of pipe cleaners and folded over. We had one team that used paper to create their fold. The paper was folded in an accordion shape. The paper was held together by a skewer. This was a great idea. It did stick a little when unfolding, because of the tape. This is a really good way for the students to realize that things they are learning right now are reflected in the world. This challenge was a combination of engineering, art, and history. We covered examples of this concept in biology, engineering, technology, and math.