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Supercomputing Challenge

Zero Gravity Entertainment

Team: 13


Area of Science: Space Physics

Interim: Space travel for humans is a nearing event. The greatest problem that is faced is the long arduous trip with little to do. Using Newton’s laws of motion and the physics of motion, we decide to develop an entertainment toy to help with the boredom. Our invention is known as the Lazer Gazer.

To develop this toy, we first had to look into the use of lasers. There are 5 classifications of lasers. Class 1 lasers are used in DVD and CD players. They are low powered and have been shown to not be harmful to humans. They are however not useful for this project. Class 2 lasers are lower than 1 mW. They are used as the laser pointers, aiming devices and range finders. They can cause harm if aimed at an eye for more than 15 minutes. A human’s natural reflex reaction to bright light would eliminate this danger. Class 3a lasers are also used for the same things as Class 2. They are , however, from 1-5 mW and will cause damage if directed into the eye. Class 3b lasers run from 5-500 mW and are dangerous to human eyes. They are used in spectrometry ( an analytical tool ), stereolithography (3D layering) and laser light shows. Proper eye protection is a must when using one. Class 4 lasers are greater than 500 mW and are used for drilling, cutting, surgery, etc. Reflected light from a class 4 laser can burn flesh. Only those who have been trained in their use should be around them. We decided that our toy would use a Class 2 laser.

Once the safety of our need for a laser light was decided, we determined how our toy would work in space. Newton’s third law will come into effect. Newton’s third law, “For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction”, will be used to have the toy move by released compressed air squirts. These squirts will react with the air in the craft and cause the toy to go in the opposite direction. This is much like how a rocket is launched.

We had several designs we looked at, including the use of a track. The problem with the track is that it provided a friction force that would eventually slow the toy to almost a stop. Without friction, the velocity of our toy would be determined by the equation V=rWo, with r being the radius of a circular path and Wo the angular velocity. If the toy is to travel in a straight line, V= d/t is used. Any straight line at a given angle would be X=(VocosØ)t and Y=( VosinØ)t- ½ gt2.

Our lack of programming skills leaves us with Starlogo for computer modeling. We have contacted Dr. Smith, who said he would look into a modeling program that NASA used for this type of object, but we have not heard back from him on the program. We will design one of the toys shapes in the program and set it up with a laser simulation to cause the toy to move. The object of the toy is to beat your opponent by causing the toy to sail to them. It will use light optics to release the air, We hope to simulate this in Starlogo.

Team Members:
Javier Lopez
Ryan Granger
Brittany Goddard
Audrie Carrasco
Jessica Lee

Deborah Haggerton


(2006). Interview with Castillo, S, NMSU regent’s professor of college of engineering

Dyson, M (1999). Space Station Science. NY,NY: Scholastic Inc.

Fleisher, P (2002). Objects in Motion. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications.

Laser classifications. Retrieved December 15, 2006, Web site:

Laser Hazards. Retrieved December 15, 2006, from U.S. Dept of Labor Web site:

Team Members:

  Jessica Lee
  Brittany Goddard
  Audrie Carrasco
  Javier Lopez
  Patrick Bryant
  Ryan Granger

Sponsoring Teacher: Deborah Haggerton

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