World Space Week, October 4-10 annually, is the largest space event on Earth. More than 5,000 events in over 80 countries celebrated the theme “Space Unites the World” in 2018. The 2019 theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.”
“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”.
There’s something about origami that really seems to capture children’s imagination. In most of the classes that I have taught over the years, there has been at least one child with a real passion for origami. Many a show-and-tell has been dominated by incredible paper-folding creations, from water bombs to paper dragons. Think back to your own school days; which of these origami classics do you remember creating?
Origami is the ancient art of Japanese paper folding and for many, a love of origami stems from childhood. As much as we might marvel at this paper art-form, do we see its potential beyond an interesting pastime? Origami has evolved to be much more than paper folding. Here are some examples, with real-world applications within areas such as engineering, medicine and technology.
At a primary school level, origami is a fantastic way to explore mathematical concepts including geometry, fractions and angles. Turning a simple square of paper into a piece of completed origami involves a lot of mathematical thinking. Origami instructions involve following steps of folds, often referred to as ‘crease patterns’, in order to create different geometric constructions. Children will need to use knowledge of directionality and angles in order to complete these correctly. Throughout the process they will create other shapes starting from a square including equilateral triangles, pentagons and hexagons. Patterns also feature heavily in origami.
The TED talk above, entitled ‘The math and magic of origami‘ explains in more detail about the complex mathematics involved in origami.
Many of the real-world applications for origami can be found within engineering. Take the example of car airbags. Did you know that their compact, quick inflating design was inspired by origami? Engineers took inspiration from origami patterns and folding methods to deploy how the airbag is stored and deployed. Engineers are continuing to draw upon origami techniques when developing new structures and technologies.
In 2003, a new, origami-inspired heart stent design was created. Designed around an origami water bomb base, the purpose of the stent was to enlarge clogged arteries and veins. The origami design allows the stent to be expanded to different sizes depending on its application. Likewise, origami-inspired forceps are helping to revolutionise robotic surgery, allowing for delicate, precise cuts.
There are plenty of examples of origami-inspired space technology. One such is the solar array. The combination of different folds expands into a large, flat circular surface. These solar arrays can then be used to convert solar energy into electrical power. More examples of how NASA engineers use origami to design future spacecraft can be found here:
And all this is just the start! I hope this blog has inspired you to find out more about the real-world applications of origami. Do let me know your thoughts and further ideas via social media or in the comments section below.
If you’re preparing to blast off into space, you’ll probably want to take a good book. The same can be said if you’re about to embark on a space topic. Luckily for you we’ve got plenty of books to recommend. The books in this list are suitable for 7-11yr olds. To see our recommendations for 4-7yr olds click here.
Ready… steady…. blast off!
10. The Astronauts Handbook
SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Discover how you become an astronaut, the training you must undertake, how you travel into space and what you do when you’re up there. With a foreword from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to embark on a mission to the International Space Station. Published in association with the UK Space Agency.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:How old are you? Older than you think. In a way, we are all as old as the universe itself. In fact, every bit of every one of us was created in the Big Bang, billions of years ago. Stunning illustrations and lively verse tell the story of the cosmic connections that tie human beings to the beginning of the universe. Simple, informative prose provides additional facts.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world. Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto’s Secret explains the true story of this distant world. Providing a history of the small, icy world from its discovery and naming to its recent reclassification, this book presents a fascinating look at how scientists organise and classify our solar system as they gain new insights into how it works and what types of things exist within it. The book includes a glossary and bibliography.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:50 fun, simple and entertaining ways to improve your understanding of astronomy for kids of all ages! Discover how telescopes are made, learn about invisible light and study the scale of the universe in a way you’ll never forget! The follow-up to the popular Cool Science and Cool Maths, also by Portico. Inside this mega-jam-packed book are fifty fact-tastic ways to advance and improve your astronomy skills so you’ll never feel alone in the universe again! Learn amazing space-related tricks such as how to watch a solar eclipse safely and mapping stars from your own back garden, right down to expertly simplifying the supermassive numbers and distances involved in the space between space so you’ll never forget them! With Cool Astronomy, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the universe, from Asteroids to Zubenelgenubi… and almost everything in between!
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Answers to science’s most enduring questions from “Can I break the light-speed barrier like on Star Trek?” and “Is there life on other planets?” to “What is empty space made of?” This is an indispensable guide to physics that offers readers an overview of the most popular physics topics written in an accessible, irreverent, and engaging manner while still maintaining a tone of wry skepticism. Even the novice will be able to follow along, as the topics are addressed using plain English and (almost) no equations. Veterans of popular physics will also find their nagging questions addressed, like whether the universe can expand faster than light, and for that matter, what the universe is expanding into anyway. Gives a one-stop tour of all the big questions that capture the public imagination including string theory, quantum mechanics, parallel universes, and the beginning of time Explains serious science in an entertaining, conversational, and easy-to-understand way Includes dozens of delightfully groan-worthy cartoons that explain everything from special relativity to Dark Matter Filled with fascinating information and insights, this book will both deepen and transform your understanding of the universe.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Children eight and up will enjoy this conversational but information-packed introduction to astronomy and stargazing, which includes the achievements of the great scientists, the history of space exploration, the story of our solar system, the myths behind the constellations, and how to navigate the night sky. Whimsical color illustrations on every page and handy definitions and sidebars help engage younger readers and develop their interest. The special star wheel helps locate stars and planets from any location at any time of year. This is the third in Black Dog & Leventhal’s successful series including The Story of the Orchestra and A Child’s Introduction to Poetry.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:A comprehensive guide to the solar system accompanied by mesmerising photography and intricate illustrations. Children can learn about star groups, explore space and follow the Usborne Quicklinks to find out more. A great book to dip in and out of, for homework and for pleasure.
DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER:Endorsed by authors, teachers, and congressman alike, Mike Mongo’s Astronaut Instruction Manual excites a new generation of space explorers. The book, designed for children between the ages of 6 and 13, is a functioning, interactive instruction manual. Using mad-lib-style fill-in-the-blanks, Mongo encourages his readers to articulate and illustrate their own vision of next-generation space travel. The Astronaut Instruction Manual captures a new era of enthusiasm for space exploration, driven in part by new space celebrities (Commander Chris Hadfield, Elon Musk), and in part by a shift in popular interest in space (SpaceX rockets, The Mars Colonial Transporter, Kerbal).”