NASA Ames Research Center
May 21 – August 10, 2018
Goals of your project/s:
The goal of my project was to create both an elementary and high school kit of the Mars Helicopter including instructions and curriculum. I was also tasked with enriching the Aeromechanics outreach program.
Describe what you did during the internship.
During my internship I worked on different projects and performed a variety of tasks. I assisted the Aeromechanics Branch Chief, Dr. William Warmbrodt, with Aeromechanics outreach. I assisted on giving tours of the wind tunnel, developed outreach content, materials, and a more comprehensive outreach organization system. We also attended many outreach events on center and in the Mountain View community. I worked with a primary team of two engineers to develop an elementary and high school Mars Helicopter Kit. To assist with this project, I learned the basic concepts of engineering and aeromechanics, as well as how to code with HTML, use Solidworks, and learned how Arduino works. I was also the intermediary between the internship coordinator and the 54 other Aeromechanics interns. I communicated due dates, collected intern abstracts, posters and final reports, and organized branch trips to the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and The Spaceship Company.
Did you achieve your goals? What were the results and conclusions?
At the beginning of the summer I had many goals in mind for my project that I naively believed would be accomplished within a window ten short weeks. More tasks and goals were added throughout the summer, and I am now full of even more ideas and plans than I was at the beginning of the summer. The initial goal of having a completed Mars Helicopter kit with instructions, materials, and supplemental curriculum and lesson plans on the Aeromechanics branch website by the end of the summer was not completed. I have numerous ideas for lesson plans and content, which have yet to be written and compiled. Additions must be made to the Mars Helicopter outreach display. A box will be created which demonstrates helicopter in-ground effect and brown out. We will also create a tactile display with something to simulate Mars dirt, and possibly a box with silica sand. A display involving an altimeter will also be created to show students the importance of the sensors on a helicopter. Research will be conducted involving whether or not saltation occurs on Mars, and we will determine how to best teach that to young students. Moving forward, the Mars Helicopter kits need to be finished and the instructions for the elementary and high school kit must be written. Once the kits have been created, we can work with the Office of Education, Space Grants, and other organizations to publicize the availability of the kits. In the future, I would like to research the importance of STEM education for young children, especially girls and students in underrepresented communities.
Describe positive lessons learned from this experience:
The growth mindset has carried me through my internship at NASA Ames. Though I had started to reshape my mindset, at the beginning of the summer I still did not believe that I was smart enough to have an internship at NASA. I began my internship two weeks before the other Aeromechanics interns, and attempted to learn the basics of not only rotorcraft, but engineering itself. The Rotorcraft Flying Handbook seemed extremely overwhelming, having minimal previous knowledge about basic engineering concepts and zero knowledge about helicopter flight itself. However, through keeping the growth mindset in the forefront of my mind, I took the initiative with my learning. Whenever something was challenging, I would catch myself thinking that I was stupid, or not smart enough to learn complex topics and concepts. I would then remind myself of the growth mindset, and that I simply did not understand the concept yet. Learning is a lifelong process, it does not simply end when one graduates from high school or college. As a future teacher, I am attempting to adopt that positive mindset for myself so that I can lead my students by example with self-love and compassion, while embracing the growth mindset. Throughout the summer, I have continued to be patient with myself while I am learning new things. I learned how to write an internship plan, an abstract, a technical report, and learned how to create a poster to showcase a technical project.
Describe negative lessons learned from this experience:
While I believe that there is no such thing as a negative lesson, I did learn quite a few lessons about my leadership skills and productivity. Because I had never had a desk job before this summer, I had to learn many lessons on productivity, self-discipline and time management. Through hours of self-reflection, I have considered and decided on how I will improve upon these mistakes or areas where I know that there is room for improvement in the future.