Students Learn About Space at Inflatable Planetarium

inflatable planetariumPreschool students in Luzerne County Head Start and Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development programs in Pennsylvania were treated to a visit to an inflatable planetarium recently.

Children attended the “Growing Up Great Together Planetarium” at PNC Field. From the outside, the inflatable planetarium looked like a giant igloo. Inside, children were greeted by some of their favorite characters from Sesame Street.

The preschoolers watched “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Big Adventure.” The show was created by Sesame Workshop to promote cross-cultural appreciation and to introduce the students to astronomy.

Big Bird and Elmo introduced children to the ideas of constellations and the universe. The preschoolers looked up at the 360-degree screen surrounding them. Children answered questions, counted, and sang along with the characters from Sesame Street in the film.

The program also introduced a character from the Chinese version of Sesame Street, who taught the children some words in Mandarin, talked about cultural differences in China, and took a trip to the moon with Elmo.

The planetarium is part of “Grow Up Great,” a multi-year, $350 million bilingual program started by PNC Bank in 2004. The inflatable planetarium is transported to early education centers and other places where children might not have the opportunity to visit a traditional planetarium.

Approximately 300 preschoolers attended the show in the inflatable planetarium over a period of two days. The program’s organizers hope that the planetarium show will make children curious and encourage them to ask questions as they head into school.

Last year, three inflatable planetarium exhibits traveled to 37 markets in 16 states and the District of Columbia. About 26,000 students attended approximately 1,100 shows over a period of 230 days.

Artist Designs Inflatable Anda Armchair

Anda inflatable armchairArtist Tehila Guy created the inflatable Anda armchair for her final project at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.

The clear inflatable body of the Anda armchair is supported by four wooden rods that form a base. The air-filled part presses on the wooden rods and holds the components together, and the rods form a foundation that prevents the inflatable seat and back from collapsing. This design gives the chair strength and also makes it easy to transport, assemble, and maintain and keeps the cost low.

The biggest challenge in designing the Anda armchair was to figure out the right relationship between the inflatable body and the wooden rods that make up the base. She decided to make the seat from transparent material so that the rods would be completely visible, which made the qualities of each of the components essential parts of the design.

Guy wanted to create a flat-pack piece of furniture as a way to use fewer materials and help to protect the environment. She studied flat-pack furniture and was fascinated by the repetitive patterns, materials used, assembly methods, and appearance of the pieces. Guy wanted to design furniture that was different and would stand out in a market that was fairly saturated. She chose to create an armchair, which was a challenge since they are rarely flat-packed.

Guy needed to work with different materials and methods than those that are generally used with flat-pack furniture in order to reduce the amount of space required for packing and make the armchair large enough and comfortable. To do that, she researched inflatable furniture, which was popular in the 1960s.

Bigelow Aerospace to Send Inflatable Module to ISS

inflatable space moduleBigelow Aerospace shared its plan to test an inflatable module on the International Space Station in 2015 at the International Aeronautical Congress held last week.

Payloads that can be sent into space have traditionally been limited by cost and size. Items that were to be sent to the International Space Station had to be fit into rockets, and the ISS had to be constructed with a series of small connected modules.

A half century ago, NASA considered launching inflatable spacecraft that could be packed into small rockets, carried into space, and then inflated. The experiments were stopped after Congress cut funding for the project.

Bigelow Aerospace has revived the idea. The $17.8 million Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be transported inside the unpressurized trunk of a SpaceX Dragon capsule and carried to the ISS. The International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 will attach the BEAM to an airlock on the Tranquility module, where it will be inflated.

The BEAM has an internal volume of 16 cubic meters, which is large enough for one astronaut to work. It will be attached to the ISS for two years, but it will be sealed off most of the time and used to store instruments. Astronauts will check it once or twice a year to make sure it is not leaking, irradiated, or malfunctioning.

NASA will use the BEAM to measure radiation levels and compare them to the rest of the International Space Station to figure out how safe it is for humans. It will also allow Bigelow to see how its modules perform in low-earth orbit, which could have implications for telecommunications satellites.

If the BEAM is used successfully, Bigelow will launch an inflatable space station after 2016 built around its larger BA 330 module, which has 330 cubic meters of usable space. It will be completely self-contained and as safe as or safer than the ISS in terms of protection from impacts and radiation.

Zero Shock to Be Displayed at Trampoline Conference

IATP conferenceThe International Association of Trampoline Parks will hold its second annual conference and trade show from October 14 to 16 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The IATP conference and trade show is the only event of its kind. It offers an opportunity for business owners to share information and network with others in the trampoline park industry.

The conference includes educational sessions, an introduction to the industry for people who are new to the field, an annual business meeting, an awards banquet and keynote presentation, a trade show, networking opportunities, and certification exams.

The conference can be beneficial to owners, operators, and managers of indoor trampoline parks; entrepreneurs who are considering entering the industry; and owners of entertainment centers who would like to add trampolines to their businesses.

Zero Shock will have its products on display at the IATP conference and trade show. Zero Shock’s impact prevention system protects people from falls better than other systems. Many inflatable bags cause people to bounce back up into the air after they land, but Zero Shock is different. Its impact safety platforms cradle the impact to provide a soft landing and keep the person safe.

The Zero Shock system is the ideal choice to provide protection for amusement park rides, extreme sports, civil rescue, and commercial building. Zero Shock’s inflatable air bags are versatile and can absorb impacts from multiple people landing at the same time. After one person climbs off, the bag resets automatically so that another can jump.

Zero Shock air bags can be created in any size, and the top of the bag can undulate to make any shape. Any part of the bag is safe for landing. The pressure inside the bag can be regulated to make it as soft or firm as necessary to provide a safe landing. Since the “fingers” act as shock absorbers, Zero Shock air bags can be smaller in height and footprint than the foam pits that are used for activities such as gymnastics.