Former Teacher Creates Inflatable Planetarium to Teach Kids about Astronomy

Inflatable Planetarium

Former middle school teacher Lauren Ard used her craftiness to teach kids about the constellations. After her school did not have the funds for a field trip to the planetarium, she had to find a way to bring the universe to her students.

Ard wanted her students to experience astronomy in a fun and exciting way so she went online to find ideas. She happened to come across an inflatable planetarium and she made one herself. The inflatable planetarium is circular in form and made from a black out fabric. A fan is used to inflate it and there is a projector on the inside that displays the different constellations. It is 12 feet in diameter and can fit up to 15 people inside it.

Her custom inflatable turned out to be a big success. She used it with her own class and then over time was doing astronomy presentations for events, friends, families, and a few other schools. She was doing the presentations for free but after she heard that the local science museum wouldn’t be doing their astronomy show anymore she saw it as a way to raise money.

“I heard that the Flandrau Science Center had cuts in funding and they used to do 30 minute presentations with their inflatable planetarium for people where they were charged $130. They had waitlists, but because of cuts in funding they no longer offer it. I wouldn’t charge that much and I’m not trying to get money from public schools, but more it’s a way for me to use my teaching talents.”

Knowing she had the opportunity to do more astronomy presentations she started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so she could build a bigger and better inflatable planetarium. She hopes to raise $4,500, but she has already received great support and has received over $5,500 in donations.

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FAA Wary about Inflatable Seatbelts on Airplanes

Inflatable Seatbelts

The Federal Aviation Administration heard that airplane company Boeing is planning on installing inflatable seatbelts on their airplanes. The FAA has already asked Boeing to give feedback on the plan. The inflatable belts are “designed to limit the forward excursion of occupants in the event of an accident.”

The inflatable seatbelts behave similarly to the airbags you would find in cars. The difference is that the new seatbelts for airplanes inflate away from the person in the seat, instead of at them. Car companies such as Ford have already started to develop and incorporate inflatable seatbelts into their vehicles. The technology is relatively new to aviation, so the government is still seeking comments on the proposed rules.

“While the automotive industry has extensive experience in demonstrating the benefits of using inflatable airbags, the airplane environment presents unique and additional challenges.” – FAA notice

The FAA is looking to get more information from Boeing about the inflatable seatbelts they want to install in some of their planes. The FAA is somewhat wary about them due to the lack of information on how such a device would work in aviation. The notice by the FAA disclosed their concern by saying;

“In automobiles, airbags are a supplemental system and work in conjunction with upper torso restraints. In airplanes, inflatable lapbelts are the sole means of injury protection for occupants.”

There are also many other elements that come into play when using this technology on planes that concern the FAA. This includes the potential complexities presented by kids sitting in child safety seats, infants being held by adults, pregnant women, and the potential for inadvertent deployment of an inflatable seatbelt. The FAA is also worried that an inflated seatbelt would impede a passenger from getting out of their seat quickly during an emergency landing. It will likely be a while before we see this inflatable technology on airplanes.

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Amazing Inflatable Art from around the World

Inflatable art has a playful feel about it. It can remind us of birthday party balloon animals and bounce houses. Many artists from around the world have recently worked to create amazing inflatable sculptures that are unlike anything you have ever seen. Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing inflatable art ever created.

Art Attacks by Filthy Luke, Manchester, United Kingdom
As a part of his “Art Attacks” series, Filthy Luke created giant inflatable tentacles that seemed to be coming out of the windows of a building in Manchester. His playful art turned the city into a scene from a cheesy horror film.

Art Attacks

Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman, Hong Kong
Just recently, a giant inflatable rubber ducky was seen floating in Victoria Harbor. The giant inflatable dwarfed the boats in the harbor and after it was deflated it was brought back by popular demand.

Inflatable Rubber Duck

Sacrilege by Jeremy Deller, Hong Kong
The 20 foot inflatable version of Stonehenge made its debut at the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art last year in Hong Kong. Visitors were able to bounce on the inflatable surface and touch the inflatable stone blocks that make up the historic landmark.

Inflatable Stonehenge

Balloon Dog by Paul McCarthy, New York
Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable balloon dog stole the show at the Frieze Art Fair in New York. It stood 80 feet tall and was modeled after Jeff Koon’s steel balloon animals.

Balloon Dog

Katie Balloons, Washington D.C.
Katie Balloons creates balloon art, does balloon shows, and even makes inflatable clothing. The D.C. native has created some of the most amazing art, entirely out of balloons. In this piece she brings the occupation of a firefighter to life with colorful latex.

Katie Balloons

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Inflatable hangar Built for Plane with Giant Wingspan

Inflatable Hangar

Finding a hangar to house an aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not an easy task. The Solar Impulse team had to design an inflatable mobile hangar in order to have a place to store their solar-powered plane on their 2015 circumnavigation of the globe.

The Solar Impulse aircraft has such a light weight that it is very susceptible to damage from inclimate weather conditions. The team anticipated that every airport they visit on their trip around the world would unlikely have the means to house their plane. The inflatable hangar Solar Powered Planethat they designed can be taken with them to whatever airport they land at.

The wingspan of the Solar Impulse aircraft is 208 feet. The inflatable hangar was built to have a length of 289 feet, width of 105 feet, and a height of 36 feet. The mobile inflatable hangar is constructed from a textile material that is strong enough to withstand winds of up to 62 mph. At the same time, the material is thin enough to be translucent enough to allow sunlight to come through to charge the aircraft’s batteries.

The inflatable hangar had to be deployed for the first time this year, when the hangar it was supposed to be housed in at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was damaged by a storm. The hangar is supposed to take 12 people six hours to deploy, but the team was able to get it up in just a few hours

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