Middle School students in the Science Club have been exploring the solar system by using a simulator built by teacher Dalton Lobo Dias.
“I built this model in the I-Lab,” Dalton noted. “It simulates general relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity. Einstein’s theory built on Newton’s work, and accounts for several observed effects that can’t be explained by Newton's model.”
This simulator demonstrates a variety of solar system phenomena, including gravitational waves, orbits, black holes, asteroid belts, binary star systems, gravitational lensing, slingshot "gravitational assist" maneuvers, time dilation, wormholes, and dark energy — “and why Einstein was right!” Dalton added.
This video shows a simulation of two orbiting black holes creating
gravitational waves that spread out at the speed of light across space.
“This is so cool because it simulates our universe,” seventh grader Lucy D. said. “It’s easier to show 4-D in 2-D, but with this simulator we can show three dimensions and how space can be warped by mass.”
The simulator is able to emulate three-dimensional space as a 2-D fabric of space-time. Dalton added, “We cannot show the time dilation effect with this simulation, but you can imagine time being part of the fabric of space-time. Where space is stretched, so is time. Therefore, a clock near a black hole would ‘tick’ slower relative to a clock far away.”
“Our Science Club is all about special projects,” Dalton said. “Students follow their passions, and sometimes I’ll plant seeds of things we can explore further, or recruit them to build on past projects. As a teacher, I’m looking for that spark in my students.”
In addition to exploring the universe, students in the Science Club have built rockets and have heard from a variety of special guests. Students also present science talks to one another on any topic of interest, from ants to rocket simulations.
Lucy added, “I’m in the Science Club because I’m interested in things like this: learning how the universe works.”
The Middle School Science Club meets every Thursday in Hillsborough in D101 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. Weekly attendance is not mandatory, and students are able drop by for a few minutes, enjoy their lunch, or stay for the whole time. Lower School students are welcome to join as well. If you or someone you know might be an interesting speaker, please reach out to Dalton at firstname.lastname@example.org.