Before the first semester drew to a close, Blair magnet students completed one last project before finishing their year-long engineering class. This final project was to build model sea gliders, miniatures of a submarine design used by the Navy.
The real-life sea gliders are useful because they use very little energy. Theoretically, they could cross the entire Atlantic Ocean without physical human operation.
Sea gliders don’t use a propeller or jet like regular submarines. Instead, they have a weight inside that moves backwards and forwards as water is let in and out. When water is let in, the weight moves forwards, and the front of the glider begins to tilt downwards. Fins on top of the submarine force the glider to go forward as well as down, propelling it ahead.
When the weight reaches the front of the glider, water is released and the weight move towards the back of the glider. The fins move the glider forward as well as up. This process, repeated over and over throughout the glider’s trip, moves the gliders in a wave, “flying” up and down as it moves.
Blair magnet students built models of these gliders from kits designed specifically for high school students. The final product resembled a plastic bottle with 3-D printed parts attached by wires enabling the glider to work.
Blair students spent over a week working on the project, stripping wires, drilling, soldering, and finally creating fins to make a finished project. Each of the four engineering classes put together a part of the model, together creating a finished product. “It was a chance to do something with our hands rather than listening to a lecture,” said junior Anna Ou.
The sea gliders were not just built as a Blair project; they will soon be distributed to several other Montgomery County high schools studying oceans and rivers. The miniature gliders will be able to cross the Potomac river, making them a great tool for high school research. “It was cool to build something that you know other people will use,” said Josephine Yu.
Article and photo by MoCo Student staff writer Yaelle Goldschlag of Blair High School