STEAM to Fuel Your Weekend: June 24

Between school, homework, practice and spending time with loved ones, it’s easy to miss out on the latest in science, technology, engineering, art and math. But don’t worry, Thinkery’s got you covered. Here are some of our favorite STEAM discoveries from the previous week. It’s fuel for your weekend.
STEAM to Fuel Your Weekend - Saffire
Photo credit: NASA.

What happens when a fire starts in space? Uh…

Well, NASA wanted to find out, too. With several important missions planned in the near future—including a manned mission to Mars—astronauts want to be prepared for anything and everything that can happen in outer space. And that includes space fires.

On Tuesday, NASA began the largest-ever intentional fire in outer space. The experiment helped NASA understand how fire spreads in a microgravity environment. Click here to see how fire behaves in space!

Meet Mosha, an Asian elephant. Mosha is the first elephant to receive a prosthetic limb.

When Mosha was two years old, she lost her right foreleg in a landmine explosion. Therdchai Jivacate, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and inventor, designed an artificial leg for Mosha—the first-ever prosthetic limb created especially for her species. The leg weighs 33 pounds and is made of thermoplastic, steel and elastomer.

STEAM to Fuel Your Weekend - OperationShooting iStockphoto
Photo credit: OperationShooting/iStockphoto.

Plastic is the leading type of discarded material in the world, and the statistics are scary. 95 percent of plastic is thrown out after being used just once. Eight million tons of garbage end up in our oceans every year. It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our seas. Finding a viable solution to our global plastic pollution problem is crucial.

Enter polyethylenes, the most abundant plastic in the world. They’re used to make food packaging, plastic bags, water bottles and more. They also make up about 60 percent of the plastics in landfills, where they rarely degrade. Decreasing the prevalence of polyethylenes has been top-of-mind for scientists and environmentalists for decades.

Now, scientists have found a way to turn trash into treasure. They’ve developed a way to break down the chemical structure of polyethylenes, converting them into fuel. It’s a small step, but it’s also an incredibly necessary step. Learn more about this innovative process.

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