Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers host Science and Engineering Festival at Gull Lake

Photo by Megan Hamman
Photo by Megan Hamman

On November 7, students from Richland Elementary, Ryan Intermediate, Gull Lake Middle School and Gull Lake High School were asked to come to the Science and Engineering Festival, featuring numerous exhibits put on by Michigan Tech students, volunteers and other sponsors.Dragon’s Breath

One of the more famous exhibits, called Dragon’s Breath, involved nitrogen gas poured over graham crackers, which reached temperatures of -220 C. Those participating took a graham cracker and ate it. The cracker felt cold and numbed fingers, like frostbite. When you exhaled, smoke came out, like a Dragon.

Fire Tornado

The volunteer started by dousing cotton balls with salt and alcohol to enhance the fire. He then lit the concoction with a lighter. The platform the flame was on spun, but the fire merely flickered and subsided from the movement, with no tornado to be seen. Then, the volunteer set a cylinder-like net over the fire, and spun it again. This time, the fire twisted itself into a miniature, braid-like tornado.

Invisible Fire Extinguisher

In this exhibit, baking soda and vinegar was poured into a beaker and a flame was lit. The mixture was poured near the fire but never left the beaker. The flame went out when the baking soda and vinegar mixture came in close contact.


Participants in this exhibit were given a pen wired with a battery along with graphite made from copper, and were asked to draw a picture. Once finished, the participate could touch the picture with both their finger and the pen, which would form a complete circuit using that person’s body.


The Cubelets were small three-dimensional cubes that could maintain and release an electric signal, similar to a circuit and connected to other Cubelets magnetically. Each Cubelet had a unique feature to it, like a fan, or a speaker, etc. Cubelets connected to form a complex system of circuits performing multiple tasks.

Ballistics Car

As the demonstrator pulled a string on the plastic car, the car moved forward slightly while shooting a plastic ball out of its top. The plastic ball moved with the car and fell back into the apparatus that shot it. The act of the ball falling back into the car gave it enough energy, equal to the act of pulling the string, to move in the opposite direction and shot the ball again, perpetually causing the car and the ball to move back and forth with limitless energy.

Musical Fruit

Musical Fruit involved a set of bananas lined up in a row, connected by certain wires hooked up to a computer program that linked each banana to a key on a piano. Participants would touch any of the bananas to play a note on the program. The bananas and the computer form an incomplete circuit, and when a person touches the banana, they complete the circuit using their own body, and the program plays a note. This works even if a person is holding the wire, instead of it being hooked to a banana, and holding hands with another person.

Chladni Plates

Chladni Plates manipulated bass sounds with salt on a circular platform. The platform was large and round and connected to a device that played certain frequencies of sound. The salt formed circles on the platform that varied in size and shaped based on the number of Hertz used. The higher the frequency in Hertz, the smaller the circles on the platform. The exhibit demonstrated some of the more basic properties of sound waves.

Air Zoo

The Air Zoo’s exhibit at the Science and Engineering Festival featured a very enthusiastic employee who demonstrated the use of quadcopters. The ones he showed could fly high up and far away, and were only $50. These remote controlled devices were seemingly quick to respond to commands, with little interference suffered, even in a crowded room.

Vortex Cannon

Vortex Cannon demonstrated a very simple property of air displacement. Smoke was put inside a sealed cardboard box via smoke machine, and through a small round opening in the box, smoke was blown out of it when both sides of the box were struck.

Abigail Stark

Abigail Stark

My name is Abigail Stark. I am a sophomore and a first year staff member. I enjoy writing opinion and review articles, and look forward to a successful year!

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