Best Moments from Live in Orbit (just last week!)

underwater photo of a shark

Our daily online STEM show, Live in Orbit, has been running for over four weeks! We’ve had Orbiters from over 31 different countries tuning in each weekday to a different STEM expert every day. 

We’ve had parents tell us that their kids have been explaining DNA in different fruits and vegetables to them over dinner, that they’re proactively adding the homework to their ‘To Do’ list, and they’re excited and engaged. 

Just last week, we learned how planes fly, how dogs find missing humans, and the recipe for success on a 2000 km kayak trip. Read on for a quick roundup!

If you think your child would like to be an Orbiter, simply register to access all of the replays and watch live from four different time zones. 

How dogs find missing humans

with former military working dog trainer, Kirk Foster

Australian Army veteran, Kirk Foster taught us how dogs find missing people. It’s officially a scientific fact that dogs are better than humans. 

Humans have about 6,000,000 smell receptors in their noses. Dogs have about 300,000,000. When a dog breathes in through their nose, the air passes over little hairs called cilia. The information is sent to the olfactory bulb in the brain (which is much bigger in dogs than humans). That tells the dog what the smell is. 

Humans lose a lot of skin cells wherever they go. About 200,000,000 skin cells every single hour. Dogs can smell these skin cells when they fall on the ground. Bacteria starts to interact and eat the skin cells, which creates a gas that the dog smells, sometimes from many kilometres away.

If you’re interested in a classroom lesson that teaches science, has a dog, and means we finally know what’s going on at a CSI crime scene, take a look at our Live in Orbit lessons

Get started with Live in Orbit!

Daily online STEM show – free or pay what you can.

The science behind how planes fly

with Aerospace Engineer, Ruth Harrison
Illustration of how air molecules work to lift a plane

How planes fly is  a source of constant bafflement and wonder for a lot of people. 

The thrust of the argument is that we need lift. The wing of a plane is an aerodynamic piece of engineering that enables air molecules to lift it up. 

The air molecules hit the wing. Those going over the top travel faster than those going underneath. The air molecules collect underneath the wing and they separate on top  of the wing. 

The high pressure of molecules underneath the wing pushes the wing up. And that’s how we get lift.

To learn about rockets and birds, and to try out the principles of aerodynamics at home with paper, head to Live in Orbit and watch the replay. 

Homework highlights from our Orbiters

A 2000 km kayak with no single-use plastic

with Lucy Graham and Mathilde Gordon, founders of Passage Ventures
Lucy Graham and Mathilde Gordon in Alaska on their kayak trip - Live in Orbit

Do you know how long it takes to travel from Alaska to Vancouver Island in a kayak?

3 months. 

Do you know how long it takes using no single-use plastic?

Ok, trick question, it’s still 3 months but it’s a very long time to be in a kayak and a very long journey to not use any single-use packaging to store things. 

That’s exactly what Mathilde Gordon and Lucy Graham did when they took on the challenge highlighting the huge amount of plastic in our oceans, a lot of which comes from food packaging.

The recipe for success should you ever find yourself taking a 2000 km kayak trip:

1. Cook the food
2. Dehydrate the food
3. Wrap it three times in paper
4. Put it in your dry bag
5. Kayak for three months

This will last about 5 months and the paper can be used to light fires (and soak up water from a boot if need be).

Inside killer cells

with Immunologist, Dr Mezida Saed
cytoskeletons of human cells

There’s a few processes that go into immunity but let’s get straight to the juicy stuff – cell killing. Our cell’s cytoskeleton might look like a very mesmerising screensaver (above) but this dynamism is how they work incredibly hard at finding things that are unhealthy. 

They deliver a ‘poison packet’ that kills the infected cells and helps your body overcome infection.

Humoral immunity, on the other hand, is a fancy way of saying antibodies – Y-shaped proteins that help our body destroy antigens. Vaccinations are a great way to get your body making these antibodies.

Cellular immunity is a fancy way of saying cells that eat bacteria. The immune cells consume the bacteria and digestive enzymes shred it into harmless particles.

Taking a bite into shark science

with Melissa Cristina Marquez (and Sir Chops, the stuffed shark) who study shark habitat use
Drone image capture of a shark in a nursery

The best way to study the habitat that sharks live in is…by shark.

Drones and underwater electronic devices join forces to give scientists a comprehensive view of shark habitats.

Scientists can place underwater electronic devices on the shark’s dorsal fin that tell them every time the shark pops out of the water and information about where the shark has been, how deep it has gone, how cold or warm the water is, and a lot more.  

Drone footage from above also tells scientists like Melissa what species the shark is, what direction they are heading in (towards reef, sand etc), and when they go there. It also gives them some amazing work photos like the one above. 

From all of this information, Melissa can analyse and put together a much deeper picture of shark behaviour in their habitat and figure out what they’re doing there.

Get started with Live in Orbit!

Daily online STEM show – free or pay what you can.

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