By Mr. Randy Siniard (RDECOM)October 18, 2010
The students at Mountain Gap Elementary School weren't just thinking about what they were going to be doing on the weekend since this was Friday. They were having a Science Day.
The Aviation and Missile, Research, Development and Engineering Center had a display headed by Dr. Amy Grover, Chief, Manufacturing S&T Division, Engineering Directorate.
The display was an infrared camera hooked up to a television and an overhead projector which projected an infrared image onto two screens and the television.
The first children who came through the display area were from the second grade and they reacted much like you would expect children to do when presented with something exciting and new -- with screams and astonishment.
The teachers in the room clapped their hands two times which garnered the children's attention then three times which the children did as well and they quieted down paying complete attention.
Grover introduced Alex Palmer, an Electrical Engineering co-op student from Auburn University, who works as an Engineering Aide in the Infrared and Optical Technology Division, Weapons Development and Integration Directorate, AMRDEC.
Palmer told the students about how the human eye is only capable of viewing a very small set of wavelengths of energy, known as the visible spectrum. Next he explained that infrared camera "sees" outside that spectrum. It was at this point that he turned on the camera and showed the children the image.
The first thing that happened, of course, was the children were excited and their hands went in the air flailing above their heads as if they were on a roller coaster making its first descent down the track.
Palmer had the teachers pick four children to participate in an experiment using ice. This experiment would show the children how the camera couldn't "see" the cold.
The children rubbed the ice on their skin and hair to show that the infrared camera saw cold areas as voids represented by black spots. This demonstrated that only heat was registered on the camera in the grey to brilliant white image that was displayed.
After the experiment Palmer asked the children how did they think an infrared camera could be used'
The children thought for a minute before answering.
One little boy answered the police would use it to see in the dark.
A little girl said that the military used it to see tanks.
One child said a fireman could see people in a building after the fire was out.
Obviously they understood it was used to see heat.
Palmer had taught these second graders about the infrared spectrum.
Now for the Kindergarteners!