As any 'world schooler' or 'road schooling family' knows... you sometimes have to seize a moment and take the opportunity to make learning fun... so where better than the beach at Orbitur's Rio Alto campsite on a crisp, sunny morning in December! And a chance to discover some of the Science work we learnt in Da Vinci's museum in Florence, the Science Museum in Munich, Germany and more recently in Portugal's Science Centre in Lagos
So today's topic was an extension on our 'green energy' work from earlier this year... but this time we were going to add some physics in... How does a helicopter fly?? What makes it the most versatile of all airborne inventions created by man so far? In fact it has a certain similarity to a BumbleBee... so we're told..
So where's the Science?
So think about these 4 important factors - Lift, Drag, Thrust, Weight & Force...The Force (little bit of physics road schooling here!) needed to keep an aircraft in the air is called ‘Lift' It is produced by air flowing over the wings. The shape of the wings is designed so that the air flowing over the top surface has to travel further, and it therefore travels faster, than the air under the wing. (Imagine (Don't Try!) putting you arm out of the window of a moving car. You will feel your arm start to rise upwards, and this is due to 'Lift'.)
An engine produces ‘Thrust,’ which gets you moving, so that air flows over the wings of the plane. Thrust also solves ‘Drag,’ which is the force which tries to oppose the motion through the air. The other force is ’Weight.’ and the weight of any aircraft determines how much lift is required to get it into the air.
So what about Helicopters?
Ok, in truth a helicopter is more complex, however the fundamental principles of flight are the same. The rotor blades of a helicopter are identical to the wings of an aeroplane –when air is blown over them, 'Lift' is produced. The crucial difference is that the flow of air is produced by rotating the wings – or rotor blades – rather than by moving the whole aircraft. As they start to spin, the air flowing over them produces lift, and this can cause the helicopter to rise into the air. So, the engine is used to turn the blades, and the turning blades produce the required lift. Very simple!
What experiments did we try?
In truth we had fun, a lot of fun!!! But what else does Orbitur's Campsite at Rio Alto have to add to it's amazing private beach (accessible by cool tunnels from the campsite!) and what about the nearest town at Póvoa de Varzim.
Well the campsite is excellent, we don't just mean 'above average', we mean it's excellent and we can imagine it being even better in the summer months as all of the sanitary facilities are built to be usable in these temperatures (think vented blocks or outdoor facilities)... it has a separate games room with some amazing go kart simulators, ping pong and pool tables... an outdoor swimming pool and sports arena...
But in truth its probably the well laid out design of this campsite that attracts us, a nice round series of pitches offers a great opportunity to feel part of something, not just tucked away in a corner... whilst the reception area and excellent staff make it feel welcoming and inviting! We'll certainly look to return if we can get across next June.. just to see how it compares to December... but with the afernoon slipping away, we packed up and headed into Póvoa de Varzim to see what we might find...
The knowledgable campsite staff had told us all about an annual St Peter Festival in late June where the people of the town dress up in their North, South, East, West colours respectively... some Blue/White, some Red/White and they have an amazing street party... full of dishes of sardines, local music and processions through the town... when we stepped into the old town, we could certainly imagine them passing the amazing old churches or the bustling harbour-side marina... There's certainly plenty to see including the Casino da Póvoa, Almada Square, the 'Passeio Alegre / Happy Street' or the city park with it's lake and outdoor activities (zip wire!!)
We'd hoped we could have raced back past the old aquaduct that links Póvoa de Varzim to the nearby Vila do Conde and up the Rates mountian to catch a setting sun from the amazing viewpoint at S Felix Hill... but as we passed by the marina, we couldn't help but be transfixed by this scene above... so with the girls enjoying a stroll down the 'Happy Street' we savoured perhaps our last Portuguese sunset before we head northwards towards Caminha and then the Spanish city of 'Santiago de Compostela'
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