Once each year since 2012, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has organized a series of science classes together with Hitachi Science Club, a nonprofit organization of mainly retired Hitachi employees. The aim in holding the classes, which alternate between Hiroshima and Hitachi City in Ibaraki Prefecture, is to get elementary and junior high school children interested in science and to have them experience the enjoyment derived from "monozukuri"-the traditional Japanese concept of craftsmanship.
This year's event took place in Hiroshima on August 3. The participants were 48 fourth to sixth graders and their parents from the area near MHI's Hiroshima Machinery Works. The theme of the class was "Let's experience the power of air." It was chosen in reflection of the fact that the main product manufactured at the Hiroshima Machinery Works is compressors-machines that operate using air compression technology. The class was taught by members of Hitachi Science Club.
To begin, the participants were given a demonstration of some of the interesting properties of air: namely, that air, though invisible, has weight; and that air, through compression and expansion, generates rapid changes in temperature. Witnessing these properties before their eyes, the children and their parents were equally surprised. In another experiment, a hose was inserted into a case containing Styrofoam beads. When centrifugal force was applied to the opposite end of the hose, the Styrofoam beads were sucked up and came flying out the end of the hose like beautiful snow, eliciting squeals of delight from the children.
Next, an experiment was performed to convey the power air can wield. Here, a "potato chip bazooka" made from a potato chip tube was used in a competition for the longest flight distance. The children racked their brains thinking what they should do to achieve a long flight, and the contest was a huge success.
Last, an "air cannon" made of cardboard was used to shoot "smoke rings" again and again. Through this experiment, the children observed how air flows.
Going forward, the MHI Group will continue to convey the fun of science and the appeal of "monozukuri" as part of its contributions to its local communities and development of the next generation.