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Guest Post- Origami Salami! June 8, 2012

Posted by stem4kidsinfo in Uncategorized.

This week I’ve got a guest post by Calista Frederick-Jaskiewicz about her blog, Origami Salami!  Enjoy!


Origami Salami



     The acronym STEM is a hot buzzword in education today. But if you ever made a paper balloon, airplane, or crane, then you have already done some serious STEM work through the science of folding, aka origami. But did you know that scientists are using traditional origami techniques in significant STEM research programs in innovative ways?


     So, what does origami have to do with STEM? Just think about the many things that fold in a natural and beautiful way, or possibly misfold with rather ugly and bad results.


     For example, the hundreds of thousands of proteins in the human body must fold in particular sequences in order to perform their assigned jobs well in order to maintain a healthy body. When any of them mis-fold, they begin to perform new, unexpected, and possibly disease causing or otherwise destructive functions; many proteins misfold and clump, resulting in the same issue. Many cancers are actually clumped, mis-folded proteins. Some other diseases caused by misfolded proteins include Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Mad Cow disease, and most cancers, just to name a few. There is even an online computer game called FoldIt, in which international teams of gamers attempt to race against the clock and unravel the mystery of a given misfolded protein.


     Efficient, self-folding DNA origami continues to amaze researchers who are hopeful that studies will enable development of “nanorobots” capable of delivering curative drugs to cancer sites within the human body.


     Here’s yet another great example of STEM-agami: aerospace engineering has a very deep history of studying traditional origami techniques. The Wright brothers experimented with the paper dart a year before the Wright Flyer prototype was launched on the beach at Kitty Hawk.


     NASA is still big into folding. For example, Curiosity, the rover currently en route to Mars, is carefully folded up inside its heat shield; we will see it gracefully unfold on the red planet when it lands there in August 2012. And while crumple folding is certainly an interesting topic, rest assured, NASA left nothing to chance when plotting, computing, and producing computer animations of the manner in which Curiosity will unfold on the surface of Mars!


     Do you know anybody who has every needed a stent to prop open a vessel within the human body, such as an artery? The new stent is based on the principle of the origami waterbomb (water balloon) base. In fact, the origami stent structure inflates through a small opening just like the paper balloon does.


     So, paper balloons, paper airplanes, and paper cranes are not kids stuff. STEM studies are all around you. No lab needed! Consider origami for your next project. Happy folding, and see you on www.facebook.com/OrigamiSalami1 or www.origamisalami.com!



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