Geek-Dad: Making a (paper) CubeSat

Clyde Space, makers of the UKube-1 CubeSat have a papercraft version of a satellite on their website. I decided to build it with my children.

One of the major influences on me becoming a geek was my dad… his enthusiasm for computers and technology, and for Science Fiction (particularly Doctor Who) had a lasting effect on me as a child.
When it comes to my own two children, I want to impart some of my passion to them. I’m not particularly worried if they become geeks, but I want to expose them to some of the things I enjoy to give them a chance to explore whether they enjoy them too.
So yesterday I decided to do a little project with them. As it turned out, my son had to go out to one of the clubs he’s in, but my daughter was home for a while. What did we decide to tackle? Building a paper CubeSat.

A what?

A paper CubeSat. CubeSats are tiny little satellites – UKube-1, the first satellite to be built entirely in Scotland – comes in at around 10 x 10 x 34cm. Now, the fact that UKube-1 was built in Scotland by Clyde Space is part of the reason I decided to use their papercraft CubeSat as a project. See, we live in Scotland, and I thought the fact that the satellite was built fairly locally might turn out to be interesting to the children as we were building the paper version.
I’ve also decided that I want to show my children how to safely use a craft knife since allowing them to explore these things in a supervised environment is infinitely preferable to having them do it on their own sometime later.
So we downloaded the paper CubeSat template from Clyde Space, got the craft knife and cutting mat out, and sat down to a little project. My daughter, A, was asking questions all the way through: What’s a CubeSat? What’s a Satellite? What is it used for? These are made in Glasgow? Can we get one?
I really enjoyed answering the questions, and enjoyed imparting a little practical and safety information at the same time.
Want to see the results? These are the paper CubeSats A and I made – click to enlarge:
Paper CubeSat
I’m looking forward to doing it again with my son – no doubt we’ll have loads of questions again. If you want to know more about Clyde Space, check out their website.
If you have children, have you tackled any geeky projects with them? Why not share your story in the comments? We’d love to hear from you.
Note: If you’re worried that I have knives lying around the house, I don’t. Any knives or sharp objects are stored safely out of reach of my children – I am, however, taking the opportunity to show them how to safely use a knife under supervision. Don’t panic 🙂