Robert Delbeke

Robert's Photos

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Electric Car Photos

April 20th, 2009

December 14th, 2009

Meet Robert Delbeke from Livonia, Michigan

Retired engineer Robert Delbeke is making good use of his years of experience and knowledge. He is volunteering his time with the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance to teach young people in the Math, Science, and Technology Program all about developing alternative fuels. With this grant, the seventy-year-old Deacon hopes to expand the program to include even more 5th through 9th grade students, teaching them to “develop, build, and test model airplanes, rockets, and racecars using alternative fuels.” Besides focusing on reducing our national dependency on oil, this program enhances the students’ passion for scientific solutions to everyday problems.

Born and raised in Detroit, Deacon Delbeke retired from ALCOA as an applications engineer. He and his wife Carol recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they have three daughters.

His request of $13,000 will provide his students with the items listed below…

• Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Exp. Car (6)
• Steam Engine Propulsion Kit (3)
• Elenco Snap Circuit Set (3)
• Knex Solar Energy Set (6)
• Knex Forces and Energy Motion Set (6)
• Hydrogen Fuel Racer Hammacher (20)
• Estes Nitrogen Start-up Kit (20)
• Elenco Electric Car (20)
• Energizer Lithium Batteries (100)
• Paasche Air Compressor with accessories
• Dremel Scroll Saw, Stand & Blades
• Dremel Variable Speed Moto Tool With Attachments
• Versa Tip Multi Purpose Tool (6)
• Estes Alt. Measuring Instrument (3)
• Estes Bulk Engine Kit (10)
• Knex simple Machine Kit
• Knex Space Exploration Set (2)

I’m not sure exactly what we’re buying but I’m pretty sure he does.

Diary Starts Here

July 16, 2010
Robert sent us another update...

I can't believe it's July already. We are in full swing with our summer program! I am enclosing some current pictures to keep you informed of our progress & accomplishments. I hope you like the "Jenny Special Racing Machine." Peace, Bob Delbeke

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May 10, 2010
Robert mailed us three essays from students who have completed their go-carts, and who have also had their first experience driving a motor vehicle...

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March 30, 2010
The Michigan Catholic newspaper recently wrote a great article on Robert and his Tuskegee Spirits...

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October 29, 2009
Robert and the kids sent me a thank you card and few new photos...

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August 27, 2009
Robert's year long program to design and build a Soap Box Derby Race Car culminated with the students proudly displaying their work at the 15th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

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July 28, 2009
Robert sent us an update on his summer program...

"The students are working very hard in our summer program, assembling model V-8 engines. Each engine has functioning pistons, cams and crankshafts. We hope to display some of these models at the Woodward Dream Cruise in August. I am sending you some photos of new volunteers. These helpers and fathers are essential to the success and future growth of our program!"

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February 18, 2009
Sister Catherine DeSantis sent us pictures today of the "Tuskegee Spirits" in action. When we asked why the kids in Bob's Math, Science, and Technology Program called themselves the "Tuskegee Spirits," Sister Catherine shared the following story with us...

"Maybe you didn't hear the story about the couple who stopped one Saturday afternoon when the kids were testing their airplanes on a corner lot near the church where the program is held. To make a long story short, they were both pilots. They have a 2-seater Cesna at Detroit City Airport. They, subsequently, took each of the kids up in their plane. It took about four Saturdays, but they all went up and it was a wonderful experience. They taught them about the instrument panel, how to do the checklist before taking off, etc. One of the days that we were at the airport, a Tuskegee glider was in the same hangar. The grandson of a Tuskegee Airman was taking it out that day. He sat them all down and told them the story of the Tuksegee Airmen. The kids were really taken with the story and decided to call themselves the Tuskegee Spirits. It was a wonderful experience that I don't believe happened by accident."

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February 3, 2009
Bob sent us more pictures recently...

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October 3 , 2008
"I can hardly believe that I no longer will have to shop at the Dollar Store trying to make something creative out of nothing," wrote Bob. "As you already know the education system in Detroit is broken so the little improvement in student skills through our hands on program is grately appreciated by the children and their parents."

October 2 , 2008
Bob was quick to order his "Forces and Energy Sets" so the students can construct and test 5 new models demonstrating the transfer of motion, then collect and record important data and trends. The new fuel cell cars will enable the students to begin to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, thus creating new energy. Here is a photo of a very happy instructor opening up his first delivery.

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Bob was also kind enough to send us a explanation of how some of the new tools will be used. It is titled "How High Is High???"

As grant recipient Robert Delbeke is searching through these boxes, he is hoping to find the Altitude Measuring Instrument provided by the Jenny Jones Foundation. In the past whenever the students at St. Elizabeth Center launched their home-made rockets, Pastor Norm Thomas would ask," Bob , how high did they fly?"
" I would often have to refer to the approximate height printed on the rocket engine specification sheet and tell Fr. Norm an estimated height. Now, thanks to Jenny, we have an instrument to measure the exact angle from the ground to the apex of the flight trajectory. With this new data, students can apply basic trigonometry functions and calculate the exact altitude of each rocket flight, thus evaluating improvements in their design. We are now capable of responding to Fr. Norm's future questions and the students will have a future in mathematics using these tools and development of their new skills. Thanks Jenny!"

PS. It is written in scripture:" The skies proclaim the justice of our God." I believe the rockets and students imagination can take us there!

September 20, 2008
I was able to surprise Bob right in the middle of his class at St. Elizabeth Church with some help from Sister Catherine DeSantis. This way all his students and their family members could share in the excitement. It was fun hearing the applause and cheers over the phone when I gave Bob the good news. He was so gracious about receiving this grant and said it would help the team continue their experiments with alternative fuels. Teaching in the shadows of the GM Engineering Facility which is just 2 miles away, Bob told me his students have made great strides already and with this new funding, maybe they can one day catch up to GM. What a great way to share his knowledge and experience.

9/20/08: Jenny & Damon wrote... "Congratulations on becoming a part of our special Teachers' Month and for realizing the importance of technology for today’s students."