Using Tinkercad, a website that offers easy-to-use 3D design tools, I recently constructed a model of the USS Enterprise, a starship from the television show Star Trek. This was relatively simply, as the ship is mainly made out of geometric shapes such as cylinders and ovals.
Once I had designed the Enterprise, I began the printing process on our Ultimaker 2+. I chose to print my design upside down so that it would have a more sturdy base throughout the printing process. It took about 13 hours to print in its entirety.
Once the Enterprise had been printed, I removed the support layers that had held it in place during the printing, and then sanded down the rough areas that were left from the stripped supports. Once I had gotten it adequately smooth, I painted some colors, windows and labels on my model to make it look like an authentic starship.
Last week, a two classmates and I created a miniature set of playable instruments using Makey-Makeys, simple invention kits that assign keyboard commands to whatever you hook the Makey-Makey up to. First, a piano was constructed out of knives that we took from our school cafeteria. We connected a wire using alligator clips to five knives (the Makey-Makey only had room for the keys A,S,D,F,G) and opened GarageBand . The “Musical Typing” function on GarageBand allowed us to play the notes C,D,E,F, and G with whatever sounds GarageBand provided.
We did the same for a tiny drum kit made out of Legos and tin foil, complete with a bass, snare and high hat, as well a guitar made out of cardboard and wire.
Eventually, we were able to record our instruments and compose a little song:
Tasked with designing a Rube Goldberg machine using Lego WeDos, our class gathered into groups of two to make individuals contraptions that would eventually work together as one system. We were provided an array of tools such as motion sensors, motors, toy cars, Legos, and essentially whatever else we could find in the vicinity of our class.
We began experimenting with the WeDos, using Scratch to turn the motors when the motion sensor was tripped. Eventually, my group attached a pendulum to the spinning motor, which swung around to push a car along a track that we constructed out of Legos and cardboard (Diagram 1). To give the car an extra boost of speed at the end of the track, we attached another motor with a large spinning tire that would graze the top of the car and propel it forward (Diagram 2).
Once the other groups had completed their contraptions, we got to work connecting everything. The group before us needed to trip our motion sensor, and we had to trip the next groups’. We positioned our sensor close to a ramp that had been constructed by the group before ours. Their machine pushed a car down the ramp, running it directly past our sensor. To trigger the next groups sensor, we let our car hit a line of lego doors, which fell upon each other like dominoes until the final one struck a lego man, which fell through a makeshift funnel and landed immediately in front of the motion sensor.
After a bit of organizing amongst groups, a few failed attempts, and some final readjustments, the Rube Goldberg machine was ready for a successful run. The first groups’ systems went smoothly, as did our car pendulum/Lego door dominos system, and the final groups’ system of catapults miraculously worked perfectly. The final result was nothing short of legendary:
Although the project did not accomplish anything outside of entertainment, I did enjoy the chance to solve problems in creative ways and learn a bit about the WeDos. If I could do the project again, I would like to push the limits of the WeDos a little more, maybe think more “outside the box”. Most of the groups did some variation of using the motors to push a car forward, and there are so many different ways to use even something as simple as WeDos. This is definitely something that I’ll think about going forward in the class.