Thursday, 24 April 2014

Warm and Fuzzy.

This might sound very silly, and has nothing to do with MinecraftEdu but I just had to share something right now. It is nearing 9pm here on a Thursday night before a holiday Friday. Today I finished 3d printing the last pieces for a student project, and jokingly told the student that it was to be put together and I was to be sent photos before now. About 30 minutes ago I got my email and pictures. I will share them right here:

Email Subject: I made it on time
Email contents:

This is a clock, designed from scratch by a student at my school but not as part of any class. So this has all been done outside of class time. This project started close to 7 months ago. The student in question is a very bright young man, and was involved in a project based learning environment with the rest of his year level. I had been trying to get him to design something, anything, for the whole year, finally he decided he would like to design a clock.

GREAT!!! Here is a broken clock, pull it apart, figure out how it works and then design one. The first iteration of the gears was not quite up to scratch, the teeth of the gears would not mesh consistently or smoothly enough from the large to the smaller gears. With that taste of a challenge the student went home and did a bit of a google search, found the information he needed and redesigned all of the gears overnight. I was absolutely blown away by how well the second set of gears I printed meshed together. So I set about printing all the parts he required and today the final pieces were finally printed, there was a long delay due to the summer break and his computer having some issues.

So why do I feel all warm and fuzzy? This student has just taken something from his head, onto the computer, and then had it printed in real life. Now that is a feat, but to have what you can see in those images, for him, has got to be a pretty amazing feeling. I know I felt like I could conquer the world when my designs were finally complete, from the DNA model to the Periodic Table and those that I have partially completed since. It is a very interesting feeling to have something you created from scratch in your possession, something that came out of your head and is now in your hand.

This student has just been exposed to this same feeling, and I hope it is like a drug for him. His first design project was this, his second is to either alter the train set I designed for my daughter so that we can have an engine that is remote controlled from an old toy helicopter and its parts, or to design a remote control car from those same parts or to do something else that he is more interested in. I hope that the feeling he has right now, looking at his almost complete clock, drives him to continue designing contraptions that I will readily print 2 copies of, 1 for him and 1 for the school.

So where to from here? Once this model is completed and is working as intended we will sit down and work out an 'educational' version of this clock, where the hands, and all gears associated with those hands will be printed in a different colour, what a way to teach about gearing and ratios. I would also like to see him offer the design on the web, and if he is feeling entrepreneurial, selling the clock online, either the plain, or educational version.

OK enough babbling, thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.

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