Tag Archives: math

Move It!

Yesterday, we went to a STEAM exhibit at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. It showcases some of the work by Sarah and Jon Vanderbeek of Sweet Spot Studio.  In the room there were many dinosaur toys, cars and airplanes, and many work-in-progress toys. The intent of the exhibit was to show the development process and how Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) work together to bring products to life. In the middle of the room, stood a giant word, STEAM and on it was a obstical course for a large orange ball, which once you turned a wheel the ball traveled down a ramp, through a loopy loop, up another ramp, around a large M, down through a large tube and using air under high pressure, rolling across a trigger which made a small foam rocket shoot to the ceiling! Finally, the ball rolled back where it originally started. We did this several times yipping and jumping up and down every single time! It was SO fun!!

Although fun, we only saw gender specific toys, so we would’ve appreciated just a touch of diversity! As you might know from our blog posts, we love science and building and art and math, so this was the perfect exhibition for us!

IMG_3167

IMG_3168.IMG_3169IMG_3172IMG_3174IMG_3175IMG_3165FullSizeRenderIMG_3176IMG_3178

Maker Time!

As one of our final end-of-the-year projects, we’re learning to create 3D PRINTS on our MakerBot!!! How cool is that?!?! We’ve been making “simple” things on the computer on a professional design program called SketchUp. We’re designing all kinds of things.

For her first print, Olive created a yacht for her minuscule Polly Pockets complete with outdoor seating, a kitchen and guest bedroom! I started by designing a cute character for my ‘cute character collection’. I have since started working on prostsetics for dolls with lost arms or hands. We are learning so many things about math… scale is a big one (no pun intended!)… when we built our first models, we had no idea that they were actually 64 FEET tall! We reduced them down to a size that would actually work with our toys. Can you imagine a 64′ tall Polly Pocket yacht !?

The fact that your own designs can magically appear in a matter of hours is so impressive! As we learn more about the complex program to create things, the next challenge is to create something that ‘fits together’. More on that when our project gets further underway.

IMG_3082IMG_3081

IMG_3080
This is the MakerBot in action!

IMG_3087

IMG_3089
This print took about 3 hours to print.

This is Olive’s Party Ship for her Polly Pockets!

IMG_3073
This little baby took over FIVE hours to print!

IMG_3075

Tippity Toppity Top!

As a fun school project involving rotation, inertia, torque and velocity, we made a couple tops! Made out of wood, these laser cut spinners are smooth to the touch and they are easy to put together. Adding color to the patterns was fun and it was cool to see how they changed once in motion. The faster they rotated, the more the colors blended. The tops are made by a company in Texas named Bright Beam Goods. Check them out, they also have cool puzzles!

IMG_3084IMG_3090IMG_3106IMG_3096

IMG_3098

Check out these cool videos about SPINNING!

 

 

The Great Sphero Challenge!

Quite recently, we heard of a programmable robot called Sphero. After trying one through our Tech Club connection we thought it was SO COOL we purchased one of these awesome robots for ourselves! As a week-long project we were assigned Challenges to test Sphero’s abilities (and ours!) by coding it through obstacle courses! These were the first 4 we were given.

Sphero challenge #1

CODE Sphero through the obstacle course: maze must have 3 left turns and 4 right|must have at least 1 ramp throughout the maze. Seems simple doesn’t it? Well sometimes simple is hard… and that was the case here it was outstandingly difficult to code directions… but we did it! WHOOP WHOOP!!!

Sphero challenge #2

Build a chariot for Sphero out of pipe cleaners, straws and tape that will hold two passengers – must have 8 turns 4 right 4 left|make the maze out of blocks| must have at least two ramps. BIG TIP!!! When sphero is driving by itself, the turning radius is different then when there’s a chariot on the back and it takes more power. We ended up making many different chariots but because of the turning radius we never made it through. But we did teach Siri to tell a story on command!

Challenge #3

Create a maze. Use measuring tape to define the edges, maze should have 8 turns: 5 right, 3 left, 1 at a 30 degree angle. Create a ramp. Sphero should be able to go backward through the maze.  That was proved too difficult to solve. The backwards part was impossible at the point of what we know, the maze was cool, but backwards… maybe next week!!

Challenge# 4

Drive Sphero up a 12″ ramp. We ended up making several different designs and at one point we were so desperate we tried to make an elevator to the top! With a little help from Mom, a little extra speed, a bit of traction and BOOM we made it to the top only to fall right back down the ramp! As you might imagine there was a whole lot of shrieks of joy, leaping, dancing and a couple of tears of happiness!!! It was really fun and we learned so much about slopes, coding, friction and velocity. Stay tuned for more Sphero adventures!!!

 

IMG_1968IMG_1969IMG_1973IMG_2036IMG_2098IMG_2099IMG_2102IMG_2103

 

The Art of Deconstructing Plant Life.

Just yesterday,  we were inspired by a Swiss guy named Ursus Wehrli. He likes to tidy up art, meaning, he has been taking already made art and neatly cleaning it up – otherwise known as deconstructing. {there’s a better example of his work shown below in the form of a video!} We decided, THAT’S SO COOL!!!!!! So we tried our hand at deconstructing. The things you need for this super relaxing project is: something to take apart, tweezers {only if you are doing something super duper tiny like we did} also, a clear surface, a bit of patience and a steady hand. Since it’s spring, we decided to work on plants or flowers… flowers are so exciting!!!. We chose buttercups,{or the yellow flowers if you don’t know what that is} a flat evergreen branch, and white snowdrop flowers. The flowers are brave specimens – daring to bloom in this sporadicly warm, then freezing Michigan February! It’s amazing how many little bits there are in an ANYTHING!

img_0948img_0952img_0965

img_0950img_0957fullsizerender

img_0951img_0954

fullsizerender

510ew8fJ+WL._SY394_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Icosahedron Planets

In our continuing exploration of geometry, we turned out attention to icosahedrons. The word comes from the Greek word eíkosi meaning ‘twenty’ and hédra meaning ‘seat’. So guess how many sides the largest of the platonic solids have? You guessed it – TWENTY!

This activity came on the heels of learning about Buckminster Fuller (see our prior post on building a geodesic dome) and his Dymaxion Map. He created the only flat map of our planet where all the land masses are connected. That guy was incredible!

We downloaded these super cool templates here. It would have been great to have scaled them up and down to make them more representational of the planets’ relative size, but our printer doesn’t print larger than letter size :0). Maybe for a summer project!

Getting the last folds in place was tricky and even after making 2 planets each, I’m not sure we successfully mastered it, but it was a super fun project.

img_0744img_0738img_0736img_0734

img_0742

img_0787

Buckminster Fuller

So you’ve probably seen them around… on playground, amusement parks, homes, toys structures. They are Geodesic domes and Buckminster Fuller (also known as “Bucky”) described its principles of construction in his efforts to design using the ‘less is more’ theory. We decided to put our patience to the test when we saw a post that created a dome with newspapers. Check out their post here.

We got 6 old newspapers (these editions are not as thick as we all remembered them being!) and started the process of rolling, taping, measuring, counting and color coding to create all of the struts we would need to start building. Once those were done, we were ready to build. That is trickier than it would seem and we learned in much more detail why it is helpful for EVERY roll to be many layers thick rather than just a few. The struts that were thinner were much less interested in staying tubular and bent, as you might imagine. We pressed on and in about 2 hours we had completed our SUPER cool geodesic dome!!

Next time you have extra newspapers on hand, you should consider giving it a try!

img_0588img_0578img_0583img_0594img_0599img_0606img_0605img_0611

Here is a short PBS video we watched about Bucky. Pretty cool guy!