The theme for this year’s STEAMfest is movement. Every class is doing different projects, using STEAM, that have to do with movement and transportation. In the eighth grade, we are building projects that use automation with a goal of helping the world to become a better place by solving a specific problem.
In our group, we are trying to solve problems that deal with food supply distribution. We wanted to solve one of the food waste issues that goes on in our school: students throwing out uneaten food. We decided to build a robot using an arduino board that would travel throughout the school. The plan is that it will pull a series of containers down the hallway. It will make a stop at each classroom so that students can either put their unwanted food in a container for other students to take or select a snack that another student left behind.
First Task: LED Name Tags
We were each handed an LED (Light Emitting Diode) name tag, and etched our names in the middle of it using safety pins. We then inserted the LED lights into the bottom front holes, putting in the short legs first and then the other legs on the other side of the card. We slipped a paper clip onto one long leg of the light, and secured the long leg to a small hole provided above them. We then took the other long leg of the second LED light and fastened it to the paperclip so the paperclip would press against a circular battery on one side of the name tag. We repeated the same paperclip process with the shorter legs poking out of the other side of the tag. Both paperclips tied to the circular battery on the two sides made the name tag light up in a color. Our team spent an extremely long time etching our names onto the tag, because it was difficult to scratch off a big area with such a thin tool. We attempted many times to light the name tag, but we found that the paperclips didn’t press enough on the battery and therefore did not create the energy needed to light up the LED’s. To solve this problem, we inserted the LED’s legs into the holes tighter to hold the paperclip against the battery as hard as possible. At the end of the process, we were all very successful, and satisfied with our LED-battery controlled name tags.
Second Task: Olympic Flame Holder
Our second task was to build a structure to hold a “flame,” which was actually a small light. We constructed ours using wood, paper, play dough, electrical tape, a battery, and the light. We used wood to make a triangle, within which we placed a “campfire” made of electrical tape, the battery and the light. We used black construction paper to make a background reminiscent of the night sky. Then we added four flags, one for each team. They were made from Popsicle sticks for poles, with play dough for the designs. The Jew Crew had the Star of David designed on their flag, the Majestic Unici had a rainbow, the Green Mean Steam Machine had a green robot, and The Spark had a yellow avocado. Everyone voted on who had the best tower, and our team one by one point. It made us all feel very proud.
Third Task: Volleyball Catapult
We were assigned to make a catapult that would launch a cotton ball over a shelf and land on a table. The materials we used included popsicle sticks, a plastic spoon, a rubber band, wood planks, electrical and masking tape, and pipe cleaners. We started by gluing two planks together in a t-formation and tied the rubber band around a spoon to adjust it to the vertical plank. This plank structure gave the catapult the height for the the cotton ball to fly farther and higher with more ease. We struggled to get the cotton ball to stay on the spoon before launching, so we taped a popsicle stick to the bottom of the spoon to solve the problem. While working on the experiment, we also found it difficult to keep the cotton ball from rolling off the table after catapulting. To ensure that our catapult would be following the rules for the competition, we lowered the spoon that was secured to the plank. When it was time to compete, we landed on the table two out of three times and won.
Fourth Task: Weight Lifting Challenge
The fourth and final assignment was to build a structure, using limited materials, that could support a cup three inches above the ground. The cup needed to hold as many pennies as possible without making the structure fall over. Our materials were 2 feet of tape, string, a cup, and 14 straws. We made an octagon shaped structure out of the straws and added more at the bottom to support it and make it have equal weight. We produced two holes on the top sides of the cup. String was threaded through the holes and tied to the sides of the octagon to strongly suspend it in the air. It held 49 pennies before collapsing to the side, but still made us the winners of the STEAM Olympics.
We had a great time working on the STEAM Olympics together, and we learned so much about teamwork, Electricity, Engineering and the way in which different and new materials are used to create the tasks we were assigned. Throughout the process, we encountered errors and obstacles, but we were able to overcome them using our knowledge of STEAM. In conclusion, this project was extremely beneficial to our knowledge of Science, and we hope to continue discovering and growing using STEAM in the future!
By- Bella, Hannah, Raphy, Asher