What a fun group we had today. It was “hands on learning” and FUN all the way! It is the week of Thanksgiving. We had a small group of kids today as some families are away traveling for the holiday, and some families are dealing with illnesses too. Though we were few in number, we were still able to have a fun time together and a great learning adventure. My family had a terrific time at the club today.
The story below is about:
Building Challenge: Dilemma and Building Challenge Solution
The kids are learning to estimate mass and volume with Legos.
Show and Tell
Fellowship and Refreshments
The kids opened the meeting with saying the 4H pledge and the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA. Two of the club boys led the group in saying the pledges. Then we shared a few announcements about current goings on and upcoming events in 4 H.
The kids got right down to the business of learning about robots. We are having lots of fun learning about SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATHEMATICS and furthering the STEM initiative.
For our presentation today, I brought a couple of robots that have different functional abilities. The kids learned to operate the doodle robot, and build and operate the robot duck. The doodle robot uses a method of vibration to accomplish it’s drawing tasks, and the robot duck uses a method of rotation to waddle and move forward.
We talked about some robot vocabulary words, and different areas of our lives where robots are used to make life better for humans. Some examples are replacing humans in hazardous work environments or rescue operations. There were lots of examples shared and the kids are full of ideas and conversations about the world of robotics.
Build A Robot
This was a great learning adventure for these budding engineers. All of the needed robotic supplies come with these building kits. We provided two AA batteries, and a phillips screw driver to complete the project. Oh yeah…..and some very enthusiastic boys.
Step 1. Assemble the battery holder to the base plate. Thread the red and black wires through the holes in the base plate. Screw the base plate and battery case together with screws.
Step 2. (no picture) Send the red and black wires of the batter holder through the metal eyes of the base.
Step 3. Send the red and black wires of the motor through the metal eyes with the other wires and place a cap in the holes. The metal of the wires should touch the metal of the eyes.
Step 4. Attach the gear, axel, and knees to the base. Line up the gear with the spiral screw shape that extends from the motor. The axel will rest on the notched holder above the motor.
Step 5. Put the legs through the knees. Add the feet to the legs.
Step 6. Add the motor cover and screw the cover to the base plate with the short screws.
Step 7. Thread the long screw through the base. Secure the screw with a nut. Cover the part of the screw that protrudes out past the base plate with a plastic screw cover.
Step 8. Place the batteries into the holder. Line up the batteries opposite to each other, positive charge down for one battery, and negative charge down for the other battery.
Step 9. Turn on the robot.
The robot duck is supposed to waddle across the floor like a duck. We were able to get it to waddle in the air, but everytime we sat it down on a flat surface it did not want to waddle. So we need to trouble shoot and figure out why. But the kids had a lot of fun building it and it did work as long was we held it and didn’t set it down. I try to teach the kids that engineering and science is full of trial and error and making modifications along the way. This was a good opportunity to put this into practice. We will make some modifications and hopefully get the robot waddling across the floor soon.
Check out the video we made of the club kids building ROBOT DUCK . The kids named it “Duckster”.
Video of how to build the robot duck kit.
After a fun time of learning with robots, we “switched gears” for a building challenge. I love to present a life dilemma to the kids and challenge them to come up with a solution. This helps the kids relate the building challenge to real life. It gives the kids opportunity to problem solve, engineer, design, make modifications, and work as a team.
Today, we discussed a group of people who are near and dear to my heart, the Amish. We talked a little bit about their culture. The kids learned that the Amish do not use electricity to turn on lights, or to power things in their homes, and they do not drive automobiles. The Amish use gas lamps, oil lamps, and flash lights for light. They drive a horse and buggy for transportation. They usually only travel short distances in their horse and buggy, for example to the local farmers market, local shops, and to visit family and friends who live within a few miles of each other. It would take a long time to go most places beyond a short distance, so they have to hire others (they call anyone not Amish, “English”), to take them to town, and take their products to market. Most Amish people farm the land, but some work in Amish owned factories, and shops.
Almost all Amish people raise a garden, raise animals (for transportation, meat, eggs, and/or milk), and some grow crops, depending on where in the country they live. Some crops they might grow include orchards, strawberries, potatoes, cabbage, watermelon, corn, hay, wheat, tobacco, and so on. Most Amish farms are between 20 to 200 acres, and the average farm is about 80-100 acres. It is very hard to make a living farming less than 100 acres. Farmers must use intensive farming practices, and very good marketing of their products, to earn enough to pay for the farm and the needs of their family.
Here is one example of products an Amish farmer might raise, harvest, manufacture, and sell through out the year to earn money farming his 100 acres of land:
January-March (fire wood, work in an Amish factory, harvest maple syrup, build sheds),
April-May (lettuce, strawberries, plant gardens, firewood, prepare fields),
June (plant the fields, harvest the first crop of hay, sell calves that were born in Jan. or last fall, sell early garden produce crops),
July (raspberries, summer squash, cucumbers, green beans, work the crops in fields and remove weeds, peaches),
August (harvest second cutting of hay, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, summer squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, apples),
September (corn, melons, apples, )
October (harvest pumpkins, winter squash, third cutting of hay (possible fourth cutting if growing conditions were right), )
November (continue final harvest of winter produce, butcher animals, plant winter rye or wheat in fields).
In addition to all of this, he would be feeding his animals twice daily (365 x 2 = 730 times) all year long. He might milk 40 head of dairy cattle every morning and night. He might raise some additional cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys for meat and eggs. He might help his wife with a house garden too. He might have 20 acres of hay, 20 acres of pasture, 10 acres of house/ buildings/fruit trees/ and the garden, and 50 acres of crops of produce. If he has more acres, then he can produce more products to sell. This is just one scenario, other Amish farmers may raise other animals like dogs for sale, or some might work in a woodworking shop, or other venue.
We discussed that currently it is the fall season, and this is harvest season for most farmers. One produce commodity some Amish grow large quantities of in the fall is pumpkins. A single Amish farmer might put 40 acres or more of his farm into pumpkin patches. He will farm all of this by hand and with the help of his horses. He may hire his brother, or other young Amish laborers to help him bring in the harvest. They will harvest the pumpkins when they are ripe in the fields and place them on horse drawn wagons and take them to the barn or unloading area. They may sell some of the pumpkins to customers who come to the farm, and to a local farmers market.
But the majority of the pumpkin crop will be sold to a large distribution center that serves specific stores (like a Walmart distribution center), a produce auction (where lots of stores can buy produce from), or to a factory. Large factories or distributors might buy a large quantity of pumpkins from a single farmer, or from a community of Amish farmers. Some Amish farmers form farming co-ops when they are working together to send a large quantity of a product to market that was produced by several farms.
For our “Dilemma”, we pretended that a factory, aka Pumpkin Canning Factory INC., placed an order for 25 tons of pumpkins from this Amish community co-op. They also offered the farmers a bonus if they could produce an extra 5 tons and get it to the factory on time. The co-op needs to hire an “English” (non-Amish because the Amish won’t get driver’s licenses) driver to transport the pumpkins from the unloading area on the farm to the factory before Thanksgiving, so the factory could to turn them into canned pumpkin in time for the holidays.
The Building Challenge:
The kids were divided into two teams. Each orange colored pompom and cube in our Amish display represented a ton of pumpkin. The kids need to build a vehicle to haul at least 25 to 30 of these “pumpkins”. They will have to estimate the mass (of the pumpkins), and volume (the volume capacity they need to hold) as they build their transport vehicles to complete this task.
They were given instructions to spend 3 minutes discussing amongst their team members their ideas for a transport vehicle. Then they were given paper and a pencil. They spent 5 minutes drawing their team’s ideas on paper.
Next, the teams were given a box of Lego pieces to build with, and a cookie sheet to set out their projects on. I call these boxes my “Building Challenge Kits”.
I have two boxes that I put together in clear storage containers that are exactly the same. They hold a lot of Legos with a lot of building potential! Each box contains about 12 Lego Creator “3 in 1” projects, a few Lego City projects, and several mini figures. We can build countless building challenges with these. Having two boxes work out great for setting up two teams with building challenges.
Initially, both teams were told they had to build their project in fifteen minutes. But both teams needed a little more time and were given an extra five minutes to finish. Then they had to carry their finished project to the display table and check to see if it could hold 25 tons of pumpkins.
Team One’s Solution is a modified “sporty” semi truck and a deep wagon style trailer. They said it could haul a lot of pumpkins in a short amount of time.
Team Two’s Solution is a truck with a detachable wagon that has additional modules to lengthen the design, and hold a bigger load, depending on the load it needs to carry. They also designed a lid type cover for the wagon, depending on if they needed to keep the products it hauls dry and out of the rain.
Now for the moment of truth! Which team’s solution to the challenge can haul 25 tons or more?
Team One was able to load the 25 tons, plus the additional 5 tons.
Team Two was able to load 22 tons in the wagon they had. They could hold all 30 tons with the additional extension they had built for the wagon, but for some reason, they did not think to install the extension for the competition. Their extension was laying on the tray, and they used it to demonstrate the potential of their vehicle. But when loading up, they neglected to instal it. Team One was the winner of today’s building challenge.
What Lego MBA techniques did you use to build your mode of transportation?
Why is it important to make sure none of the load of produce is lost to damage?
How would you talk to an Amish person about the service you have to offer to haul their load of produce?
What would you do if the farmer wanted to ride along with you for the delivery so they could collect their pay before they could pay you for your services?
If the canning factory was 750 miles from the farming community, and you charge .95 cents per mile from the time you pick up the load, until you make the delivery, how much money will you earn for this job?
If your vehicle is completely loaded by 9am and you travel an average speed of 50 miles per hour, approximately what time will you arrive at your destination?
Show and Tell
Show and Tell time at our meetings is always a fun time of sharing creativity and interests of each child. We had a smaller group today and it felt like it went by so fast compared to our larger meetings. Each child takes about 3 to 5 minutes to tell us about what they brought to share. It is a good opportunity for them to practice communication skills.
Fellowship and Refreshments
Well, after all of this learning fun, these kids are famished! Thankfully, we have a great group of parents who bring a variety of foods to enjoy during our fellowship and refreshment time. Many of the parents help watch the younger children (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers), help out as the club kids build projects, help me set up for the programs, and clean up after the meetings. Everyone working together makes it a success!
I am really grateful for the families who share their lives with my family through this gathering.
I enjoy teaching this learning adventure, and my children are better for it and love the experience.