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2018 - Term One - Week Nine - Electromagnetism, Robots and Tuned Tubes

Hello Everybody!


We’re heading towards the end of Term One with only one more session before everyone gets a well earned break.  Planning for Term Two is firmly in our sights but in the meantime...




Considered one of the most important discoveries of the 19th Century the world would be a very different place if there wasn’t a well understood relationship between electricity and magnetism.  This week we investigated this relationship with 4 of our groups.  The aim was to complete a one day build with the catchy title "The Electromagnetism Demonstration Station".

This nifty gadget comprises an Electromagnet, a Solenoid and a small Motor.

It was cool to see everyones faces as each step was completed and pieces of metal started leaping around as if by magic.  We used the obligatory paper clips because as we all know experiments relating to magnetism have to use paper clips.

If you need any further proof of this fact, spot the impressive use of paper clips in this picture of Oliver and Hugh:

 To wrap up these sessions we also pulled out a project I built last year.  I came across this video a on the internet a while ago and couldn't resist giving it a go.  It turns out motors come in all shapes and sizes!

Awesome stuff!



Our other two groups were still working on their Arduino Boards this week and getting them to a point where we can wrap up before the end of term.

The Mega-Bots were attaching all the re-cycled components to the sides of their "Franko-Bots" in readiness for them to be wired up and programmed.

They are starting to look really cool and it was great to see how easily some of these kids are using things like drills and soldering irons these days.  I'm looking forward to sharing pictures of this project finished and working next week!


The Guinea Pigs spent the day learning how to program Motor Controllers.  These attach to the Arduino and allow the programmer to control the direction and speed of a connected motor.  In this instance we wanted to use strikers to ring small tuned tubes.  The idea was to program them to ring the tubes at random times for random periods - kind of like an automated random wind chime.

We got the motor controllers working fairly easily... 

...but the precise tuning of the tubes proved a bit problematic.  I don't think the software we had to measure the resonant frequency was doing a very effective job.  We ended up cutting our tubes to random lengths which resulted in a slightly less harmonious cacophony of conflicting frequencies.  Our strikers were also a bit loud which didn't help the situation either, we're going to try swapping those out with something a bit softer next week.


On the whole another very successful week.  Great learning all round!


Stay warm everybody.