Welcome one and all to the first week of Stem Club for 2018! It's been a long time coming and a serious step up for us from our inaugural year in 2017.
We'll be adding a new blog post each week talking about what's been happening. As we get further in we'd also like to give the kids the opportunity to write some of the blog themselves - let us know if you think you'd want to give it a whirl.
We had 4 (4!) new groups starting this year - one on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. Lots of awesome new faces and the chance to share the space and equipment with new families.
As we did last year, the first project for everyone was to create a wooden box for their cubby. This becomes a place for them to store their folder, notebook and any work in progress while at Stem Club. Having everyone around the workbench hammering, drilling and glueing was great to see. There wasn't even that much Glue-maggedon.
Once the building was done we went through to the studio and jumped on the computers to design a name tag for each box. Using the various icons and fonts available in "Easel" everyone got to carve their personal style onto their creation. Then it was back to the workshop to setup the CNC. Seeing the CNC in action is always very popular - it is an amazing machine and a great introduction to the kind of tools that are enabling the maker movement.
Next week (after we've attached our name tags) we will be doing our "Deconstruction and Recycling" session. This is where everyone gets to pull apart a piece of e-waste and explore how it works. We'll have a power supply and amplifier available to fire up any useful bits and pieces we come across. Over the next few weeks we will also be getting each group to choose a name for themselves.
"The Guinea Pigs"
Our older returning group "The Guinea Pigs" started the term with an engineering challenge. They were presented an outline and design brief (from NASA) for the "Extra-Planetary Galvanic Gague" (also known as EGG), a delicate satellite that needed to survive its return to earth having completed its year long mission.
In short they had to design something that would enable an egg to survive a fall from great height.
We discussed other solutions that people have used to solve this problem - how to protect something delicate from an impact. We also talked about dispersing a load across the entire surface area of an object rather than having a single focussed point of impact. After these reflections the group then formed themselves into two camps and set about testing and refining their designs.
The ultimate test was carried out towards the end of the class and results were mixed to say the least. But as Adam from "Mythbusters" says - 'failure is always an option'.
Our Returning Younger Group
We kicked off 2018 with a new skill for our younger group. They got to do some soldering for the first time. This skill was wrapped around a project - making a USB powered "Light Sign".
We started with some tutorials on soldering technique using a test board and some resistors. Then we jumped on the computers and designed our signs using "Easel" so that we could start them carving on the CNC. Once that was done we jumped back on the irons to start putting the components together for the LED stand. Soldering can be quite challenging but everyone did really well. We did run out of time so this project will carry into next week.
But they look so cool! Don't you think?
See you all next week.