Technology Central: Makerspace
By Jose Salamanca and Gideon Said
This year, the Makerspace lab has been utilized more than ever! Here, kids are allowed to work on any projects they want. In this room, there is a wide selection of materials from flight simulators to VR. You can 3-D print anything you need for whatever project you are pursuing. In this lab at the Science Academy, students are working on very unique and interesting projects. Many of them are direct solutions to modern world problems and other problems of all varieties. One project is a hexapod robot. A hexapod is a six-legged robot. The great thing about it is that you can code whatever movement styles you want! It can walk in a wave or shuffles and many other motions. Also, buying a ready-made hexapod would cost up to $2,000, while building it costs $200!
Another project is a VR Driving Simulator which stimulates the effects of drunk driving. It contains features that can change your reaction speed based on your blood toxicity. Also, it blurs the screen to make your vision worse based on the amount of alcohol coursing through you virtually.
Another project is a prosthetic arm that will be controlled with electrical impulses originating from your brain. This will allow the controlling of prosthetic limbs in injured people.
Regenerating concrete is another project trying to be completed. It could prevent against earthquakes and acid rain. The concrete would automatically regenerate itself from any cracks and/or fractures.
Another VR project is a surgery simulator that will be programmed with many different surgeries for medical students to practice on. This will contain many different operations widely used throughout the world on people. You will be able to practice and learn the correct methods when performing surgeries in real-life.
Another group will be designing an entire, interactive VR model of the school. You will be able to explore classrooms and hallways. All of these projects utilize the many capabilities of the Makerspace room. More details of these projects will be provided throughout the year as they develop and are built here in the Makerspace room.
Recently in Makerspace, there was a challenge where we had to create the tallest tower we could, using only one meter of string, twenty spaghetti sticks, and one meter of tape. This challenge tests your social capabilities and engineering skills under the pressure of time and limited, low-quality materials. On top of that, it has to hold a marshmallow on top so you have to hope that your marshmallow will not collapse AND be held higher than several other groups. Additionally, the tower has to be free-standing and can not be held for support. A short 18 minutes is all that is provided to the three/four-person group. The marshmallow challenge is mainly based on your skills in working together and breaking things down into simpler parts. This challenge requires clear communication and the ability to quickly start building instead of wasting precious time planning a design. Studies have shown how different types of people have different skill levels in doing this. Surprisingly, kindergartners have one of the highest scores because of how they put the marshmallow up first. Then they slowly add on, but the marshmallow is always on top. Many grades participated in this challenge. Our top record here in the Science Academy was an eighth-grade group at 27 inches tall!
Graph (top) Photo of Marshmallow Towers (bottom)