Learning About Breadboards

Today we learned about how to use breadboards. Are first task was to light up one LED light without using the power rails. The LED lights had two legs, one shorter and one longer. The longer side was called the cathode (positive) side and the shorter side was called the anode (negative) side. The cathode side goes on the same side as the negative (black) battery wire of the breadboard. The anode side goes on the same side as the positive (red) battery wire, in the same row. The battery pack wires go in the same row as the LED light.

The second thing we did was light up an LED light using the power rails. The LED light goes in the same way as before. The next step is putting the battery pack wires in the power rails this time. The positive side goes in the positive side of the rail and the negative side goes in the negative side of the rail. The last step is putting jumper cables in to connect the power rails to the rest of the breadboard. One side of the jumper cable goes in the same row as the LED light and the other goes anywhere in the power rail, depending on where the negative or positive wires are. The other jumper cable goes on the other side of the breadboard.

The last thing we did was put three LED lights in the  breadboard and test all three switches. In order to do that, three extra jumper cables would be added and six alligator clips. On any side, the three (of six in total) jumper cables are taken out on the side that is in the power rail. The three extra jumper cables are inserted in the same place the the jumper cable was just taken out of. Each alligator clip is attached to one of the jumper cables sticking up. The other sides of those alligator clips are attached to the tin foil parts on the switches. When the switch is turned on, the lights light up, depending on which one was switched on.

Building Switches

Our next unit is building switches (and Solder People). We will be using cardboard, tin foil, straws, hot glue, popsicle sticks, etc. The tin foil is the conductive material that will be used for turning a light bulb on.
What you’re supposed to do is build a switch out of available materials that will make the light flash. In order to do that, you will have to attach the tin foil to the switch so that when you flip it on, the tin foil touches another side of tin foil. One alligator clip will be clipped on each side to make the light flash. You will have to build three switches which will be used in a game at the end, so you want them to be fast and efficient.
I will make a lever, a button, and a sliding switch. For my lever, I will make a straw lever with a popsicle stick and a rubber band attached. The popsicle stick will have tinfoil taped to it so it will be conductive. In front of the lever, there will be another piece of tinfoil taped to be conductive. Behind the lever, there will be another popsicle stick where the other side of the rubber band will be. This will allow the lever to turn off as soon as I turn it on for speed.

For my button, I will make a straw button that will go up and down- like a button. I will make a little box with two sides missing. On the bottom inside of the box, I will attach tin foil to make it conductive. On a little straw, I will attach tin foil to the bottom to be conductive. To make it turn off right after I turn it on, I will attach a rubber band to the straw. The other side will be attached to a hook made of a popsicle. In the box, I will make a hole in the middle to insert the straw button.

For my sliding switch, I will take two little pieces of cardboard and slide them to turn it on and off. On the edges of both pieces, I will tape on tin foil to make it conductive. On the side of each of them, I will make a hole. In the hole, I will insert a straw to allow the boards to connect and slide. Next to the switch, I will have a popsicle stick so that each time I slide the switch on, it will turn back off.

Solder People

While we are making our switches, we are also creating Solder People. We will be using brass wire and solder. My solder person will be waving its hand. In order to take the materials and create a solder person, I will have to use pliers to bend the wire. There will be two wires. One is five inches long and one is three inches long. The five inch wire will be the legs and head and the three inch wire will be the arms. In order to connect these pieces, I will have to melt solder with a soldering iron on to my solder person. Then it will be finished.
Soldering irons are very dangerous because it gets as hot as 842º. You have to cool it down and clean the tip on a wet sponge and brass wire sponge. To use the soldering  iron, you have t0 attach the parts you are soldering to alligator clips. If you hold the brass while you are soldering, your hand will burn to a crisp.

 

Learning About Voltage and Circuits

Today, we learned about how to check the voltage of a battery, what is affected by the voltage, and how circuits work.
We learned how to use a digital multimeter to check the voltage. You put the red (positive) side on the positive side of the battery, and you put the black (negative) side on the negative side of the battery. We learned how you use a different setting depending on the voltage.
After we learned about voltage, we started talking about circuits and how to build one. I already knew a little about circuits because my elementary school had a maker space where they explained circuits. Also, my brother used to have this really fun toy where you had a bunch of pieces, and you connected them to a board in order to get it to do what you wanted it to do. You could make a fan, light, etc.
First, we played a game where you would have to make a circuit out of wires, a light bulb, a battery, and a switch. It was pretty easy. Then we turned up the voltage on the battery and it went on fire. We learned to use a resistor to prevent that and you could make it more ohms to resist more. The harder part was making two separate paths for two separate light bulbs, so if you turned off the switch, only one would go out. Just like how you would want to buy the Christmas lights that didn’t all go out if only one was broken.
The circuits we made were different and cool. We took wires that were open at the edges so you could use the conductive metal, a battery pack, a switch, and a lightbulb. Then we put it all together. There were three screws on the switch. You had to unscrew two of them a little bit. Then you put the metal part of the wire under the screws and tightened them. Then you did the same thing for attaching the other side of the wire to the light bulb. To make the circuit work, you turn on the battery and flip the switch. Then the light bulb lights up.

Building Mothers Day Present

I always like to make something really special for my mom. I almost always create something. This year for Mother’s Day, I’m going to make her a bracelet and ring. When it was her birthday this year, I tried to make a ring but it ended up breaking. I learned from my mistakes and now I know I will create a great present.
Last time, the glue I used was really bad so it didn’t stick. Also, it was too flimsy and the wrong size. Now I have really strong glue and I know the correct size.
The first thing I did was gather my materials. On my watch, the metal band was doing very well, so I gathered lots of those pieces. While I was trying to find all of the metal, I realized that one of th pieces was hooked to a keychain and locked in some weird way. It took me a long time to get it off, figure out how to open and close it, and figure out how to use it in my creation. The next thing I got was the same soft and stretchy material I used the first time for my watch band. Finally, I got my glue and red Sharpie. The red Sharpie was for drawing hearts on the soft material. I wanted it to be special.
After I drew the hearts, glued it all together, and let it dry, I was finished.
I can’t wait to see the look on my mom’s face on Mother’s Day.

Learning About Atoms

Today in class we learned about atoms. We learned about the differences between neutrons, electrons, and protons. Neutrons are neutral, electrons are negative, and protons are positive. We also learned about how lightning happens when the world wants to be in balance. What happens is, the protons in a storm cloud are light and go to the top, leaving the electrons at the bottom. On the ground, all the electrons want to get away from the storm cloud, leaving only protons. All the negative charge from the cloud then makes a lightning bolt and meets the ground where the protons are.
Later, we learned about electric charges and different elements. We played some games to try to figure out the electric charge, atomic numbers and weights, and the different elements. At first, they were pretty hard, but then I got the hang of it and it was pretty easy.

Fixing My Watch Band

For almost 2 months now, I’ve been trying to fix the band on my watch.

One day when I was using it, it just snapped off. Since then, I’ve been trying  to come up with a way to recreate something like that out of the materials I had.
First, I tried using a soft and stretchy material, because it was a similar feel to my original band.

It lasted for a couple days, but then it snapped. It was also too uncomfortable because I used tape instead of glue.
The second time, I used a nice piece of paper.

This time I used strong glue instead of tape. It lasted much longer, but it was fragile so it ripped.
The next time, which is what I still currently have on my wrist, is a piece of metal from an old dog tag.

It’s working really well so far, but we’ll see how long it lasts. I started using it on Monday, a week ago, so it already broke the record. It could eventually snap, but it would be hard. It’s also really comfortable, so I hope it lasts.

Breakout

As you may have known, we did a Breakout in Tech. If you don’t already know, a Breakout is where you have to break codes in order to open a message or a safe box. I’ve done them before in Science and Social Studies sometimes.
It was a lot of fun – especially with my special challenge. At lunch, my friends dared me to talk to only ONE person during the whole period of Tech. I like to accept challenges so I agreed. Of course, my friends wanted to make it hard by picking a person I wouldn’t usually talk to.
When the Breakout started, I realized that I wasn’t in the same group as the person I had to talk to. Then, I asked one of my friends if I could switch sides. She said yes, but when I started helping out the other team, they thought I was spying on them to see their strategy. I had to explain, but I had to do it through the person I had to talk to. I had to say, “Tell the rest of the group that I need to be on this side to do a dare and I’m not cheating.” They were still a little suspicious but it didn’t matter because I won the game for them.
On the lock box, there were three locks. The other group had the same thing, except no one knew which one had the key we were looking for. There was also a lock box that any group could unlock which helped unlock all the locks faster. The first thing everyone did was look for clues. I didn’t find anything, but I helped out when others found some.
Later, on one of the clues, I saw a pattern of LED lights in a maze. We already used that clue, so everyone ignored it. I knew it had to mean something, so I followed the path a counted the number of LED lights. Then, I went over the the locks on the lock box. None of them were number locks. I looked at the other lock box with one lock and realized it had to be it. I punched in the code and pulled the lock. It worked! I showed everyone and they were amazed. I couldn’t really explain what I did but it didn’t matter.
Inside the box was an invisible ink flashlight. Our teacher told me to flash it on one of the papers. In invisible ink was an arrow pointing to a circled word. We quickly put in the code and opened the box. We had the key! “Well done everybody!” said the teacher. I completed my challenge and helped out my team. I couldn’t have had more fun.

Thoughts about Starting Tech

I was pretty excited for Tech because I remembered that my brother made really cool things. I always love to create things and invent, so I know I will have a great time. There are also a lot of cool tools that I’ve always wanted to use to create things that are now available to use.
On the first day, we went over the units and things we will be doing. Everything sounded fun and cool, so I am excited. Also, the teacher seems very nice. He also does a lot of cool things that I also like – for example, making games and building things in Tech. Another thing I like about Tech is the kind of iPad/Chromebook. It’s really cool how the Chromebooks we use are also able to be flipped into an iPad.
On the second day, we went over safety rules. I agreed 100% with all of them and I was thinking that a lot of kids would probably break them. Our class has some kids who like to fool around and not get work done.
On the thrird day, we did a Breakout. Breakouts are games where you have to break codes and unlock locks in order to open a safe box or message. That was a lot of fun. On that day, some of my friends gave me a challenge to talk to only one person during the whole class. It was hard but really fun. I had to open some locks by myself and then it was hard to explain it, but our team still did really well.
The only thing I don’t like about so far Tech is that it is too short of a class and I want to have more time to have fun. I guess I will have to deal with it for now.