Thoughts About Ending Tech

I can’t believe Tech is already over. It feels like we started just yesterday.
I liked Tech a lot and it met all my expectations. I love using all these new tools and doing really fun projects. It was fun doing Breakouts, learning about atoms, learning about voltage and circuits, making solder people, learning about breadboards, making switches, building flashlights, and making my automata.
The past couple of days, since I finished everything, I’ve been playing a physics game and I’ve been doing block challenges. Block challenges are where you are supposed to balance a bunch of blocks and build one of the structures in the picture.
I am going to miss 6th Grade Tech but I am also excited for 7th Grade Tech. I wonder if it will be as fun.

Building My Automata

The last project of the year was building your automata. I was going to give it to my dad for Father’s Day. It would spin around saying Happy Father’s Day and smiley faces would go up and down on the sides.
The first step was making a sketch. Then I had to cut my box frame out of cardboard. I drew the line where the flaps were so I could cut them of. After I cut off the flaps, I used the corners to cut a triangle that measured 1.5 inches. After I cut four of them, I hot glued them to the corners of the automata on the inside. This would keep it sturdy and all angles right angles. Next, I had to poke the holes through the frame with an awl. This is where my axle with be. I also had to make the hole right in the center. After that, I had to cut my cams (circles in the axle) and followers (circles on top of the cams). They were first drawn with a compass to make a perfect circle. Then I cut them with a scroll saw. The followers were slightly bigger than the cams. After I cut them, I had to sand the edges to make them smooth. Then I had to make three evenly spaced out holes at the top of my automata. Next, I glued three straws on the holes. After that, I had to cut my followers smaller so all three would fit. Then I realized that the one in the middle that spins wouldn’t fit. Instead, I had to use gears which were smaller. After that, I glued the pistons onto the followers and gear. To keep the middle piston and straw in place, I made four congruent right triangles and glued them. To keep the other followers from moving, I cut out two equal pieces of paper. Then I  made tabs on the sides and glued them to the top of the automata and the tops of the followers. Next, I made the sign that spun around on top saying “Happy Father’s Day.” I used markers and then glued it to a cardboard circle to keep it sturdy. Then I made a hole in the middle so I could attach it to the piston. Next, I glued it to the piston. After I did that, I had to make my smiley faces. I first drew them on an iPad and then I cut them in a laser cutter. Next, I colored the smiley faces with yellow marker. After that, I hot glued them to the other pistons. Then it was done.

Building Flashlights

Our next project was building flashlights. The first step and most important was creating the diagram. First we made the scale. One box equaled 1/2 inch. After experimenting, I came up with my design. I measured and drew the dimensions. Then I drew the wires, switch, and battery. After I showed it to Mr. Calvert, I cut my straight pvc pipe. The next step was measuring and cutting my wires. To do that, you take a wire and line it up with your diagram. Then you make a bend where the wire you drew ends. You straighten the wire but not the bend. Then you measure it. Next, I took the coil of wires and measured them so I knew how much to cut. Once I had my wires, I made little hooks on the edges. The next step was drilling my holes for the LED light and switch. We used a drill press to drill the holes through the pvc pipes. After that, I had to solder my wires together to make my circuit. First I took the LED light and made a dogleg on the anode (longer) side. Then I soldered my positive (red) and negative (black) wires to the battery holder, switch, and LED light. When Mr. Calvert approved, he stuck the LED light and switch through the holes of my pvc pipes. I put together the rest of the flashlight and decorated it. Then it was done.

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.