Energy Transfer Project (blog post #4)

My final product is a toy car powered by a battery. It works by the battery providing electrical power to the motor which spins the gears, making the back wheels spin and ultimately causing the car to move forward. The car converts electrical energy from the battery to kinetic energy (which is proven by the car moving). Below is a video of the back wheels spinning.

I was successful in making the wheels move with the gears and motor, however, there were definitely things I needed to fix. For example, the wheels would not move when the car was placed on a surface. The appearance of the car is not very aesthetically appealing and needs more decoration and colors. If I had more time to continue to improve upon this design, I would get a more powerful motor or battery to make the wheels spin even when holding the weight of the entire car. Once I got the car to move on the ground, I would then paint the exterior and glue on the roof of the car.

My client for this product would be children around the ages of 4-7. It is a toy that can be used to pass time or keep the children from bothering the parents when they are doing something important. Right now, my project isn’t very environmentally friendly, however, this is only a prototype. I needed to figure out how the motors and batteries worked. If I had time, I would use solar panels instead of batteries, making the product more environmentally friendly.

Energy Transfer Project (blog post #3)

This class, we began to make our products. Initially, I was very self-conscious and insecure about my project because it was so simple but I’ll try my best to make it more complex. By the end of the class, I was able to cut out almost all of the cardboard pieces I needed. Next class, I should be able to start assembling the pieces and testing them out. However, one problem I will probably run into is what material to use for the wheels. There doesn’t seem to be any bottle caps around (and I would probably use something sturdier for the final product anyway) so I’m not exactly sure what I am going to use but I assume I’ll figure it out somehow.

I decided to change my project to be powered by a battery. Instead of converted elastic potential energy to kinetic energy, my car converted electrical energy to kinetic energy. I used this class to figure out how the motors worked and also continued building my car.

This class, I finished the cardboard outer structure of my car. Next class, I should be able to start attaching the wheels, motors, gears, and batteries.

1/ 18/19
I attached the motor and batteries to my car. There were many problems that occurred that I didn’t have time to fix but I will address those along with the video of me testing my product in my reflection.

Below is a bit of documentation of the work I did:


Energy Transfer Project (blog post #2)

For this engineering project, I’ve decided to go with elastic potential energy transferring into kinetic energy. To show this, I will be using rubber bands, cardboard, bottle caps, and other materials to create a wind-up car for children as a toy.

I found a youtube tutorial showing step-by-step how to create this kind of a toy, however, I will add my own customizations to the car such as a different color scheme, substituting some of the materials for others, and adding details as I see fit throughout the process of making this toy. I have made my own approximate measurements that I may or may not follow as I make the car. Everything I’ve sketched so far is not set in stone, I will tweak and adjust things when they don’t work as well as I want. Next class will be the class I start building my car. Until then, I’m following the plan I sketched out on my paper.


Energy Transfer Project (blog post #1)

In this class, we were given an engineering task to create something that converts any type of energy to another (ex. electrical energy to kinetic energy). Not only does this product need to transfer types of energy, it should also have a function and purpose in everyday life.

For my project, I was thinking about something transferring electrical energy to kinetic energy or, if that proves to be too challenging, something that converts potential energy to kinetic energy. Based on my little to no experience with engineering, the first option might be harder but more interesting than the second option. For the first option, some products I’ve put into consideration are an electric fan and a rechargeable flashlight. The second option would be easier but might fail to impress and be too simple. I haven’t thought about ideas for projects converting potential energy to kinetic energy yet but I will do more research on it later.

Nightmare Design Reflection

My nightmare design was supposed to be a demolished world where monsters have destroyed everything. I created broken ceilings, zombies emerging from the ground and a dragon appearing from a building. My idea originally came from my nightmare of the dragon in The Hobbit. I built upon the dragon and added many more beasts into the nightmare. The shredded pieces of newspaper in the back are rubble, the newspaper coming from the dragon’s mouth is supposed to be fire and the backdrop is abstract lines to give an atmosphere that conveys fear, mystery and darkness.

I think I was successful in creating my nightmare world in the sense that all of my characters were recognizable to my audience. For example, my dragon looked like a dragon, the zombies looked like zombies, etc. I’m not sure if the stage design evoked any fear from my audience but I feel that if I was put into the world that I created, I would be terrified.

Through the process of creating this design, I learned a lot about the materials I was working with. I realized that in order to create the effect of something emerging from the ground or from the ceiling, I could use a blade to cut the cardboard into flaps and peel the flaps up using my hands. I learned through making the bat that you could create an illusion that something was floating or flying by using thin wires to hold it up. Being more familiar with the materials was only part of what I learned through this project. I also became more knowledgeable about my own skills and limits. I knew what types of things I could draw and what things I couldn’t. I learned which materials were right for which tasks.

To further develop this nightmare world, I think I could make more set pieces and scenery instead of spending so much time on my characters. Most of my buildings were at one height so I think I could create more levels within my piece for actors to be on.


This other design was made by Sabrina Lam. You can see the end of an alleyway and two eyes on a brick wall, watching you. There is trash in the bottom corner, blood splattered all over the walls and cobwebs across the design. This design makes me feel like someone is watching and judging me at all times and the eyes really help give us that feeling. The color scheme of red and brown work well together to give us a feeling of fear and violence. The big X written on the floor of the stage makes the audience feel as if it’s “the end” or something bad is about to happen there.

For me, I feel like this piece is extremely symbolic and is free for the audience’s interpretation. In my piece, the fear was quite literal because of all the monsters. In Sabrina’s design, instead of making literal things to scare you, the scary thing is the things that have happened in the alleyway. Many of the things people fear are potential things that could happen. By spray painting blood and red everywhere, the audience can infer whatever they want about what has happened in this alleyway. The X on the ground itself is not scary but what it could symbolize is what makes the piece so terrifying. The way Sabrina induces fear using this stage is by putting set piece that would indirectly scare the audience and that is what is unique about her nightmare world.

Sabrina’s design was very successful both technically and for the purpose of this task. Her was both original and scared people. Her set pieces were very well made like the trash cans. They look like trash cans and also give chances for actors to enter from them. The cobwebs are very well arranged and cleverly used to enhance her design. She was smart with her materials and was able to work around the problems she encountered when running out of red paint.

Although this nightmare world is already very well designed, there are two things that could be added and would complement the stage design. One thing is that she could add more places for actors to enter. When making our nightmare world, we can’t forget that this is a stage design and things need to be strategically placed to help the actors. In the design, the only place actors can make entrances from are the trash cans since the rest of the stage is blocked off by the two walls. I know that the idea was to make the alleyway a dead end and there was no escape, but it would be nice if she had hidden doors for actors to enter. Another thing she could add is some things hanging from the cover. Although the picture doesn’t show it, there is meant to be a cover over the design to make the alleyway darker and more mysterious. If there were things hanging from the ceiling (dead people? Bats? Spiders?), that would make the design more interesting.

In short, this project was extremely fun to do. We were granted a lot of freedom to design whatever we wanted. We were able to use all the different materials provided to us and now, we have a better understanding of which materials can create what types of effects. We all got a chance to express our creativity and imagination and I think the things we learned from this are valuable lessons we can keep with us whenever we are designing.

Hold Your Breath

The capstone project has taught me a lot about the current situation of air pollution in China and the government’s involvement in this issue. Doing this project and filming the documentary, we spread awareness about air pollution and how serious the issue is. For the next 8th graders, the capstone project may start out as one of those long, tedious research projects but after writing the essay, we filmed the documentary and it was an incredibly fun and interesting. I would suggest you film with a partner so you can get two camera angles for the interviews. Two tripods and two cameras is a lot to carry for one person. In addition to filming with a partner, I would also suggest filming your own footage. By using clips from the internet, you can still make an amazing video, however, using your own footage will be more impressive.

Catapults and Quadratics

The purpose of the catapult project was to allow us to demonstrate understanding of quadratics and be able to apply mathematical practices to real life. In this challenge, we each designed and created catapults and used Logger Pro to come up with a quadratic equation that represented the trajectory of the ball. Below is our design for the catapult:

After building multiple prototypes, we came up with this catapult:

Here is a video of our catapult launching:

Throughout the process of creating our catapult, testing it, and completing the challenges, we encountered many obstacles. The first problem was the consistency of our shots. We realized that it was difficult to pull the ball back to the same exact place every single time. To solve this problem, we glued on two popsicle sticks to restrict the motion of the popsicle that was pulled back so that it would always be pulled back to one spot and would not move very much when released.

Another problem that, in my opinion, prevented our catapult from launching the ball on the target consistently was how far our catapult launched. Unlike other catapults that launched 1 to 3 meters, ours launched almost five meters. This made it harder to hit targets consistently because of the numerous factors that could affect the trajectory of the ball such as wind.

Next time, I would either choose a different design for our catapult or pull the ball back less so that it would not shoot as far.

Not only was this project extremely fun, it also taught me a lot about quadratics and real life application. Having to create equations that modelled the flight path of our catapult in all three forms – standard form, factored form, and vertex form – and explain each term mathematically and in the context of the problem really confirmed my knowledge about quadratics.

Polymer Journal #2

Polymers can be very useful in solving problems. Ceramic plates, cups, and bowls are very easy to break. They slide easily off tables and once they drop to the ground, they crack. I would like to create a polymer that would help avoid situations that would cause these expensive, fragile things to fall.

My polymer will be stuck onto the bottom of kitchenware like plates and bowls. The friction against the polymer and the table will make it much harder for plates to slide across the table and fall. My target audience would be anyone that owns any sort of plates, cups, or bowls.

The four polymers that we created had similar and different physical characteristics. I liked how sticky the super slime was. I think that would work well because it would stick to the plates easier. I would also like it if my polymer was less slimy like gloop because the polymer would be in contact with a dinner table and close to food.