Reflect and Share

My product was half-working since I was intended for 2 main functions:

  1. Successfully respond to the arcade control for  moving the arm up/down
  2. Successfully respond to the arcade control for opening/closing the claw

My product failed the first target but fulfilled the second objective. My project can also count as “worked” since it successfully attended the engineering task for designing and creating a product that involves conversion/transfer of energy. By receiving electric energy from the battery, transferring the energy to the claw motor, the motor converted the electric energy into mechanical energy that’s able to turn its’ gears inside. The turning of the gears inside the motors triggered the mechanism of the claw, in which the mechanical energy was passed to the gears that controlled the opening/closing of the claw. Therefore, the process of the energy conversion was started from the battery’s electric power to the motor gears’ mechanical power. Then, the mechanical power was transferred through gears inside motor, to the shaft connected between the claw’s mechanism and motor, to the small gears of the claw, to the bigger gears… and that formed the movement of the claw.

Areas I’m successful in the product/process:

  1. Building the whole structure of the robot, including the base, the arm and the claw (product success)
  2. Building feasible mechanisms that use the motors as the motive forces to move the claw and arm (product success)
  3. Writing a program that run the robot in the intended manner (product success)
  4. Being able to make changes to the initial design when facing unexpected challenges (progress success)
  5. Being able to ask for others’ suggestions to counter problems (progress success)

Areas I need to improve in the product/process:

  1. Fix the problem of the arm to make it able to lift up/down when controlled by the joystick (product defect)
  2. The materials list isn’t careful enough, didn’t consider the possibility of lack of materials. Should be improved by planning out some back-up material types when designing. (process defect)
  3. Didn’t consider the possibility of collecting broken materials (ex. motors), should be improved by testing/checking the materials first before picking them up, or collecting at least one more for each material type as back-ups. (process defect)


Impact of this product on the environment and potential client/costumer:

(The video above shows how my product can be used for grabbing objects)

Since the function of my product include lifting the arm (this function is included because the arm can still be lifted but can’t be controlled by joystick) and opening/closing the claw, the potential clients include children and teenagers who are interested in mechanisms, and adults who like to play remote control toys for entertainment.

My product can impact the environment (social environment) by entertaining the clients, helping them to relax in spare time and establishing a positive mood. It may also create a profound influence in building the clients’ interest in mechanisms and robotics. That’ll make great affect on the community (of the users) by forming them a new hobby and (might) even leading them to a new career.

Create and Improve

First day building:

I planned to build the base of the robot first by mounting metal pieces together using nails. But when I was going to fix the three sides of the base with a fourth side, I couldn’t find a metal block with the length I wanted. So, I spent the rest of the class cutting the metal into the length I wanted.


Second day building:

After creating the base, I started to build the arm of the robot. It was a little puzzled for me to mount the motor at first, but I understood later that I need to put a hollow cylinder bar to act as a pat between the space, while letting the motor being able to pass its mechanical power through to the gears.

This is how the mechanism of the arm looks like:


Third day building:

In my final class time, I set the goal of finish building the robot. In this way, I was concentrating on putting together the claw.

I faced 2 problems that urged improvements of my plan. The first one is a lack of materials. I needed two special curved shape metal pieces that act as the waist of the claw (which is crucial in the robot structure). But the robotics lab only has one piece free. So, I asked Mr. Beaty for feedback. He suggested me to find another type of metal piece that can make up the similar function. It was lucky that I could find a similar shaped material to use as replacement:

(The middle one is my original plan’s material)

Even though, the substitute still isn’t what I exactly wanted because the degrees of the two are different. The original one has a greater degrees of curve, which the claw can be more flexible when moving with the arm.

The other problem I faced was about the design for the build. The reference I used said to mount the 2 metal pieces I mentioned above at the exterior of the claw. That actually wasn’t feasible because it left a space between, which will make the claw unstable when actually fixed by a long nail.

So, I improved the design by mounting the 2 pieces both at the inside of the claw.

Then, I mount on the motor of claw…

My robot was finished building:

See My Prototype’s Video

Programming and Testing:

I wrote the program that gives the remote control ability to control the movement of the arm and claw:

I connected the battery and data wires… and started my testings (green lights=good)


First Test:

I dowloaded my program to the robot and ROBOTC said that my joystick wasn’t updated, so the program couldn’t run successfully. Hence, I updated the joystick to the latest version…


Second Test:

I was using the VEXnet keys (which are USBs that can connect the arcade control and robot wirelessly) to establish the connection. This message meant that there was something wrong with the connection. Then, I found out that my VEXnet keys couldn’t connect for some reasons.

If the keys are connected, they both should illuminate blue lights. But my arcade control’s key isn’t illuminating. That means the network isn’t establishing properly. I had no idea to fix this problem. So, I decided to use another way to connect my robot and arcade control, which is using a cable connection. The program finally downloaded successfully!


Third Test:

Click here to see my Test 3 Video (arm doesn’t move, different with the video below)

In this test, I found out that my arm doesn’t move when controlled by the arcade control, while my claw was able to move:

I doubt that it’s the problem of the connection of the wire:

So, I changed the data wire, but it still doesn’t work. Then, I thought it might be the problem of the motor. But I don’t have another free motor to change. Therefore, my project was half-successfully finished.

Develop and Plan

My Design:


Use VEX materials to build a robot arm that can be controlled by a remote control. The robot arm would have 2 parts being able to move: the arm, the claw.


  1. 7 metal blocks
  2. 2 gears
  3. 2 motors
  4. 1 claw
  5. 1 VEX cortex
  6. 1 joystick
  7. data wires
  8. a bunch of nails and nuts



  1. Use 4 metal blocks to build the base of the robot arm, use nails to fix them together. The base will be in a rectangular shape.
  2. Take 2 gears and mount them using nails, leave an empty space in between by putting a block to separate them. (arm mechanism)
  3. Take a claw (can be directly found at robotics lab), connect with a metal block using nail to build the top part of arm.
  4. Mount 2 metal blocks at the base of one side using nails (create bottom part of arm)
  5. Mount the top part of arm with the bottom part using nails
  6. Mount the VEX cortex onto the base using nails
  7. Mount one motor at the bottom part of the arm, connect its wire to the cortex
  8. Mount one motor at the claw, connect its wire to the cortex



Language: RobotC

Write a program that use the joystick to control the robot arm, use the right side 8U/8D buttons to open/close the claw. Use the left side channel to move the arm up/down.


Schedule Plan:

1st class: finish building the base

2nd class: finish building the top part of arm (claw)

3rd class: finish building the bottom part of arm (arm mechanism), mount on the cortex

At home: programming, testing

Define and Inquire

This engineering task is targeting for designing and creating a product that involves conversion/transfer of energy, being used to learn physics, or being able to convert a renewable energy source and convert it to electrical energy.

  1. Solar car plan

My idea is to make a solar powered car. The examples here are relatively simple, and it fulfill the project’s objective by taking renewable energy source – solar energy and converting it to electrical energy, then mechanical energy. I prefer the first video since this one seems easier to accomplish than the second one. Also, I think the first one can be more balanced driving as a mobile product because the driving force is from both back wheels, while the second one is turning from the side, which may not go as straight. Hence, I would use the first video as my reserving plan if my skill is limited for achieving my primary plan.

This is an interesting idea for me since it didn’t use the electricity converted directly for the wheels, it was used for turning the fan at the back of the car. Then, the fan’s wind push forward the car and was used as the driving force. My worry for this is that I’m not sure if the power of the fan can really drive up the car. But the risk can be covered by my substitute plan.


2 Robot arm plan

(Referencing with VEX clawbot, but I’m only building an arm)

The other plan of mine is to create a robot arm that’s controlled by joystick. This fits the project’s objective since it takes in electric energy and convert it into mechanical energy when moving the arm up and down, and opening/closing the claw. My client can be children and teenagers who like to play robotic toys. The robot arm would be controlled by a joystick, in which the client can use the robot to pick up objects for fun.

The pros for this plan is that I can use VEX materials for building, which are available at school. I also have experience with ROBOTC programming, in which it is realistic for me to create the product. The cons can be that it needs time to build the robot and test my program, which can be complex since it involves a lot of refining.

Resource1 I find for referencing

Resource 2 I find for referencing


Idea I like but not going to use:

See Kismet Project

The Kismet project is one of the ideas that I like. The researchers had built a social robotic head that’s specialized for face to face interactions. It can detect humans’ face expressions and voices while it also has ample face expressions itself. The pro for this idea is that it fits the goal of our engineering task by converting electrical energy to mechanical energy. The con is that this idea involves a lot of expertise that made it unrealistic for me to achieve. Though I like this idea, I could only use it for reference at most.

Almost, Maine – Exploring the Text, Where it Went

By Susan 

Examine the title: The title “Where it Went” is an indicative of a conflict that’s crucial to the plot line of the script. By using “where” to illuminate a sense of uncertainty, the title pointed out a missing object that drove a series of deeper problems between the couples. It could be descriptive in the aspect that it pointed out the cause/initiation of the storyline, but it haven’t describe the true conflict or what Marci is discontent of. I see the title being sarcastic since Marci’s shoe isn’t taken by Phil, so the madness overwhelming her is a little bit pointless. The disappearance of the shoe is more like a mandate of god, that’s used for experimenting their relationship and drawing forth the two’s breach. 

Read the play: By portraying the reality that Phil doesn’t pay much attention to his family, and the fact that Marci doesn’t know how to express herself, and her ideal for her husband’s responsibilities, the play indicated its’ topic – conflict in a couple’s relationship. The themes of the play include the balance of attention for family and work, and the honesty and responsibility taken to maintain relationships. I discovered the second theme because both Marci and Phil aren’t being honest with each other. Marci doesn’t know how to express her discontent (until at the climax of the play), while Phil is kept escaping to confront his fault for being irresponsible in the relationship. The voice of the 2 speakers are both mad, but not mad for the same reason. Marci was mad for Phil not paying enough attention on her, not contributing on their relationship even when she offer clues about their first kiss’ location, that’s the setting of the play: Echo Pond in Almost Maine. 

Study the ending: Because of Phil’s stubborn resistance in admitting his remiss in being responsible for his relationship, the play has taken me to an ending that the 2 couples broke apart unhappily. When the shoe dropped down from the sky, Marci didn’t change her attitude toward Phil. She drove her car directly away. This proved that the shoe isn’t the core of their conflict, it’s just a blasting fuse that helped the 2 uncover the real state of their problem. It was really interesting when the play wrote, “A shooting star cuts across the night sky on the field of stars. Phil sees it.” This refers to the part of the plot when Marci claimed that Phil can’t see the shooting star because he doesn’t pay attention. Now he sees it, does it mean that he start to pay attention to his relationship when he already lose the chance?

Examine the play by parts: Some scenes are symbolic in the play. The first one is how Phil kept asking if Marci’s mad, and Marci always refute it. Until about at the end, Marci finally exploded her emotions and admitted that she’s mad. This hauled out the climax, when the two shared their “bitter water” to each other and still not making a concession. Another scene that I’d seen symbolic is when the shoe dropped down from the sky at the end. 

Nov 26 Video Process Journal Entry

Guest Artist – PJ Rebullida

By Susan

PJ is a gust artist and also a dancer that was invited to our class to teach us about physical theater. Before the class he came, we had only done a monologue and some other acting exercises involving around naturalism. PJ’s arrival had brought us something new.

He did a lot of passing claps exercises with us which trained our focus and reaction speed, and then he would like to optimize this activity by letting us to create our own motions and sounds that collocate with this process of energy transfer. This really trained our creativity and imagination. Another activity he really liked to do is a group exercise about making body shapes. One person start on making an abstract body shape, another person would come in and supplement this shape by making another abstract shape.This exercise may then lead to another person replacing one of the initial pair, or everyone in the class would complement the picture by coming up one by one. But my favorite activity was the one that let us to magnify/minimize/uglify/beautify our pair’s moves. We paired up in groups of 2, one of the pair would lead, and the other one needed to copy his/her moves while magnify/minimize/uglify/beautify it. This was a really interesting activity that challenge our imagination and our use of body. The more we understand about the body, the better control we would have to manipulate the motions, then the better outcome is the performance. 

During those physical theater training, I noticed that I was more opened up with the use of body acting on stage. I was kind of shy for dancing (still now) and some “abstract” physical theater performances (still saying about dancing), but those classes let me had a greater use of body on stage, which made me gradually feeling normal about doing abstract physical movements in front of an audience. 

I also noticed that my classmates had put a full effort on making physical theater, and I had been shocked for a lot of times by their creativity. One example was a dancing piece that a group created. When they were doing the optimized ‘energy transfer’, and they wanted to introduce someone else into the dance, the person who received the ‘energy’ would act as doing another energy transfer to an arbitrary direction, and that direction stood the new person.  Their topic was about a sad girl, and the dance demonstrated how the girl had another sad girl as friend. So, when the girl met another group of people that tried to make her happy, that sad girl was dragging her away, showing how she struggled between the ‘light’ and the ‘darkness’, and I thought that part was really fantastic. (Or maybe that I thought too much).

This experience had expanded my knowledge by warning me the importance of the use of physical acting in theatre creation. It’s critical to have a good understanding about the performance of the body for creating naturalism piece, because emotions are normally demonstrated on the whole body of a character. In the further things I create, I would use this experience as a reminder for me to consider how to use the whole body in expressing a character’s thoughts and emotions. 

Naturalistic Monologue

By Susan

(This is a post that analyzes my first video-recorded performance of my monologue)

Steps I took to prepare the monologue:

  • I asked myself the 7 questions of Stanislavsky to explore deeper into my character in order to have a better understanding of her circumstance in the monologue. In this way, I can build my emotions more easily basing on what I analyzed.
  • I tried convince myself that I’m actually the character in the monologue by trying to imagine that I’m actually been betrayed.
  • I conceived about the expressions the guy (that I’m speaking to) may have and actually imagined that I saw those expressions during the performance, to better release my emotions.

How successful:

  • It was successful in the aspect that I expressed my character’s feelings and thoughts in a quite realistic manner. I showed detailed face expressions and changed my voice’s tone and fluency as the character’s mood changed, making my performance more believable.
  • I was consistently focusing on an unseen character, which made my performance living.
  • I used the idea of relaxation by trying to forget the existence of the audience (even though I only accomplished this idea by almost half half)

Where less successful:

  • My voice sounded a little weird, maybe I should be more clear when speaking.
  • I was actually interrupted by the existence of audience for a few times (even though I wasn’t looking at them, the thought of their existence still popped up) making me to be kept dragging out of the belief that “I’m the character”.

What can done differently:

  • I can be believed into my character more (and forget the existence of audience more) to express my character’s emotions in a better extent. Try to imagine in a even more realistic manner and try to get more sad (it would be the best that if I could actually cry, but it would be really hard).
  • My voice can be more audible.

Self-assessment for rubric:

Physical Characterization: Mastery

Emotional Characterization: Meeting

Concentration fluency and focus: Mastery

Volume and Projection: Meeting

Creation of Addressee: Mastery

Physical Theatre #1

In this physical theatre class, we first did some warm ups that involved shaking the body, then we did an energy passing game. In which we all stood in a circle, then someone start and clapped to someone else in the circle, and then the person who received the clap needed to pass the clap onto another person. After a few rounds, we changed the game into passing ‘energy’ by each time creating a new pose and a sound. Another exercise we did was also about passing energy. In this exercise, we all stood in a line, the person at the end of the line made a pose and a sound, then the person next to her/him needed to repeat on the motion to the next person until it reached at the other end. The trick of this was that everyone shouldn’t think and wait before passing on the motion, or else the transfer of energy wouldn’t be smooth. The teacher upgraded the exercise by letting us to enlarge the motion when repeating it, so we needed to use our imagination to magnify the motion from the previous person. The last activity we did was to use our physical actions to make a group scene. One person started at the stage, then someone else needed to come up and make another motion that would help amplify the scene, then another person came… until the scene is completed. This is also an activity that would test our imagination.

I felt the passing energy exercise was kind of hard if you’re standing at the end of the line, because you needed to think about the actions and sounds to make. This exercise also made me laugh uncontrollably (because I thought it was kind of funny), so it was difficult to be actually focused and reacting fast. I felt the ‘upgraded’ activity of passing energy was actually exercising my imagination because I needed to kept thinking about how to make the motion even bigger. For example, when the line was passing a jump motion, you can’t jump even higher if you’re near the end of the line. In this way, you needed to actually think and imagine new details to add onto the motion to actually amplify it.

This class had a connection with ensemble because the “energy transferring” exercise and the “making a scene” activity were both group pieces that had an audience. For both of the pieces, we needed to use our imagination to fulfill our work and collaborate by building on each others performance. Therefore, it connected with ensemble.

Minic-Devising: Collaborative Project

Today in the class, we first each created a 16 seconds dance under an Indian-style music. Then, we partnered up with someone else to combine our dance, and then performed the combined version to the class. After that, we were divided up into 3 or 4 people groups, each group created an ensemble play based on a random-chosen song, and performed the play toward everyone else in the class at the end.

The following is a list of steps that our group took to create the ensemble play:

  • Read the random chosen song, discuss and conceive a broad story or a simple scene based on the lyrics of the song.
  • Revise and add more scenes or details into the script of the play to meet the requirements of the assessment or to enrich the performance 
  • Try to act out the script, plan and discuss the exact lines to say, revise any parts if the outcome wasn’t satisfying
  • Practice the final version of the play

The greatest success of this performing assessment was that our group had worked efficiently and actually collaborated quite well on planning the plot and scenes of the act. We included and combined all the requirements of the assessment into our story, while all of us had at least one role, some dialogues and actions to perform.

The failure of our assessment was that my teammate laughed uncontrollably on the stage, which also influenced me to laugh at the end of the play. The failure shows the distance I am apart from real actors. I was too easy to be distracted, but good actors should always be in character during a performance. 

This assessment related to ensemble because it’s a group project, in which everyone needed to collaborate with their teammates to produce&perform the piece. In another aspect, the nine ensemble member qualities are also effective requirements for this assessment, and the creation process that this assessment went through can also be identified as the creation process of an ensemble play. Therefore, the assessment can be a form of ensemble piece.