May 15, 2014
If it takes 4 hours to print one marker and we are in school for 6 hours a day, how many hours will it take us to print 30 markers? How many days will it take us to print 30 markers? After some discussion the class decided that we could print 2 a day if I was willing to stay after school and finish up the second one. The next question is, how many days left in the year and can we make enough markers for the entire staff? The answer to that is yes, if I am willing to put in some after school hours.
One of my favorite aspects of this kind of teaching is real world application. My students have heard word problems like that many times in the past, but have rarely had it impact them so directly. It had meaning, and deeper thinking was involved. It wasn’t just about addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They had to think of different ways we can organize our process to get the job done on time. We are going to be pushing it to the end of the year, but that’s okay. It’s even okay if we don’t finish every single one. I have a few other projects that are going to need to be printed some how. It’s an exciting problem to have.
Last week our switches and magnets arrived. The magnets are ridiculously strong, but are getting the job done. The switches were longer than we expected and that gave us a new problem to solve. Do we send them back and order different ones, or do we redesign the marker? The students decided it would be faster to redesign the marker. They had a new prototype out in less than an hour. They made the inside larger to fit the switch, changed the body to a more rounded shape (which made it much more comfortable to hold) and made both ends removable to make assembly easier. The final product worked perfectly and we have our marker. It’s time to start manufacturing these Markers. The kids have done a remarkable job on this project. I think we have all learned more than we expected. My soldering skills are getting much better!
As we make these, the students will deliver them to the teacher and give them a quick tutorial on how to use them. I’ll post a video as soon as I get a chance.