Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Update: Alex's Science Project and Roller Coaster




Song:  Sky Becomes Water

Group:  City Of The Fallen



Ok...
I've got to warn you...
it is not pretty!

"Function before form!"...
that is what I always say!

Well, I usually say it after I produce efficient...
but, plain, ugly pieces of work  :)

Although the coaster is functional (for the most part)...
there are a few minor touches to complete the project.

Alex must still type up the final report on it.

He should be finished with it by tonight.


As Alex was given less than 2 weeks...
from conception to completed project...
with his daily school workload...
as well as other papers in other classes...
and a science project being worked on at the same time...
there simply was not time for him to actually construct the roller coaster himself.  


This had to be a Father - Son project.

Alex did all of the data gathering...
number crunching...
and typing up of the project.
I merely constructed the coaster to make it functional (however ugly it is).

I wish we had a month to do it, so I could have walked him through the 
actual construction of it.  

As a result of our short completion time...
I had to walk him through it after the fact.

I explained the steps I had taken, and why.

He then did multiple timed runs...
and he is compiling his data and procedural information
to complete his report.



Alex using a stop watch to time the runs.
He then had to measure distance and calculate average speed of the marble.

As there was a variable which we had no control over...
(absolute tracking of the marble which affected the behavior of the marble
in the inverted cone as it spiraled...and of the precise exit on to the peg board.
This, of course, varied the distance traveled...
and even the rate of travel...as the pegs introduced marble slow down).


Yes...I used four empty toilet paper tubes as supports underneath the inverted cone :)

The "trees" were initially made from twisted pieces of paper...
until my wife pointed out that Q-tips were made of tightly rolled paper.
Ah...good one wifey :)

I was stupidly wasting time trying to twist pieces of paper for each tree.



Trouble in paradise.
I had to make a few minor adjustments to the marble return ramp beneath the inverted cone...
as the marble stalled due to a piece of tape coming loose.


Alex practicing the marble runs.
By moving the initial marble drop tube...
the tracking could be changed.

It had to be right if the marble were to make the leap to the inverted cone.





Alex enjoying the failed marble test runs as much as the successful ones.



Alex crunching the numbers.

This was not a straight forward process.

The distance covered by the marble was so varied, as the inverted cone allowed
the marble to spiral a few times...or many times...
depending on the entrance point and speed...
which depended on the initial track of the marble.

As you may remember...
the conditions of the roller coaster involved having it made
of nothing other than a paper product and glue or paste...and tape.
Nothing else could be used.

It had to incorporate at least...
 two hills...
one loop...
a leap of at least one inch...
and at least a total of 720 degrees of turns...
 a completed run under nothing but gravity...
and all within a space of 24' x 36".

I knew I had to be efficient in the construction of this project
as we were limited in time.

Soooo...
I had to limit the number of corners to... none :)

Other than the loop...
I had to make no curved ramps...
which would have taken time to support correctly.

The first hill was the initial drop ramp...one down.

The second "hill" was the parabolic arc the marble tracked in space
as it left the ramp, and until it landed on the inverted cone...two down.

The loop could not be helped.
I had to construct a curved marble run...
however, the support needed was unidirectional...
in direct line with the track of the marble.
With just one piece of cardboard supporting the midline of the marble run...
I eliminated the need for multiple supports providing both vertical and horizontal stability...
three down.

Now... the inverted cone was particularly devious of me.
It allowed us to the fulfill the requirement of a complete circuit...
and the requirement of at least 720 degrees of turns...all in one.

As the marble spiraled down...
it completed thousands of degrees of turns.
I simply added a return ramp from underneath the center cone 
which reversed the marble's direction...
all without the need for multiple curves and the necessary supports.
Four down...and the requirements met.

Lazy?

NO...
efficient!  :)


Is my constructing of the roller coaster cheating by not having Alex construct it
all himself?

No.

I was merely Alex's lab assistant.

He had to first draw out a scaled model on graph paper
(the first part of the coaster).

I merely did the grunt work.

Again...
had we had more than 13 days to complete the whole project...
and if he didn't have other projects to complete at the same time...
I would have had him construct it under my supervision.

As it was...
I walked him through what I had done...
and how I had done it.

Also, remember...
this was for one of his MATH classes.

The whole idea was to be able to mine data from the test runs...
to compile it, and to analyze, graph, and present it in Algebraic 
and layman terms.


Alex did all of the other work.

I merely did the art portion of it....well...
OK...by the looks of the coaster...
Art is not a word that really applies  :)


He still must graph out the results...
and type out many pages of the report.

However...
this is where he is now with his report.



The following is what will be included with the roller coaster.

It is to give it a theme...
a true story line giving the true essence...
the soul of the mere physical coaster...

OK...
it is to hopefully distract people from the pure ugliness of the coaster  :)

(but hey...the coaster works!)



Remember...
the name of the roller coaster is Dragon's Flight...
and the red marble is the Fire Dragon.










Hopefully they will see the art in the intent...
as described in text...
rather than the raw reality of duct tape and cut cardboard  :)





The below is where Alex is at with his Science Fair project
(Besides what he has already typed up for his project as described in an earlier article).

This is about as far as he can go until we actually start running it.






Last night Alex couldn't work on anything else besides his normal homework...
and a two page essay which is due this Thursday.

He finished it up last night so he could concentrate on his roller coaster report.

He has until the end of Friday to complete it, as we will be in California
for the weekend for a school trip.  We won't be back until late Sunday night.
His project is due that Monday morning.

So long as he doesn't get another essay in the next couple of days...
he has plenty of time to do it.



2 comments:

  1. Oh boy, I would not have been able to help my son on this roller coaster project at all. And as for the math itself, it could have been written in a foreign language for all I understood. I'd be interested in finding out what the teacher says, and what the other students did.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will find out next Monday. I will be taking his project to his classroom then. I hope to be able to see some of the others.

    ReplyDelete

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