Saturday, January 17, 2015

a motor in a box...

I have been working on a dedicated hinging machine for fitting barbed hinges in my small boxes. At this point, I have a motor installed in a box, and a sliding table made for the top. Next comes a fence to position the depth that the blade will cut. This is a seat of the pants engineering operation, but one based on having made many jigs and shop fixtures in the past. I have been gathering the parts for months.

My daughter sent the photo of nuts, bolts and washers from her classroom in New York. Knowing Lucy as I do, I am sure that she also made the small  paper boxes to hold them.

This was a science demonstration for her 7th grade classes. The following is our text exchange about the project:
Lucy: My introduction to the difference between elements and compounds and compounds and mixtures today :) My kids didn't know what bolts, nuts, and washers were.

Doug: That must mean they've never fixed anything, never taken anything apart, and likely never studied things closely enough to understand how things are made. That lesson must have been fascinating for them.

Lucy: True! I doubt they have done much (if any) tinkering. And they like anything that they can play with! They definitely had a better idea of what compounds were by the end of the lesson!

At some point we need to return to schooling in which kids do real things and attain some level of mastery over real world circumstances. Is it enough that they have the skills so readily acquired by monkeys in zoos, to slide fingers over glass and enjoy the visual effects with no real work having been done?

For some of us, having been raised before the digital revolution, knowing how things are made and assembled is a matter of curiosity and of interest. And it seems unfathomable that children on this planet would not enjoy knowing what we know.

If you get kids' hands engaged with the nuts and bolts of creation (let's not forget the washers), they may develop the passion and the confidence to create and the skill to see their creations come to life.

Yesterday, at school, I repaired a scroll saw, which required a trip to the hardware store to find a replacement nut. Then I pulled a pulley off a lathe motor in hopes of getting it ready to fix when a new motor arrives. When doing that, I discovered that I should have heated the aluminum pulley with a torch first.  I damaged it and had to order a replacement part for $7.00.  Without experience, without tools and without a few simple skills, I would have been as helpless as a city kid confronted by a nut or bolt.

Make, fix and create...

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