Hey instructables community and readers from the www,
this ible is going to be a little bit different then the ones I usually write. It is about a school project that my schoolmates and I built back in 2013 in my technology class. We were 10 people and this was supposed to be our final project before we graduate so it had to be something special. The topic was "construction technology" and we were brainstorming what we could do. One thing was clear from the beginning: it had to be a group project. Usually everybody builds his own little project in the end of every theory phase but this time we wanted to work together. We had a few ideas. A small city where a few of us create the base and others build houses was the result after one hour of planning.
When I came home from school I turned on the TV to relax a little bit - I had waaaayyy more free time back then :D - I I watched an Episode of "Two and a Half Men" and when I saw the intro which shows Malibu Beach it struck me like a lightning. We should build a smaller version of Malibu Beach. I took a piece of paper and a pen and started sketching, then I turned my laptop on and drew a plan.
The next morning I presented my idea to the course and they fell in love with it. My teacher liked it so much that he offered to sponsor a part of it with 100€ of his own money. We were all pretty surprised but of course we were happy to have such a supportive teacher.
We began splitting the work: two people for the terrain and the street one person for a small bridge and the rest was supposed to build 4 houses.
Step 1: The Plan
My plan was to use a 1,5mX1,5m MDF board as the base and to build the terrain out of styrofoam. The terrain was supposed to have different levels: The beach level, the street level with the houses and the oblique mountainside.
Each of the 4 houses would be built on top of a retractable 35cmX40cm MDF board so that the house groups would be able to finish them in a different location while the terrain crew is working . LED lights should light up the street as well as the houses. To power everything rails of aluminium tape would be placed on the styrofoam and the houses as well as the street would have contacts underneath them.
Step 2: The Landscape
A friend of mine and I where the "lucky" ones chosen to build the landscape because everybody else wanted to build a super cool beach house . We cut the styrofoam boards to the right size and glued them on top of each other to create the beach level and the street level. The beach was a styrophoam plate that we sanded at an angle.
For the mountainside we curved the ends of the boards so that it looked like a three-dimensional version of a map. We then went on mixing plaster with a little bit of water, waited a few minutes before we put it on top of our 3D-map and carefully spread it with a scraper. A brush helped us to get a little bit of texture into the surface. It began to look more and more like a real mountain. The next day we spray painted it in a rock-like gray.
Now it was time for the street to take shape. We had 2 MDF pieces and covered them with roofing felt. The street markings were painted on by my friend using some acrylic paint.
Step 3: The Lights
While he was painting I began to make the street lights. For this I used 2,5cm pieces of LED-strip the same that I used in my cabinet light project . After I had soldered 20cm of wire to 20 pieces I took a few straws that I cut to the right model-streetlight-length and ran the wires through them from the top to the bottom. I attached the the LED's to the top part of the straws using some hot glue.
I took them home and repurposed my mom's clothes horse as a painting stand as it can be seen in the pictures. Before i started spray painting I put small pieces of tape ofer the LED's that I removed afterwards.
We drilled wholes into the street and put the streetlights in. The wires were secured with hot glue and connected to two aluminium tape rails underneath. We put the street onto the base plate and where glad to see that it looked pretty realistic.
Step 4: The Finishing Touch
You might have recognized from the photos that we build a small plateau on our mountainside. It would be boring to simply add a piece of paper with the title to the project so we decided to make the name tag special by building a miniature billboard.
For the billboard lights I desoldered the small SMD LED's from the strip, put them directly next to each other and soldered them back together which wasn't fairly tricky. I then bent a paperclip as it can be seen in the picture, hot glued the LED's to it and covered it with gray tape. The board itself is made out of small pieces of wood and glued together with wood glue. I attached the small lamps and tested it. Then I added a printed piece of paper.
Now it was ready to be placed on top of the mountain.
Step 5: Bringing the Parts Together
On our last day we ran out of time so sand and blue rocks as water were added later and can not be seen in the photos. We finally put all the different parts together: the houses, the street and the beautifully crafted bridge. We took the base plate and carried it into our schools foyer, where it was placed on top of two desks and plugged in. It looked great and we were all proud and happy that our work would be seen by students and teachers for the next few weeks.
This was three years ago and I really miss that time. The technology course was the best school subject that I could imagine and I don't know any other school in my area that offers such a subject although in my opinion it is extremely important that young students get the opportunity to get creative and build different things themselves.
I wanted to share that project with you to give you a little insight into my school life and into a course that shaped me as a person. In those five years I had access to many different tools learned how to use them and how to work with them safely. I also learned how combustion engines work, how planes fly, how transistors work, what a differential is and much more and the most important thing: I was able to work on projects like this together with my friends.
I hope this inspires some of you to stand up for more technology courses in schools.