Elementary Wooden Design Challenge

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About: Computer Science, Technology & Engineering, and Mathematics High School Teacher

This project has high school engineering students research, design, and manufacture a wooden kit for elementary aged students to assemble using only a hammer and a screw driver. The engineering students for this project were 9-12 grade and the students that assembled the kits were first graders.

To summarize the engineering students have to manufacture a kit for a first grader to assemble with only a hammer and nails. The kit has a five dollar limit and must contain a 3D printed component.

When I have the students do a project I want their to be a purpose behind just the learning objectives. I want the project to have some community involvement or help solve a larger problem.

The larger problems I saw were the following:

1. My engineering students do not know how to use hand tools or power tools.

In a suburban school district my students do not usually work with their hands that much at home. I felt a need to show them how to use basic tools.

2. There is no technology education exposure to the elementary schools.

I wanted to spark interest in the elementary grade levels in hopes that I can increase enrollment in technology education based courses in both the middle and high schools.

I will walk through the steps of this 25 day project of this project in this instructable. This was the culminating project for these student for the 18-19 school year.

Supplies:

These are just suggestions. Change up the materials as you see fit in your classroom.

Materials:

Tools

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Drill
  • Hand miter box and saw
  • Tape Measure Speed
  • Square Power
  • Miter Box

Fasteners

  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Eyehook
  • Screws

Consumables

  • 1”x4” pine board
  • 1”x6” pine board
  • ¼” pine dowel
  • ½” pine dowel
  • ¾” pine dowel
  • 1¼“ pine dowel
  • 1½” pine dowel
  • 2” pine dowel
  • 1/8” press board Twine

Additional Materials

  • Drill Bits
  • Hole saw
  • Tape measure
  • Speed Square
  • Gallon Bags

Hardware & Software:

  • AutoCAD Inventor
  • 3D Printers

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: The Design Brief (Day 1)

To start the project my students always start with a design brief that give the students any relevant information that they may require for the project. I have attached a PDF that you can use as a guide, but here is a link to an editable word document that you can alter to use in your classroom. I also included the text below. This brief goes in more detail with providing the cost of all materials for the project.

I calculated the cost for the items below from shopping at my local supply shop. The cost of materials are going to become a large factor in the project because the students are limited to a five dollar total per kit. Besides materials cost the students need to calculate costs for manufacturing labor time and 3-D printed components.

Elementary Wooden Challenge Design Brief

Client: Lincoln Elementary School in Wauwatosa, WI

Target Consumer: Elementary Age Students

Designer: _____________________________________

Problem Statement:

Elementary aged students in the Wauwatosa School District are not exposed to technical education courses at an early age. Experience with tools and construction at an early age encourages students in taking technology education related courses in high school. Elementary aged students should be exposed to age appropriate projects to peak their interests.

Design Statement:

One of the best ways to introduce elementary students to STEM is to have high school STEM students design simple projects created using wooden fabricated items with step by step directions that an Elementary student could follow to assemble the high school students design using simple tools.

Materials:

Tools

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Drill
  • Hand miter box and saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Speed Square
  • Power Miter Box

Fasteners

  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Eyehook
  • Screws

Consumables

  • 1”x4” pine board
  • 1”x6” pine board
  • ¼” pine dowel
  • ½” pine dowel
  • ¾” pine dowel
  • 1¼“ pine dowel
  • 1½” pine dowel
  • 2” pine dowel
  • 1/8” press board
  • Twine

Additional Materials

  • Drill Bits
  • Hole saw
  • Tape measure
  • Speed Square
  • Gallon Bags

Hardware & Software:

  • AutoCAD Inventor
  • 3D Printers

Constraints:

1. The wooden object must be able to be assembled by an elementary aged student using only a hammer and a screwdriver.

2. The wooden object must consist of a minimum of two nails and two screws.

3. At least one component must be 3D printed.

4. The wooden object must have step-by-step directions that an elementary aged student could understand in order to replicate the wooden object.

5. Must produce a complete kit for an elementary aged student to assemble that is under $5.

6. Detailed Report of Manufacturing Process and Cost must be calculated.

7. Each group must produce an exemplar plus one elementary kit per group member.

Material Costs:

Specialty Tools

· 3D Printer/Plastic $1 per hour

· Instructor Cut or Plane $1

· Printing Instructions $0.10 per page B&W $0.25 color.

Fasteners

· Nails $0.01 each

· Screws $0.02 each

· Eyehooks $0.07 each

· Sisal $0.01 per foot

· Gallon Plastic Bag $0.07

Dowels

· ¼ in. Pine Dowel $0.13 per foot

· ½ in Pine Dowel $0.25 per foot

· ¾ in Pine Dowel $0.50 per foot

· 1¼ in Pine Dowel $ 0.87 per foot

· 1½ in Pine Dowel $1.29 per foot

· 2 in Pine Dowel $1.95 per foot

Boards

· 1/8 x size in. pressboard $3.39 for 2x4 ft sheet

· 1x4 in. Pine Board $0.37 per foot

· 1x6 in. Pine Board $0.57 per foot

Manufacturing Labor

· $15 Per Hour

Step 2: Research (Days 2-3)

At this point in the year my students have designed and built projects before, but never at a set cost. The big question to answer is what can I build at a five dollar limit? This is when I had the students price out kits that already exist. I have the students calculate the cost of all materials in the kit as well as estimate the manufacturing costs.

I obtained all of my kits from Home Depot. I reached out to local stores Human Resources Department and I was able to obtain over twenty different wooden kits for free. Pretty awesome.

To calculate manufacturing costs I has the students refer to the Design Brief. I had the students assume they were going to play a worker $15 an hour to make these kits. So I had the students estimate the number of cuts that were made on the Home Depot kits and count the number of holes drilled.

To calculate the cost for drilling I had a student do the following in front of the class and I timed it without the student knowing (I did not want the student to rush for safety reasons):

1. I gave the student two random dimensions to mark the center drill location on a 1" thick piece of pine scrap wood. An actual thickness of 1 inch. This leads to a nice discussion about how board sizes do not actually match the dimensions given. This drill time I called Time 1 for the equation in step 3.

2. I then had the student drill out the hole. (Time 2)

3. Now we could calculate the total time to drill a hole by taking the time to mark the drill location (Time 1) and adding it to the time to drill through the given thickness of the board Time 2 times board thickness (x).

Total Drilling time = Time 1 + Time 2 * x

Now repeat the same procedure for cutting a board. Make sure you take all dimensions in account for the board. To start I had the students use a hand miter box, but later on we re calculated this formula using a power miter box. These are just rough numbers. Nothing to rush on. SAFETY is key.

Step 3: Research Continued (Day 4)

Next the students did research on what they thought they wanted to design. This is where I reminded the students of the project constraint that their project needed a 3D printed component.

Step 4: Design (Days 5-12)

Now the students needed to create some annotated sketches of what they wanted to design and build. As part of this annotated sketch the student had to create an estimate of materials and manufacturing costs.

Next the students shared their ideas with their group before narrowing down to a final design. Some students used a Decision Matrix to aid in their decision making process.

After a final design was chosen the students then created their teams working drawings in a 3D modeling software. We used AutoCAD Inventor Professional. These were the blue prints we would use to manufacture the students end result.

Remind students of the requirement that at least two nails and two screws must be used in the assemble process. This way the students include these components in their designs. Students would also create their 3D printed components at this time.

Step 5: Building and Testing (Days 13-23)

This is the step where the students are going to start using power and hand tools. I had the students take a safety test on each power tool and individual demonstrate properly using any tools before they were able to use the tools before they were allowed to use any tools.

Students now create a single working model of their design. This is where a lot of redesign is done and 3D printing. Most students end up making revisions during this step. Some common fixes students had were:

1. The teams would find out that a screw in their design was in a position that was impossible to screw in.

2. The 3D printed part was too small or large.

3. When hammering in nails the nails would bend over. This was really common. We had to have a long discussion that if high school students cannot hammer in the nails straight how could a first grader? A simple fix is to pre-drill out all of the nailing holes. This can be done with a appropriately sized bit or a nail. Yup a nail. Students go through small bits like candy. So what I would do is cut off the top of the nail the students are going to use and place that nail in a drill. This works extremely well and is way cheaper than buying a stack of drill bits (See Photos).

4. Students would struggle to use a screwdriver to put in a screw. Very similar discussion to the one above. I had the students just pre-drill the screw holes with an appropriately sized bit. Since the bits are larger there were no issues here with students breaking the bits.

During this step also have students start thinking about assemble directions for their intended audience. I had my students taking pictures and writing down directions as the team assembled their prototype. Here are some examples:

After the prototype was proven each student in the group had to manufacture a single kit for their first grader. The kit was assembled in a plastic bag and contained all of the following components:

1. Assemble Directions

2. Wooden Materials

3. Screws

4. Nails

5. Miscellaneous items such as paper, stickers, rope, twine, etc.

The kit had to be ready to go when the child was ready to assemble the product with the provided hammer and screw driver.

During this step I was also doing specialized cuts for the students. I was planing down boards, making angled cuts, drilling out holes for dowels. Any task the students were not trained in at this point. I would charge the students a flat fee of $1 total for all of their kits. I told the students I was a specialized manufacturer that could complete a task for them that they did not have the skill to complete themselves.

Step 6: Evaluation (Day 24)

This was the fun part. I had 62 first graders come over and build a kit one-on-one with the engineering student that designed and manufactured the kit. At the end the first grader took home the kit and filled out an evaluation on the kit for the high school student to use in part of their project reflection (PDF/Word).

Step 7: Presentation (Day 25)

Throughout the entire process the students need to be documenting their work and putting it together. I use a virtual engineering notebook. I accomplish this using Google Slides.

This is also the step where the students will reflect on their design and again make more modifications to improve the final design.

Here are some student examples:

Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3

Step 8: Grading

Lame.

It is lame that we have to assess our students, but here is the rubric I used to do it (PDF/Google Sheet).

I also gave this additional resource to the students as a general checklist in what to include in the project (PDF/Google Doc).

Step 9: My Final Reflections

Takeaways

The project went well. Both the high school and elementary students had a good time. More importantly the high school students learned a lot and got their hands on some tools. I will repeat this project with some tweaks.

  • Most students used the 1''x6'' over the 1''x4'' pine boards.
  • I had the elementary students use 6 oz hammers. I thought they would be small enough but I should have went with a 6 oz stubby hammer for their little hands.
  • If the project is meant to be outside I will have the students apply a seal-coat next year or some outdoor paint to protect the project.
  • I was worried that some of the groups would not finish in time and that some first graders would not have a project to assemble. So I created a dozen wood projects just in case. I did not need them. No student wanted to be the reason a first grader did not have a project to work on.

Note

If a student team chooses a bird house make sure the house can be opened for the nesting material to be removed.

Outcomes

The technology education woodworking classes filled up quickly and students were on a wait-list this year. So that was pretty cool outcome. I am hoping that we add additional sections for next school year.

Stretch Goals

  • This year I would like in incorporate a laser engraver in the students projects.
  • I would like to get the art department involved in either painting the projects with the students or in the design process.

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    2 Discussions

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    seamster

    21 days ago

    This is really great to see!! Thank you for sharing all the details. Very nicely presented! : )

    1 reply
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    MichaelW768seamster

    Reply 14 days ago

    Thank you for the feedback. Being my first instructable it is nice to get feedback to know that I provided enough information for another person to follow.