This Week In Lab: Making Mechanisms
A mechanism in engineering is typically described as rigid bodies connected by a joint to accomplish a specific force or transfer motion. To conclude this months topic on simple machines, students were challenged to create a mechanism with a simple machine! But first, a quick review on what makes a structure versus a mechanism was required. A structure must have a foundation of some sort, support, be static and serve a purpose. A mechanism is different from a structure so instructors posed the question “what does a mechanism do?” The answer is, quite a lot of things! They must function for a specific reason, use mechanical advantage and use movement. When listing common mechanisms, such as a door handle, students were asked to think about both the purpose and function of mechanisms, and if they solve a problem!
Before working on their individual challenges, a few more aspects of mechanisms had to be identified. Like, what is their application? And what is the design criteria one should use when creating a new mechanism? Some of the design criteria included: ease of use, durability, ergonomic nature, functionality and style to a certain degree. Once the bases were covered, students excitedly began designing their unique mechanism, first with a sketch then with building materials. They didn’t have to build it, but they were encouraged to which sparked enthusiasm in many students! Some students designed simple elevators, a monorail and even a tank. Ideas were flowing and designs came to life.
While students were busy in Lab in the afternoons building simple machines and mechanisms, the mornings were filled with building ventures! The Build The Future camp ran for four half days and each day their builds grew in number and height. From designing tall towers with reinforced structural supports to creating catapults, this was a fun-filled camp! But it wasn’t all fun and games, as students had to learn some serious physics concepts and engineering approaches in order to be successful in their daily challenges. One day, the instructor dropped a rock and marble to show that everything falls at the same speed! At the end of the week, the happy campers showed off their builds triumphantly to their families and took home a certificate of achievement. Great job in Lab everyone this week!