Pavillion students combined physics and engineering in design class to produce wooden bicycles, submersibles and more
(Pavillion, Wyo.) – Students at Wind River High School are finishing up the first year of a new class offering that, to a person, “is fun and challenging.”
The course is entitled Principles of Design. Instructor Kiley Chatfield (and co-instructor Dirk Gosnell) team teach the course, which Chatfield said incorporates physics, mathematics, and science in hands-on projects. “The class meets our science and career and technical standards and students can receive credits in either,” he said.
A door in the classroom/workshop leads to the outside, where two large blue plastic tanks sit. The tanks are for testing one class project, and Remote controlled Underwater Vehicle, or RUV. Students Allison Johnson, a senior, and Mindy Russel, a sophomore, have submerged their respective RUVs and using a remote control, attempt to get the submersible to dive and move around the tank.
“We use the RUVs to test neutral buoyancy, but first we had to design them, create a wiring system, waterproof the housing and make the propellers on a 3D printer,” Johnson said. Russell said to begin the project, she and the other students went to an internet site to look for ideas on how to design the RUV and what size they wanted it to be. “It took about six weeks to work it all out, there was a lot of trial and error,” she said. Johnson noted that the class still doesn’t have a functioning model. “We’ve done lots of testing, we’ve had wiring issues and propeller issues, they keep falling off or are too small,” she said.
Russell said the goal was to drive the RUVs around a second tank, the bottom of which contained small pieces of PCV pipe segments that the remote submersible was supposed to be able to retrieve. “The neutral buoyancy has also been an issue.”
Overall, the two students said it has been a fun class that involved a lot of problem solving, teamwork and intricate work. “To waterproof the motors housing we used toilet bowl wax and we powered the remote control with AA batteries,” Johnson said.
Elsewhere in the class shop area, Kaiden Burk stood with his wooden bicycle. “Our instructors provided the wood, but we had to come up with our own design. We glued and used screws to keep it together,” he said. “I’ve sat on mine and walked it around, it was pretty neat. My little brother will be 13 in July, I think this will be his early birthday present.”
Burk said the most difficult part of the job was the front end, making it strong enough for the wheel and frame to the handlebars. “I had to keep adjusting and adding things to it so it wouldn’t bend,” he said. “It was fun, a little stressful in some areas, but overall pretty fun.”
At another table, Morgan Miller, Weston Miles, Jared Guina, and Jerrick Trumble were in various stages of making very light basa wood kites with very thin tissue paper. “I’m using dowels, string and glue for the frame,” Miller said. The students were using different kite designs, from a box kite, to flexible or rigid designs and the mono-plane style that most people associate with kite flying.
Roger Salazar, back in the main classroom, was showing off a 3D printer and how it worked and how different colors can be added into a design. “We have two, the other is in another room,” he said of the printer, which was presently loaded with a silver plastic rope. “We used it last year in robotics class to make our own parts and things like legos,” he said.
The students had four major projects this year in the class, designing and creating compressed air mortar cannons with different styles of projectiles, CO2 powered cars, the bicycles and the submersibles. Other smaller projects also occupied the student’s time.
Burk said the class projects were of the type, “that it made you want to learn to solve the problem, not to give up on them but to keep trying,” he said. “And it was fun.”
Chatfield said that was the whole goal of the class. “We wanted to incorporate physics and engineering for problem solving. This was the first year of this class, it has been quite successful,” he said.
There were 15 students enrolled in the class this year.
Photos below h/t Ernie Over