For our final field trip of this year, 44 students from the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) School came for a field trip on December 7th, 2019 to learn about engineering. The field trip was on the first day of NU finals, so much lower volunteer turn-out: thank you Francheska and Jameson for coming to help! Would have been very difficult without you two. A large number of the students (~12) were students that participated in the Mendell EFA Robotics last year, so they were very happy to see me (Nick) again (and it was nice to see them again)! In addition, a large number (probably 3/4) of the students had been on a STEM field trip to Northeastern before, meaning they were pretty familiar with engineering already, so the presentation was a refresher for them.
Deeming them to be more experienced than other classes, I chose not to show them any sample catapults during the catapults activity. In addition, rather than shooting for accuracy + precision (which wouldn’t work with limited volunteers), the students were told to build catapults that shot as far as possible. These changes resulted in more non-working catapults during the initial round of testing, but learning what did and didn’t work, the students improved their designs and increased their shooting distance. The winning design shot a skittle over 30 feet.
After lunch, the students built their reverse egg dropdesigns, using “$100” to select their materials and design an egg-catching device. Student designs were very varied in this class; my favorite designs were two groups who used “energy redirection” designs, which come up very rarely (this was only my second time seeing them). The first group’s design used a balloon to absorb some energy and bounce the egg sideways into a catch area. Sadly, the balloon was not taped down so the egg hit the balloon, pushing it aside and smashing into the ground under it. The second group built a 45 degree angle ramp for their egg to hit and roll down. Unfortunately, their ramp was not thick enough to support the falling egg and the egg smashed through the ramp into the ground. Still, very creative designs!