If you’ve been following this blog, you might recall that the Advanced Engineering class was laying out conceptual designs for a playground structure destined for the Lower Campus. They have been fairly quiet since then, except for announcing a grant that was awarded in October. However, much has gone on in the background: our six students have been learning about stress strain, Hooke’s Law, materials science, and cross-section analysis. They also began work on a long-term design report that will be completed by the end of the year.

And then…

Our own Sarah Jane suggested that the group take the advice of local architect Jeff Shelton, and turn out a scale model of our intended structure. It wasn’t in Mr. Meadth’s original curriculum plans, but it seemed like a good idea!

So they turned to the CAD model.

For any CAD nerds out there, you’ll recognize this as having been created in SketchUp, a fully-featured free program commonly used by architects and product designers the world over.

This model was completed jointly by the entire class, with each of the six tackling individual parts and then sending the file to Mr. Meadth for incorporation into the whole.

Some aspects of the model have been since changed, such as standardizing the railing system across the entire model. It’s a continual work in progress, as the group shifts from conceptual to detailed design.

After some packs of balsa wood, modelling clay, and other miscellaneous items arrived in the mail, the team set to work making a 1:16 scale model. Caleb became quite proficient with a craft knife.

The four surrounding trees were created in clay, courtesy of Sarah Jane, and Kylie got very good at staining balsa with a foam brush.

Hot glue guns at the ready!
Jake carefully placed his pieces onto the board (helpfully supplied by Tys)…
Much work was done by Aaron and Kylie over the next few weeks, in lieu of their usual teacher assistant job in Foundations of Engineering II, and our Westmont engineering intern, Robert Huff, also lent a hand at the very end. A few 3D-printed black tires and a whole lot of sawdust completed the scene, and the designers gathered to celebrate!

Finally, the completed model was transported to Lower Campus, and descriptive labels were attached so as to describe some of the features to passers-by. Mr. Knoles proudly placed the entire scene with some CAD images right by the front door of the office, and it only took a few moments for a small crowd to gather and start asking questions!

Bottom line: the project is alive and well, and please stop by the Lower Campus to view the completed scene. We have another grant in the works, and already have some parents who have offered to help with donations and construction (commencing in May and continuing through the summer), but please reach out and contact Mr. Knoles (mknoles@providencesb.org) or Mr. Meadth (rmeadth@providencesb.org) if you would like to offer skilled help/resources, or know someone who can.
And don’t forget to cheer on our engineering students when you see them!

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