Last Tuesday, we left the sessions with a couple very important lessons concerning the ball run project: our original track prototype was a little too wide to balance the ball, and our original ball was too heavy (+dangerous) to start from the height that the Tinkerers proposed.
So this week, we started the session with a few simple objectives: take the prototype apart, make it better, and make a second one, and then, start work on our master plan/design.
With the "take it apart" objective quickly completed, the "make it better" objective took up most of the session. We built and tested, and re-built and re-tested.
With patience and impressive persistence, we learned quite a few things that will make building this project successful and more efficient. The straight-away tracks can be built with only four pieces. The two tracks need to be connected with 10 inch ties to assure that the ball can balance on the tracks. Because we are now using a lighter ball, we no longer need guard walls on the track
The time we put in today will make it so we can build more tracks, faster, and have time to add some decorative and mechanical surprises along the way.
While the track team perfected their iterations, another group of Tinkerers worked on the master plan -- which, of course, included a proposal to start the ball run on top of the chop saw room. Measurements were necessary to perfect the design proposal, which includes a couple of zig-zags through the shop.
Halfway through the session, both groups came together, pitched their designs and shared their progress. The design team's zig-zag proposal presented a new challenge to the team working on the track -- how are we going to make the ball turn?
The session ended with talks and speculations about a 90 degree turn. Next week, we test!