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Exploring Different Designs and Working Together

Vend It! (Spring 2015)Nathan SavoyComment

Following a short group meeting Friday afternoon to establish some goals we broke into teams to work on the vending machine's mechanics. The group had crafted two very different designs to dispense our pre-cut candy bars. One team tackled a bolt action design while the other explored a pulley controlled lever arm. 

As the kids saw their designs taking shape everyone was so excited to use the tools to complete the next step of assemble that both ran into multiple bottle necks. A classic example of, "too many cooks in the kitchen." As collaborators we encourage tinkers to take a "divide and conquer approach" to workload when building in teams but sometimes it can be challenging to set aside our desire for individual recognition. As the afternoon continued Amanda and I tried to discourage this individualistic view by correcting for vocabulary regarding the project work such as: "I, me, mine" with "we, us, our".  I think that beyond the actual designs this was the greatest challenge for most of us today.

When we circled up at the end of the day everyone felt proud about the prototype progress even though both designs still had kinks to work out. The bolt action design was successful in dispensing the first candy bar but the stack would get jammed for subsequent tries. The alternate pulley operated lever arm design would release all the candy bars at once. With only moments before the end of the day we asked where we should continue the follow session. 

When one fearless voice said we should combining the elements of each design that worked to construct a new prototype, the suggestion received unanimous support. This spurred a dialogue where the works became the mutual property of everyone involved. We didn't prefect any vending machine prototypes this session but I believe everyone walked away with something really important.

Now, with teamwork in our tool-belts I can't wait to see what we'll accomplish!


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