Tinkering School

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Vending Fake Candy

Vend It! (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

Friday was project release, and we pitched an exciting, and also intimidating idea: A vending machine. During most of the session, we designed, brainstormed, and shared ideas.

We ended up with a lot of questions, and not many answers: 

  • What will our machine vend? ..candy? ...soda? ...woodshop materials?
  • How big is it?
  • It is wood or metal? Or glass?
  • How many different "products" will the machine offer?
  • Does it take real coins? Fake coins? Dollar bills? ...is it high-five activated?
  • How will we retrieve the money?
  • How will we restock the machine?
  • Will it be theft-proof?
  • More importantly, has anyone actually seen the inside of a real vending machine?
  • How does a real one even work?

Everyone had a very different idea of how the machine's internal mechanisms worked: levers, pulleys, springs, electronics, buttons, glass doors, twisty knobs.

The discussion went on! And on!

After exploring, re-exploring, re-re-exploring, and also re-re-re-exploring our options on paper and through discussion, it was definitely time to try something out with tools and materials. Fortunately, Nathan and I anticipated this brainstorming roadblock and offered up a quick solution; before the session, we cut up stacks of equally sized wood blocks -- fake candy bars -- and challenged the team.

Simply: Let's try to vend some fake candy.

Here are 8 pieces of wood. Put your theories to practice, and vend these 8 pieces. If we can make a device that can successfully dispense only 8 items of the same shape and size, then it could also vend 10, 20, or 100. And if this device can work for one shape, could we also adapt it to another shape?

The challenge continues next session!

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