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Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 3 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Moon Golf (2019)Tatian GreenleafComment

Today was another day of build, build, build with a good dose of design, design, design thrown in. We’re still figuring out the best way to launch a golf ball onto the moon. Is a lever a useful mechanism? What about a rubber band slingshot? Or a pinball-style method? We learn through testing and we did quite a bit of that today. Can the lunar lander platform hold enough weight? Does it wobble? How can we strengthen the things we build?

How high should a moonscape mini golf hill be? Should we have a separate platform beside the hill so that players have varied experiences and can employ strategy?

A hinge allows the lever to swing quickly and strike the golf ball inside the tube.

A hinge allows the lever to swing quickly and strike the golf ball inside the tube.

What height and angle does the tube need to be at to propel the ball far enough?

What height and angle does the tube need to be at to propel the ball far enough?

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Adding a triangular brace to the lunar lander from underneath.

Adding a triangular brace to the lunar lander from underneath.

Attaching the lunar lander feet to add stability but also aesthetic value.

Attaching the lunar lander feet to add stability but also aesthetic value.

After the ramp and the bumpy platform were finished and side rails were added, a team began work on constructing the hill. This was quite difficult as it required several angled pieces as well as angled supports.

After the ramp and the bumpy platform were finished and side rails were added, a team began work on constructing the hill. This was quite difficult as it required several angled pieces as well as angled supports.

Many of our connections for the lunar lander and the golf course consisted of angled parts. So the screws we put in were either added to slanted pieces of wood or needed to be pocket screws. One technique some of our tinkerers practiced today was drilling a starter hole perpendicular to the wood and then angling the drill and drilling a straight pilot hole using the starter hole as a guide:

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In the morning during our opening circle, David taught a lesson on how to correctly measure wood. Being the creative teacher that he is, he made giant props for the demo — a tape measure and a speed square. And he used our blue benches to stand in as 2x3 wooden blocks. Then, he demonstrated with our actual tools and wood to connect those ideas tangibly.

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After lunch, Jayson demonstrated good techniques for reinforcing structures. Particularly, he covered the difference between sheer strength (i.e. depending on screws to hold weight) — we tell kids that “screws are not magical” — and compression strength (i.e. depending on vertical pieces of wood to hold weight).

If one screw allows two pieces of wood to twist and two screws hold two pieces of wood together without twisting, how many screws are ideal? 3? 4? 7? 50? Jayson explained that adding more screws can weaken the wood because it separates the wood fibers.

If one screw allows two pieces of wood to twist and two screws hold two pieces of wood together without twisting, how many screws are ideal? 3? 4? 7? 50? Jayson explained that adding more screws can weaken the wood because it separates the wood fibers.

Jayson was able to support his full weight on several pieces of wood braced in a triangle.

Jayson was able to support his full weight on several pieces of wood braced in a triangle.

At closing circle, we asked for examples of how tinkerers had tried harder than usual today (one of our goals for the week). One way we’re doing so is to learn to use new tools.

A jig saw can be used to make straight or curved lines in plywood.

A jig saw can be used to make straight or curved lines in plywood.

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The day isn’t complete without crossing off a few more items from our design and build checklists.

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from our day. And visit our Flickr page for many more photos from throughout the week.

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