Keen Machines IDU Unit Reflection

For our Keen Machines Project, we made a plant waterer for Mr. Lemley as he was in need of a plant waterer during the vacations. The purpose of our machine was to water plants in the library when the school is closed and Mr. Lemley is not there. The mechanism of the machine was based on the Shishi odoshi and our machine used a first class lever. 

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Idea No. Person or Group Location Task Solution
1 Mr. Lemley Library Water Plant Plant Waterer
2 Soccer Managers In front of storage place Make moving the cart easier Slope
3 All people Door next to doctor’s office Open door Swipe Card
4 All people Cafeteria Make it easier for people to move/ fold tables Better wheel/ hinges

We brainstormed several potential ideas but we decided to make the plant waterer as unlike ideas 3 and 4, we had a specific client; Mr. Lemley and he was in need of a plant waterer during the vacations and suggested the idea. He was an ideal client as we could easily contact him and discuss details with him. We chose to do the plant waterer instead of the slope as despite the plant waterer having a bit more complex mechanism than the slope, we had a clear idea as to how the machine would work and the simple machine we were going to use. Also, we knew for sure that we would be able to calculate the Actual/ Ideal Mechanical Advantage, Input/ Output Work, Efficiency as the machine used a first class lever. The plant waterer also used affordable materials and did not require carpenting skills that were beyond our/ Mr. Mayhew’s ability.

How did you develop a relationship with your client? *

We contacted our client through e-mailing and physically talking with him regularly.

Below are the details of dates of contact, topic discussed etc.

Date of contact Topic discussed Evidence of Contact
Jan 19, 2016 We went around the school to find possible problems for our project and when we went to the library, we found Mr. Lemley. He said that he was in need of a plant waterer and we decided that it was a good idea. No physical evidence but you can ask Mr. Lemley.
Jan 22, 2016 We went in search of Mr. Lemley but he was not there so we sent him an e-mail to ask him if he could meet us next class.  Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 6.02.39 PM
Jan 26, 2016 We talked with Mr. Lemley about what the specifications were and the details; Location that the machine would be put and the approximate size of the machine etc.. He said that since the machine will be used during the vacations, the appearance of the machine would not matter much. No physical evidence but you can ask Mr. Lemley.
February 24th 2016 We e-mailed Mr. Lemley about our idea of using the mechanism of the shishi-odoshi. He said that it was attractive and the system looked very functional.
He had a few questions about the machine so we invited him to come down to the DT lab and discuss with us.
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February 25th 2016 He could not come today so we decided to invite him next class (Tuesday).  Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 6.06.21 PM
February 29th 2016 We invited him to come on Tuesday and he agreed.  Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 6.07.10 PM
February 30th 2016 He came to see our completed machine and he said it looked very good and he loved it. He said he will be in the library when we do the keen machines presentation. 5610d82a-de6a-4cac-a509-791e780b9301
March 9th 2016 Mr. Lemley looked at the machine in action at the Keen Machines Event and he gave us feedback later on.



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Explain how you designed your solution. *

The mechanism of the machine was based on the Shishi Odoshi and our machine used a first class lever. We used wood for the base and side supporters and back stopper, and used bamboo for the lever and fulcrum.

Below is how the machine works:

  1. Put the amount of water the plant needs for the number of days the client is gone, inside the bucket.
  2. Put the plant under where the water will come out.
  3. One of the two openings in the air control valve should be closed so as not to leak the water. The open valve should be fitted into the water irrigation pipe.
  4. Place the water irrigation pipe on top of the receiving opening of the bamboo lever so the water will drip from the pipe.
  5. To start the watering, loosen the valve so the water will start dripping.
  6. When the water accumulates inside the bamboo lever and crosses the point where the fulcrum is, the lever will tilt enough so as to pour the accumulated water onto the plant.

The amount of water flow from the pipe onto the receiving opening of the bamboo lever can be adjusted by turning the valve.

  • Explain how your learning in the sciences and design complemented each other. *

By learning the physics and science behind the mechanism of machines, it enabled us to form an idea of how we could use simple machines to build machine that could solve our client’s problem; watering the plant when he was on vacation, in design.

Explain the new things you learned about the subjects while carrying out the project. *

I definitely learned more about the physics and science behind the mechanism of machines and how machines can make work easier for the client and do something that could not have been done otherwise.

Project Question: How did you use empathy and your understanding of mechanics (science) and ergonomics (design) to help create a solution to an authentic problem? *

By incorporating our understanding of physics and science behind simple machines and our woodworking and carpentry skills, we were able to successfully make a plant waterer for Mr. Lemley, our client.

Identify which three (3) Approaches to Learning skills you developed and practiced through this project. *

  • Communication
  • Reflective Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Explain how you developed some of these ATL skills. *
Through the process of creating the machine with my team mates; Yu & Hiroki, I learnt to be a better communicator so as not to create misunderstandings between team members, possibly leading to conflict inside the group, which was the last thing I wanted. I think I also developed my self-management skills as although it was pretty tight towards the end, we were successful as we were responsible and worked hard to plan and manage our time wisely in order to finish the project in time.
Discuss why it is important to carry out tasks that connect our learning across subjects. *
I think one of the benefits of having interdisciplinary units is that we can take time and get a deeper and more thorough understanding of the topic we are working on and look at the different aspects of the same topic. For example, not only did we look at simple machines from a science perspective, investigating the science behind the machine including IMA, IMA, work etc., we looked at the physical mechanism of the machine and built the machine ourselves using our woodworking skills in design.
Suggest future projects or ideas that you might like to develop, connecting your subjects, with a reason. *
If I were to do another IDU project in the future, I would like to connect Humanities and English as I would like to investigate how history had an effect on literature.
This is a video of the machine in action.
Below is the feedback we got from our client. 
I think the Plant Waterer showed thought and creativity.  The use of an adjustable valve to control the flow of the water provided clear evidence of problem solving.  The final product was also very attractive; the use of bamboo was a really nice touch.  The product functioned but lacked the ability to be adjusted for different size plants.  This is a necessary feature as the library plants come on different sizes.

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