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.

Visual Evaluation- Coding Game

The purpose of the Coding Design Project was to create an educational game for a client which in my case, was a 4th grade student and through the process, learn how to plan and successfully make a game by coding through scratch. I decided to create a spelling game where the player has to listen to the audio of the word and type the word correctly. The words that the students will be tested on are commonly misspelled words. I chose to select this plan as the client wanted a game that would help the students learn fourth grade spelling words. I chose to put the audio as not only will the students learn to spell misspelled words accurately, they will also improve on listening skills. The visual will also guide them to the correct answer. I chose to put the incorrect word count as it will make the students competitive as they might compare their scores with other students and try to do their best to get a good score.


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My game met most of the design specifications; high quality pictures, interesting background, point count, several levels and appropriate level of difficulty. The images were not blurry and were of right size, providing a hint as to what the word is if the audio is not clear, thus meeting the “high quality pictures” specification. One of the comments in the feedback I received was that “the layout of the game could be made more colorful” in which I can improve by adding more coloful pictures or change the background to a more appealing, bright background instead of a background with the landscape of white slopes, blue sky and the sun which is quite simple. Therefore, I don’t think I met the specification “interesting background”. The third design specification which my game met was “Point Count”. My game had an “Incorrect Words” column that helped the player review the words they misspelled and know how many words they spelt incorrectly.

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I did not create several levels due to the shortage of time and also I did not feel the need to do so as there were 17 words which I think is an appropriate number of words for 4th graders. I was not able to get feedback from elementary students about the level of difficulty due to their schedule but a student in my class commented that “if the target is younger, elementary kids, some words might be too hard for them”. Next time, I would definitely like to get direct feedback from elementary students & teachers.

Overall, I think my game was very successful. I got positive feedback;

“It’s a really good game and it was fun playing it. Also I couldn’t find any bugs.”

“This was a very good game. No problems, really, it worked very well. ”

“This is a good game, and you can learn things from it well.”

“It’s a very good game based on listen and spell. The Incorrect words system worked very well. I found no problems playing the game”

“Hi! I think your game is very high quality, and is very educational. I loved the system that reviews the misspelled words, and it made me learn too!”

and with an educational component to the game, I think it was helpful and entertaining for students. By doing this task, it enabled us to use the knowledge we gained through researching and use it to be creative and make our very own game. Learning through games is very effective as it is enjoyable and engaging and encourages students to try their best and do well.

Click here to play the game!

Taylor Swift Mash Up Evaluation

For the Honor the Creator unit, I made a mashup video of Taylor Swift songs and added her music videos for the visuals. Through making a music video, I demonstrated my knowledge of following fair use rights and creating a high quality video at the same time.

My design specifications were:

Design Specification Testing Results
Good transition betweens songs I put a fade in/ out effect in between songs and therefore, the transition between the songs was not abrupt
Video follows fair use rights Use 10% or less of music videos It did not get ripped off youtube and I made sure I did not use more than 10% of the music videos.
High quality music/ audio The video should not be pixelated or blurry. The audio should sound like the original song and not be in a different pitch etc. The quality of the audio was quite good and the video was not that pixelated.
Attribution of sources The videos/ audio I used in the video should be put in the credits in the video. I made sure I gave appropriate credit to the creator and put the credits at the end of the video.

I received feedback from students, adults and teachers and I was thrilled to know that most of them thought my video looked professional and it showed excellent technical skills. I think the video was engaging and interesting as the viewers marked it either 4 or 5 out of 5. I think I also did well on following the elements of design (contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity) as the viewers graded it either excellent or competent.

What I did well based on the viewers’ feedback was the arrangement and choice of the songs. “I love that is has the best parts of the song and I know that you spent a lot of time and effort making it perfect and it definitely was worth it! What makes the video special is that the audio is not just a block of the song, it is consisted of different parts and adjusted very carefully so the tune is flowing. ” I also did well on transitions between the videos. I put a fade in/ out effect in between songs and therefore, the transition between the songs was not abrupt.

Next time, I would like to make sure the movement of the mouth of the singer corresponds to the lyrics. This was quite difficult as some songs did not have a music video and I had to take a different video and adjust the timing very carefully so it does not look bizarre.

Personally, I think the most challenging part of the process of creating the video was making sure that the audience can pretty much capture the whole piece by listening to only 10% of the video. I had to assemble different parts of the audio. Also for the visuals, I took different parts of the music video and made sure the movement of the actions in the video were matching the audio.

Overall, I think this project impacted me well as I learned to be persistent. During the process of creation, I sometimes got frustrated as the timing of the visuals had to be very accurate in order to match the beat of the song. Also, there were sometimes technical problems/ glitches and I had to be patient. However, I think it was definitely worth it and the time and effort I put in payed off.

I think the audience enjoyed it and as some people don’t really listen to a wide variety of songs and only listen to a certain type of genre, I think they were able to listen to different types of songs and it impacted them well. By creating this video, I think it will impact the original creators of the media well, as more people will know more about them and appreciate their music/ media.

Chocolate Fair Reflection

What did you do well?

Overall, I think I did well throughout the process of making and selling the chocolates in order to raise money for the education of the Thai Kids. My chocolates met the design specifications which were having a good appearance, having a good taste, not falling apart, and having an appropriate price. All of my chocolates sold out in 30 minutes and it was a success.

What could you improve on?  What would you do differently if you could do this project again?

Next time if I were to participate in the chocolate fair again, I will produce more chocolates as my chocolates sold out in 30 minutes and a few people were disappointed to see that my chocolates were sold out already as they were thinking of buying them later. Before the chocolate fair, I thought 12 packs were enough but it proved to be wrong. I am capable of making more chocolates as the production cost of the chocolates was not that expensive. Also, it might cost a little more but I would definitely like to raise more money in order to send more students to school.

How many chocolates did you sell? How much money did you donate to Thai Kids?

By completely selling 24 chocolates (12 packs), I raised 1900 yen and I donated all of the money.

Did this product impact you?  How did it impact our community?  How did it impact the Thai Kid Foundation?  Explain.

This unit greatly impacted me as I learnt that working efficiently was very important. As we had a limited amount of time to work on the chocolates, I had to plan everything out carefully. and think about how much time each task takes. I was also careful about keeping up with my plan, in order to make sure I do not run out of time. It also raised awareness of the children in Thailand who are not able to go to school due to financial problems. We were able to raise more than ¥135,000 in all which is an astonishing amount and overall, I think it was a big success.

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Advertisement for my chocolate

Advertisement for my chocolate

Inquiring and Analyzing Chocolate

In our next design unit, we will be creating a product/ s that is made of chocolate and possibly other ingredients. Other subjects will be integrated with this unit, including math, humanities and science. All profit we gain by the sales will be donated to the Thai Childrens’ Fund Scholarships. As part of our analysis of chocolate, we have to analyze at least 3 pieces of chocolate-related snacks. I chose four snacks which were Chocolate Popcorn, Chocolate potato chips, Chocolate Pocky and Snickers. Below is my analysis of the chocolates.

Chocolate Popcorn 


Inside a cup-shaped container with a flap that makes it easy to open, there are bite-size treats with sweet chocolate coating. As soon as you open the flap, you can’t resist the temptation to pop several in your mouth. Brown chocolate covers the popcorns and a bit of syrup is added to enhance the sweetness and the delicious smell.. As there are approximately 60 pieces, one piece is about 2 yen.  For 138 yen, it was quite tasty and I enjoyed it.

Chocolate Potato Chips


Inside an alluminum package with a very appetizing picture of the chips, salty chips with chocolate topping are waiting to be eaten. As soon as it touches your tongue, it tastes like salty chips but the aftertaste is indiscribable. The contrast of the saltiness and sweetiness makes the chips absolutely delicious. The chips fit perfectly in your mouth and it is very yummy. With a cheap price of 141 yen ( 1 piece- approx. 2 yen), it is good for a quick snack.



It is a dream-come-true for a sweet tooth. It comes in a small package and the gooey texture is totally addictive. Inside the chocolate coating, there is a block of super-sweet and sticky caramel with nuts and peanut butter inside. One bite, and you cannot stop until you eat the whole bar! It is so good and it makes you really hyper! It is 123 yen and it is good for boosting your energy!

Chocolate Pocky


This snack is more for adults. Coated with dark chocolate which is faintly bitter, it is perfect for chocolate-lovers. With the record of the thinnest pocky, it is scrumptious and the smell of chocolate is wonderful. It is 154 yen (1 piece- 3 yen) and the snap you hear when you bite on it is very tempting.

Design Upcycling Project Evaluation

For my design upcycling project, I created a jewellery box.

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Did my product meet the design specifications? Explain.

My product clearly meets the design specifications, as it is made from upcycled materials. I used a spare, wooden box that was not used and beads and decorations that were left in my drawer. Also, it is very useful as I wanted a stylish container to keep loose stuff in. For example, it will help my room be more organized as I can keep things in the box and it will prevent me from losing things as I know where I put my things. It is also durable as it does not fall apart and break easily. Another design specification was that it should be neat and presentable. I think I succeeded in that as I compared my product with the picture online and I also put great detail in decorating and making it pretty. I also considered the size and my watch and necklace was able to easily fit. It also has more space so I can put other accessories.

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I asked two of my friends and I concluded that it was neatly painted and well- balanced. Also, they said that they can imagine my product being sold at a small shop which I was happy to hear. My mother also said that it was so pretty that she wanted it to put in her room and use it for herself! (Maybe I can give it to her for birthday present 🙂 )

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Was my final product of good quality? Explain why or why not.

I think my final product was of reasonable quality as it met the design specifications and it was how I imagined it would be like. However, during the process of making it, I found out that grout would not work with the beads I used so I changed my plan. Overall, I think my product was well- made.


What new skills did I learn? What do I want to learn more about?

Painting neatly was one of the skills that I learnt. Although smoothing out the surface to make sure there were no bumps was challenging, I think I did pretty well as my friends commented that the painted surface looked nice. Next, I would like to learn how to use grout to create my button bowl.


If I could do this project project again, what would I do differently?

If I had a chance to make my project again, I would use a curved bowl so I can put the buttons and the grout on easily.

How did this project impact me? Did it impact anyone else or the environment?

I think this product greatly impacted myself and the environment, as owing to the jewellery box, I now have a box that I can keep loose stuff in, so I don’t loose stuff easily. Also, I think it impacted the environment as I prevented the waste of unused materials.


Culture Night

On Thursday, it was Culture Night and it was a very exciting event! It took an incredible amount of time and effort to prepare for it so it was a little tiring. However, it was very enjoyable as it felt good to present all the work we did. For math, Gry and I made a presentation powerpoint in which we combined the information for the four groups Government, Religion, Art & Architecture and Commerce & Leisure. Owing to Mr. Okada, who managed the slides, I was able to successfully present and give the speech. Thank you so much Mr. Okada!!!!

Click here to see the powerpoint we made!

Click here to see the script of my speech!

Click here to see the video of me presenting

My group which was G0vernment had to come up with the number and time systems of Charamba. In order to do so, we had to be very creative and also be thoughtful of how realistic the ideas were. In order to be able to discuss about possible ideas and to do our work quickly, we discussed on a document outside school and although it took a lot of time and effort to complete all the work, we felt extremely proud of ourselves when we finished it.

Math Speech at Culture Night

Math Speech at Culture Night

In order to explain the number and time systems well with visuals, I made posters about how the number system and the time system worked in Charamba. The pictures below are the pictures of the posters I made.

Charambian Number System Poster

Charambian Number System Poster

Charambian Time System Poster

Charambian Time System Poster

In P.E., we created our own original dance and although sometimes creating moves and memorizing all of the moves was challenging, we practiced a lot and we were able to dance confidently at Culture Night. It was very enjoyable and I would like to thank Mr. Wilson and Ms. Ayumi for helping us during the process. Also, thank you Ms. Nishizawa for helping us during the face-painting and Ms. Sugiyama for taking the videos for the skits.

Dancing at Culture Night!

Dancing at Culture Night!

Click here to see us dancing!

In English, we created our own Charambian myths that were related to our topic. For example, I was in the Government group and therefore I wrote about why there are six leaders for each district. Creating the myth was very enjoyable and owing to Mr. Smailes and his detailed check of my story, I was able to create a good myth. Below is the link to the myth I wrote. I hope you enjoy it!

At Culture Night, we also held a Reader’s Theatre and we presented a myth. It was really exciting and I really enjoyed telling the myth.

Reader's Theatre at Culture Night

Reader’s Theatre at Culture Night

For science, we learnt how constellations and the night sky were associated with different cultures and learnt how people from all around the world viewed the beautiful night sky. Learning about the constellations and looking at the Planetarium was very fascinating and I had a lot of fun. Also, I really enjoyed looking at the colourful lights that Mr. Vest let us see as a treat. My table group made a poster about “Pisces”, a constellation that was important to the Charambian tribe.

Pisces Poster

Pisces Poster

In Humanities, we created the Charambian culture from scratch and although sometimes it was challenging as we had to be creative and create our own, unique culture, it was very, very enjoyable and it was extremely exciting to be able to present our own indigenous culture at Culture Night. Also, researching about what cultures did in the past was very interesting.

Click here to read my “The Government of Ancient Times” essay!

Below is the picture of the poster I made.

The Government of Ancient Times Poster

The Government of Ancient Times Poster

In Design, we made an artifact that was related to our topic. As I was in the Government group, I made a box called “Chakampa” that was used to determine which leader was responsibe for which village’s finance etc.

My Design Project!

My Design Project!

Owing to Mr. Mayhew and Mrs. Smailes’ guidance, I was able to make a well-made project and poster and also write a good research paper. Also as Mr. Mayhew gave us lots of useful tips when giving speeches and practiced a lot, it really payed off and I was able to confidently speak.

Again, I would like to thank Mr. Okada, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Ayumi, Ms. Nishizawa, Mrs. Smailes, Ms. Sugiyama, Mr. Smailes, Mr. Vest and finally, Mr. Mayhew for organizing the whole event and other members who helped with the stage light. Thank you!!!!

PSA Poster

For our design project, we made a PSA (Public Service Announcement) poster. We had to focus on the basic principles of design- Alignment, Contrast and Repetition. The PSA poster was about encouraging positive behaviour in the local community.

The poster had to be an attractive, graphically pleasing poster remembering that giving credit for any artwork or image which is not ours is very important. Also, it had to contain a strong, focused message. I had to carry an impact on the readers and at the same time, be short and easy to understand. Lastly it had to be effective in a Japanese environment because most members of the community do not speak English.

Below is the PSA poster I made:

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I think my PSA poster will be effective in the community as it is short and clear with pictures that support my message. In order to improve my PSA poster, I think I should make my poster stand out more so it is recognisable anywhere. Although it was challenging to include all of the elements in my artwork, I think it was very enjoyable being creative and  thinking of ways to encourage CA students to act appropriately in the community.