This was an exciting and challenging two days workshop. Making the cranes proved difficult for many children as many had very little experience with measuring and cutting wood. Conversely, however, the main point of STEAM Powered Education is to get stuck in to learning ‘hands on’ skills which requires getting stuck in even if you are not sure how to proceed.
Still, with some demonstrations and trial and error plus a bit of determination, the children all managed to produce a stabilised tower, rotating centre-point and boom.
Some went a bit further with secured guide pulleys, the motor and cog mechanisms for the winch to life or lower an object and the decorative lights around the tower or boom. All the children were given batteries, battery packs, wires and a motor to see if they could make it work at home. If the workshop had been three days, I think we would all have a working winch to complete the crane.
This workshop required a lot of research as this was the first time I had attempted a two day workshop with so many things that could possibly go wrong.
Building of cranes is a lot more difficult than I had, at first, enthusiastically imagined.
Firstly, there is the stabilisation of a tower. This required a strong base and cradle. The base needed to be a wide square so that it was able to effectively support the tower. The cradle need to be secured at two points to stop the sideways movement effectively.
Secondly, rotating a crane needs a strong, but easily sliding, rotation centre-point. This required layers of card and a wooden box construction. A piece of dowel through the middle held in two places and as vertical as possible was needed in order to effectively control movement of the boom.
Additionally, there was the need to balance the boom so that it doesn’t topple backwards or forwards.
Thirdly, once all the batteries, motor and cog mechanisms for the winch were in place, new balance testing was necessary.
A demonstration crane kit was needed so Knex has an excellent crane that shows all the essential moving parts (featured below)