Brandon Steam Reflection #1

The start of a new semester, the start of another gruelling class. In this case, Steam. We were first introduced to a video made by OkGo which was a music video themed on a Rube Goldberg contraption that sets off many other self-moving contraptions. My personal feelings for this project is that its really lagging behind but with our current rate of work, we should catch up with the rest of the class and soon start working on our actual video design.

What process have you gone through to produce the work you’ve done so far?
First of all, we were penned up into groups then the project was tossed at us. For a fair bit of the next few days given we brainstormed contraptions and sequences to add to the overall filmed sequence then after a few ideas we barreled straight into building the prototype which was A: too big and B: the finale so after wasting two weeks on that one malfunctioning thing we had to restart from the top. Which mechanism should start the thing? What can we add? This will only take 2 seconds what else can we do about it? These are just some examples of the questions we repeatedly asked while working on the project. Now we are past that and building a mini prototype but we still have lots to work on for what we built so far would only amount to 30 seconds tops thinking positively.

What resources have you used while working on your final design?
So far, as for the physical aspect of the first stage, we’ve only used the materials provided in class such as tin foil, tape, strings, small wooden sticks, lots of hot glue gun usage, and a ton of cardboard cut by exactor knives and scissors. We also found a bucket of marbles that we used to test our live prototype and paper clips to hold things together while it was hot with molten glue from the glue gun. We’ve also used a saw to finely cut a thicker piece of wood for a sturdier frame in a prototype.
For the research aspect of resources, nosedived with all of our hearts into youtube and after watching the first video by OkGo, the other two in my group wanted messy things to explode. I’ve also referred to Pinterest for they have some pretty interesting ideas and attacked our recent past memories which came up with archery. Although this was a great idea, with so many safety hazards I was reluctant but we are responsible human beings, right? We’ve visited random websites some point in our research phase but none of the ideas implied anything new to us for we’ve already thought of domino effect and bouncing a ball before even referring to the net.

Which ones were especially helpful?
Youtube and our past were the best resources we had in our reach for which child hasn’t tried to experiment or play with simple toys made by ingenious marketers before? We’ve drawn out the fact that our families are essentially oil and gas or human resources partners so we should be able to access more than the normal group. Physically, for me, the wooden sticks were of great help while creating our structure of the prototype because cardboard bends too easily and the plastic straws which were pretty useful until they bent, started melting after we applied hot glue. Another resource I’ve found indispensable is the extraordinary invention of the hot glue gun which assists us to fasten two objects together. It is so ingenious that even with our real life-sized design, hot glue would be used a ton.

Which ones are you thinking you’ll be using a lot?
As aforementioned, the indispensable hot glue gun and cardboard would be used a ton because cardboard is the main material we have to work with. The hot glue gun because we’d gladly use it to replace the unpleasant and unpredictable stick glue and tape. The most used resource, we’ve come upon would be youtube for there will be a demonstration and how to build it if you have the right video for example catapults and the pulley system was pretty easy to obtain.

A diagram~

How do you feel about the work you’ve done so far?
I feel like we wasted a week on the bigger prototype and in the planning but right now I think we are fairing pretty smoothly besides a few hiccups and bumps along the way. In the group, as we worked, we split the work by doing separate parts so we can accomplish more, quicker. For example, I worked on making a tiny non-working crossbow while the others worked on another small part and once we are done we just add it to the prototype. The problem with this is that we build too fast and the mental planning stage is a little slow. Additionally, sometimes we don’t use the right method to do something like where would be the most optimal space to place this next stage and what to make it to afterwards.

What parts of it do you particularly like? Dislike? Why?
I particularly like the building stage because once I know what to do, I can plug in my earphones, without a reason for anyone to yell or scold me, and just hands on build it. I also like that the other two of my group isn’t the type of people with a strong engineering mindset so they create lots of fun problems to fix. The only thing is that once their mood gets sour its no longer fun. I dislike the fact that hot glue is actually hot glue and can burn your hands as you work because I’ve burnt myself more times than I’d like to count at this point. I also dislike it when the positive work mood was disrupted and made sour because of one silly and preventable mistake.

What do you enjoy about designing a sequence/prototype to music?
So far, we haven’t given much mind to the music and just designed and built the sequence though logical placement and the timing of which when the idea was formulated. We’ve already found the music we want to use in our sequence so after we build the contraption, all that’s required is to sync the whole thing to the beat.

What have you found the most frustrating? What has helped you in overcoming the frustrations?
I found that it was most frustrating when we, the group, receive an idea but all have separate ideas and a different image from the same words. We overcame these situations by talking it out like common people and not stressing out too much. I also find frustrating that the ideas we come up with are so limited and to “overcome” this, we watched satisfying mechanism which we could never build. Another frustrating this about this project is that there is so much time for the little that we have.

A frame~

What have you learned about yourself as a collaborator?
I learned that I’m not very good at explaining anything and that sometimes it takes a few tries before I get it right. But by then, the other person is already fed up with me and asking someone else. This is, however, to be expected. This was the case for anything that I was either am unsure or don’t know about. I also found that I speak a little

too soft so sometimes I’m not heard but to counter that, I speak louder. But when I’m loud, my volume is too high and it sounds like I’m frustrated and almost fifty percent of the time other people get frustrated as well, for the lack of my communication.

What have you learned about yourself as a designer?
I learned that I’m overly realistic and a mechanically based mindset of a designer for we have many ideas that we shot down by me because they weren’t realistic like adding a bow to the contraption. First of all, safety issues, for what if someone gets injured? There are many parts of a bow and the process of using one is already a danger for anything can snap or break because of its fragility. Then, I’m most likely going to be the first one injured because I’m really clumsy when it comes to fine details such as this in a whole bigger picture and second of all, accuracy. It will take many tries to make it go where we want it to go and each time and because it is smack dab kinda in the middle of the whole design, we’ll have to reset the whole thing which is too time-consuming and can be considered a waste of time. However though instead of renting a bow that no one will supply, we can make an automated on where the likelihood of better accuracy and consistency should be much better. I also discovered I have a mechanical engineering mindset for apparently, I’m really straightforward in saying it’s not possible for common sense. For example, it’s not realistically possible to somehow make something be there at a certain time and do a certain precise cation in 2 seconds without wasting a lot of time in the construction of the thing and fine-tuning the angle and such.

What do these things tell you about yourself as a learner?
I learned that I’m really negative and blunt when I want to do something. Negative as in I keep shooting down ideas for we can’t possibly do or hope to accomplish if we spent our time like we did, and blunt as in, I prefer to cut to chase so we don’t waste any more time on the mater. I also learn that As long as I’m interested in the idea, I’ll persistently try to get it right.

Laura & Barbara working on framework~

In what ways does the way you work differ from that of your classmates’ style?
I am different from my group mates and classmates for I like to know what I’m going to do and finish it before I do anything else or until I lose concentration or focus on the task I was working on. This mindset works because our group splits off to accomplish small tasks like making the prototype book dominos and glueing it down right while someone makes the contraption that will start after the all the books fall and etc. However not all of us agree with this and sometimes one or two of us want to work on a small basketball hoop together or plan something out together. This disrupts the concentration on the items we were working on then and we are all gonna start arguing about something that one person could and should’ve done because we trust that the person has good ideas.


In what ways do you work differently?
We work differently in the sense of logical thinking even though our artistic designing and overall creation skills are fairly similar. I, myself, preferably like the idea of getting the whole thing done and made first so that the actual functioning and everything can come second and documentation of it all last but the other two of my group like sticking to the book or the teachers instruction so first as all projects should, we brainstormed then brainstormed more. Then instead of making the prototype, we started diagraming every part of the videoed part and that, to me, is not a good use of time then after that, we started making small parts of the prototype. only to realize that it will only last at tops 20 seconds of the 1-minute video. Then back to brainstorming and sketching diagrams. I would’ve done this differently by first looking into ideas and then straight away building the prototype. Only once we are done with the whole thing, we diagram each contraption or spring and voila! done. Then time to make the actual parts of the actual thing which is what most groups are already doing.

In what ways is your work process similar?
We work really similarly in the case where we are perfectionists. Every part needs to look like the actual thing and semi-works. We are also similar in the sense that we want to be efficient with what we are doing but not really efficient so we lag behind in many cases.

One thing I would like to get better at as we continue the process this semester is…
One thing I’d like to get better in doing at this stage of the process is thatI’d like to learn to be more persistent and patient for my group, like me, who loves to the moment they see a path to their goal, recklessly take it. But the problem with recklessly taking shortcuts and random paths are that not all of them are actually going to work.

One goal that I would like to set myself for the rest of the semester is…
One goal I have for this semester is to develop some of my human characteristics, for example, persistence and patience and lowering my perfectionist expectancy. One goal I have for the near future is to be able to work with my groupmates for sometimes throughout our work time, our sync doesn’t match and thus we don’t really cooperate and this slows down our efficiency in class.

How can you make sure you achieve it?
We can definitely cooperate and sync if we communicate more instead of inferring that the outer group members understand perfectly what you want and such. As for the development of my personal characteristics, I just need to demonstrate them more so that by the end of the semester I am more persistent in the process and more patient so that our understanding doesn’t collide and cause a huge argument that leads to nothing.

Thank you for reading my first reflection and hope you follow us as we journey into the world of:


Engineering Gizmos!

and Impending Obstacles!

#sisrocks #sissteam #OKGo

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