STEAM Reflection

 

The major reason behind my final decision of taking STEAM class instead of VHS was because I knew I preferred a physical face-to-face teacher rather than a virtual one. This way, I could directly ask questions I have and immediately clear up any confusing parts. With other students around me and the teacher, I would better understand what the class expectations are and wether I am falling behind or not. I also figured that if I took an online course, I might feel it as a ‘separate class’ from my normal courses and either regard it with more stress or none. I thought that I wouldn’t be as straightforward and explicit with an online teacher. In addition, if I get a grade that I have questions of, I can promptly find the face-to-face teacher and find a time to talk about it and I would understand the teacher’s reason and expectation better; but if it is an online teacher, the time for meeting could constantly be delayed and you could have no idea what the teacher actually expected from you.

With these reasons, I chose STEAM course and have took the course for about 3 weeks so far, and I still think I have made the right choice for me. Even in this short amount of time, we’ve went through presentations, designing processes, research, planning and more. Although we haven’t even started physically creating the music box, I still feel like I’ve gone through the STEAM problem-solving process multiple times as I was planning and preparing. For instance, when we were looking at Thingiverse for deciding our initial design, we had to choose one, try to plan out how it was actually going to work, find that our constraints would keep us from making it work, choose another one, and go over the same process again. And through these processes I not only get better at dealing with challenges, but also learn about technical knowledge and skills. I believe throughout the rest of the course, I will continue to go through these processes and make further development in terms of each element in STEAM.

So far, I think our group — which consists of Chloe, Alisa, and my self — is doing well in collaborating together. We created a WeChat group to communicate with each other even outside of class, and use it as platform to share our ideas and research. One of the strengths we have is that we don’t hesitate in giving even the dullest ideas, so we have a lot to talk about and discuss. When doing group work, we assign ourselves roles so that we don’t waste our time; for example, during the improv presentation we had, we quickly distributed each of our role and worked coherently so that we didn’t waste time doing the same thing. This is why I want to continue working as a group and do the practice of fulfilling my own role to fully contribute to the overall work as a group.

Last class we went to Old Shekou to look over and purchase some materials, and we went with a list of possible things to buy: Hair Comb, wooden plank, and decoration (glitter). We ordered 2 combs on Taobao though, so we were just going to check if there were some that were good for back-ups. At the end of the class, we were successful in only buying the wooden plank, but being the only necessary material so far, we were satisfied with our purchase. However, when we looked into machinery stores, we talked about how we could use nails instead of 3D printed pegs if they didn’t work on the disc. In summary, the only things we need so far is the comb, which is going to come from Taobao, the wooden board, 3D printer, and LEGO mindstorm motors, and we have most of them already, so we are on a pretty sufficient start.

Overall, I think we would be able to create the music box with all the disc, pegs, and motors, but I am not sure if they would make the sound we want. Since we are using 3D printed materials and normal music boxes are metallic, we are not sure if they would make the music when it hits with the comb. This is why we talked about using nails and buying extra combs, because they would have more chances of creating the ringing sound. We also talked about an alternative way when the disc music box completely failed — a scroll music box. This is where we will order a scroll and a handcrank machine, but change the gears into electronic motors so that it spins by itself and make our own music with hole punching the scroll. However, our teacher had stated then this would mean we are skipping some steps that other teams would be doing, so we are trying to keep this alternative way away as much as possible.

Our group is mostly relying on online sources such as youtube videos and websites to learn how to program our music box. But we found that although there are a lot of videos describing how to make your own music using an ordered music box kit, there are not a lot of videos explaining how to set up a music box from the beginning. This is one of our challenges, but we are trying to overcoming it by deepening our research.

       These are pictures of the wooden plank we bought and the store we bought it.

 This is a picture of our original Old-Shekou-buying list.