For a teacher there are few things that are as exciting as seeing one of your students become excited about learning or flush with the sense of achievement. One of my 7th graders (above) was not the keenest Trebuchet builder, but she was giving it an honest effort. She submitted a “trebuchet base” and an “axle” in her Google Drive folder. They weren’t quite printable so I tweaked a couple things and did a few adjustments for scale (a common oversight in you students.)
Then over the weekend I printed like mad to get all my trebuchet products printed on our 3D MakerBot Replicator 2 printer (purchased by the school district.) It takes a lot of time, so I have take to combining several students work into one large file in Sketchup; convert file format to STL (using free Sketchup extension) the open in MakerBot Desktop and print! Largest print took about 9 hours, so I run these overnight. That means on weekends I have long print session: Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night permit me an accumulated print time of 45 hours ( 5 sessions up to 9 hours each).
Of course, it does not always (ever?) go as planned so I don’t get 45 hours of printing. It takes about 1.5-2 hours per accumulated print to compile the files and fix student design mistakes or problems. One of the most common mistakes is too much material. Large, solid surfaces can be thinned or cutouts can be added to reduce material (and time!)
Anyway, in the end it was a treat for me – and the students pictured above – to see that her trebuchet not only worked, but it easily met the standard (throwing a small plastic ball an average distance of more than 3 m over three throws.
Her smile is an understatement, but the gleam in her eye and the smile while she was shooting, clearly said, “I can do it!” – and she did!