Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sketchy Physics Catapult

Last week I got an email from Geoffrey Winship, a teacher in Toronto, raving about a model created by one of his 13-year old students. I was blown away, and made this video to show what the model does.

You can download this model from the 3D Warehouse by clicking the image below.

To make the catapult work, you need the Sketchy Physics plugin. It's free and can be downloaded here. Once you get the executable file, the plugin should self-install.

Here's what Geoffrey wrote as background:

I just thought I would share another amazing project from one of my students. It is the reason I teach, to be able to watch and share when students learn these remarkable things. I know you are working on something with SketchyPhysics, so I knew you could appreciate this.

As background, I teach Science and Design and Technology in the Toronto District School board and began using SketchUp this year. I gave my grade eight students an assignment of building trebuchets or catapults that would throw small potatoes at bridge models (which were made by my grade seven students). One of the components of the assignment was to produce a set of orthographic and isometric drawings to complement the physical model submission.

Students could use pencil and paper or SketchUp to produce the drawings. A superior submission would make connections or somehow extend the project beyond the original expectations. Here is what my student submitted; a working model, including a hopper to load the balls into the catapult. She included multiple versions with different angles in the catapult for more force or accuracy. She even included text instructions to tell me how to operate it. I am thrilled that she has taken to this medium so naturally and has explored beyond what we have discovered in class.

Her first two languages are Korean and Mandarin, although now she's quite good in English. As for training, it's only what I teach in class and what she's discovered on her own. I introduced SketchUp to my students for the first time this winter, having discovered it myself, just before Christmas. I took some extra time to show her the basics of Sketchy Physics with spheres, blocks, motors, wheels and servos and also some pistons. That probably amounted to about two hours in total, focusing on Sketchy Physics. I also got into the idea of user interface being able to control the speed or strength of the device, but I did not even know the full extent of what the plug-in could do. I don't know how she figured out the keyboard control, but from speaking with her, the ideas for the sphere loader are all her own. She's quite good in all subject areas and she is the recipient of this year's Science award for our school. She was also part of a four-person team that went to the Skills Canada Technology Challenge in Waterloo, Ontario. The team took home a third place medal for Ontario, building a device (using gears, levers, pulleys and wood) that cleared rubble from a model of the shoreline of Japan's earthquake disaster zone.
On a personal note, as a female engineer, I'm so glad this model was created by a girl!

This model has lit a fire under me to get cracking on a Sketchy Physics project book, once I finish the other stuff on my plate (interior design book, updating other books). But it's high on my to-do list!

Anyone can design anything in 3D! http://www.3dvinci.net/

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Eric Schimelpfenig, AKBD said...

THAT is so cool. I wish I had Sketchup when I was that age. I did have Legos though, which were awesome!

cupke said...

thank you dear Bonnie