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September 6, 2023

Connecting the Dots: Materials and Assembly – Aanya Arora, BArch 24

by Aanya Arora

Sunday 20th August 2023

Connecting the Dots: Materials and Assembly

The exciting journey towards finalizing the toy design has officially begun! After studying the various components envisioned by children during our last workshop, I embarked on the task of acquiring materials that would facilitate diverse ball motions in our marble run. Among the materials I have procured are PVC pipes, a round pipe, large and small joints, wooden dowels, as well as assorted pieces of wood in varying sizes. These elements form the building blocks of our innovative ball run, and I am eager to see how the children will come together to create a captivating and interactive toy design.

6 Different Mechanisms

With a comprehensive understanding of the available materials and insights from the prototypes crafted by the children in the previous workshop, I conceptualized six distinct mechanisms for guiding the ball through our marble run: a car, a Ferris wheel, a hammer, a thread-based contraption, a lift, and a seesaw. The children were organized into six groups, each tasked with drawing out a design that incorporated one of these mechanisms, followed by group discussions to refine their concepts and select the most promising idea to pursue. And then, the magic began as they delved into the construction process, employing cardboard, dowels, wooden ice-lolly sticks, and various discarded materials to bring their visions to life. The level of creativity and innovation on display was truly remarkable, with some groups devising mechanisms to adjust the ball’s trajectory through string manipulation, while others crafted a dual Ferris wheel with two distinct entry points, showcasing the children’s extraordinary ability to think beyond what the task asked them.

Foundational Structure

During the workshop, a valuable insight emerged: the children required a foundational structure on which to construct their ball runs effectively. In response, I conceived a versatile, disassemblable stand featuring a grid of perforated holes. This design allowed for easy attachment and reconfiguration of various components within the ball run. Collaborating with a local steel product manufacturer, we brainstormed ways to optimize the design, reducing material usage and overall costs while ensuring its disassemblability. Our solution was a single-sheet central structure that could be utilized from both sides, enabling two separate groups of children to simultaneously build their ball runs, ultimately fostering friendly competition as they vied to create the longest and most imaginative designs.

Measure, Cut, and Sand

The next phase of our ball run adventure saw us diving headfirst into the creation of the permanent ball run! I introduced the children to the world of PVC pipes and posed the question of how to cut them to allow visibility of the ball while crafting those thrilling zig-zag paths, a recurring feature in their marble run prototypes. The room buzzed with anticipation as I guided them through the process: measure, cut, and sand! There was palpable excitement as I demonstrated the use of a cutting saw to trim the PVC pipes into smaller sections and then meticulously smooth the edges with sandpaper. To address the challenge of connecting two pipes at a corner while maintaining ball visibility, we collectively decided on a clever solution: slicing a pipe horizontally and leaving two inches of the full pipe on one side, ensuring it could be securely affixed into a connector piece.

Peg Design Testing

As we delved into the design of pegs for affixing various mechanisms to the perforated board, a collaborative brainstorming session ensued. Our initial approach involved crafting 3-inch-long wooden dowels, designed to fit snugly into the board by carefully chiseling them down to a size just slightly smaller than the hole width. We tested this configuration with four pieces to support a pipe, but it lacked the necessary lateral stability to keep the pipe securely in place. Subsequently, we explored the addition of smaller vertical pieces at the ends of the dowels to enhance support, yet this approach occasionally resulted in unwanted rotation. Another avenue we explored was metal pegs, commonly used in commercial stores for hanging products on shelves. However, the sizes we tested proved either too small or significantly larger than the pipe’s width. Currently, our quest is focused on sourcing pegs with dimensions that are just right for our unique needs.

Assemblage Iteration

I split the students into two groups, each focused on distinct aspects of our marble run project. While one group diligently constructed various components, the other group embarked on testing different assembly methods. For the time being, we opted for the simplicity of tape to connect the different mechanisms to the stand, facilitating swift experimentation. As I observed their progress, it became evident that employing standardized pieces streamlined the construction process, enabling them to build intricate runs with remarkable speed. This dynamic exploration also led to insights into how the ball’s velocity could vary at different stages of the run. Moreover, they quickly discovered ways to maximize their available resources by introducing breaks in the path, relying on the ball’s own momentum to bridge these gaps. The children’s enthusiasm soared as they contemplated the prospect of two distinct entry points for the ball, igniting a spirited race to determine which route would allow the ball to reach the end first.

Plastic Crocheting Prototype
Crochet Manual Sketches

Upcycling Workshop

In a recent meeting with the Voice of Waste team, I introduced the concept of a plastic crocheting workshop, and I was delighted to find that they were receptive to the idea. They appreciated how this skill could empower participants to craft a diverse range of products while demanding minimal equipment. As a result, they have tasked me with creating a comprehensive workshop manual that provides a step-by-step guide to the crocheting process. In designing this manual, I’ve been exploring ways to convey the intricacies of crocheting through visual graphics, aiming to minimize reliance on textual instructions since several of the women involved may not be proficient in either Hindi or English.

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