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Sorting Marbles

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For the past two months in Principles of Engineering, Zach Fields and Bo St.Clair have been building a machine that has to sort a group of sixteen marbles in to their respective piles. The four different types of marbles that were given to us were glass, wood, nylon, and steel. All of the sorting has to be done in a total of two minutes.

Most projects have an underlying goal to accomplish. In this case, Mr. Claypool said his goal was, Small group work, programming, mechanics, and direct application of the design process.”

 

Bo’s Experience

 

Multiple ways of going about this problem exist. My group, consisting of Eli Lidy, Sam Sutton and myself,  went about the problem a little differently than the other three groups. The glass marble has a larger diameter than the rest of the marbles, so it can be sorted out in the beginning of the machine. My group did not realize this fast enough, so we had to deal with the larger marble throughout the whole machine.

We decided to have a flashlight and light sensor at the beginning of the mechanism that decided whether or not light could pass through the marble. If light could pass through, then the marble was either glass or nylon. If no light got through, then the marble was steel or wood. Then a device would rotate to the left or right depending on if light hit the sensor. After the marble was sorted in either the left or right side, it would enter a “teeter-totter.” Based on the weight of the marbe, it would then either overpower the teeter-totter and fall straight down or slide down.

Overall, I would say that my group was fairly balanced. I have learned that I am not much of a leader when it comes to group projects. If I am told what to do, then I can get what I need to get done in a nice, orderly fashion. One of the main things that I did was keeping our “design journal.” This consisted of every stage of the build process. Eli, on the other hand, was a leader. He would come up with what we needed to do and what would work out the best. He came up with the idea of using servo modules instead of motor, which made our movements more pricice. Eli was also one of the only people who knew how to code our machines. Finally, Sam was a mix between Eli and me. If needed, he could come up with ideas off the top of his head or build what Eli told him to build. The main thing that Sam created was the idea of using the teeter-totter to sort the heavy marbles from the small ones.  

 

Zach’s Experience  

 

Working in groups can be difficult. In school, students aren’t always able to create their own groups or decide who’s in it, but that’s how it’ll be in the real world as well. Mr. Claypool, the Engineering and Manufacturing teacher, had each of his students take an assessment on “CatMe” that had them answer a lot of questions such as grades, personality, and preferences. After he told us what our groups were, Claypool gave us a task to completely sort marbles.

My group consisted of Kace Kitchell, Nathan Troutman, and myself. When we got into our groups, we were slightly overwhelmed. The task at hand seemed too difficult for what we have learned so far. Unlike Bo’s group, my group didn’t have anyone who knew how to code, but that was something we could focus on later. First we watched videos of other marble sorters to get inspiration. A common theme that we saw over and over was using a flashlight and light sensor to differentiate the marbles. We decided to start building our sorter. The first task we started was separating the glass marble from the other marbles because it is larger. The process of doing this took much longer than it should have. It should have taken two days at most but it ended up taking two weeks because we had problems that we had to keep fixing. Most of the time just Kace and I worked on this project. One of my group members didn’t do much throughout the whole project.

After building the physical part of the project, we had to code. Being that I’m not graduating in a couple of weeks, I care more about my grades than either of my partners do. So I am the one that is trying to work on learning to code. It’s not easy but I’ve been getting a lot of help from Eli. This project is really stressful and I’m sick of working on it, but it’s fine.

 

Overview

This project has taught us both a lot about teamwork, especially when we do not get to pick our own groups. When groups are put together by an automated program that “thinks it knows what’s best,” most of the time there will be some kinks to work out. All in all the project is going well and we are about a week away from finishing the whole thing.

When doing group projects they can turn out disastrous or go very well. Mr. Claypool said “Hopefully the students saw it was an iterate process (a process that can be repeated) and used the design process.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Sorting Marbles”

  1. Jameson on May 21st, 2018 2:02 pm

    This seems like a really cool project. It would seem like a marble sorting machine would be pointless, but the process to building it appears to be quite difficult. The creativity that you have to use to design the contraption is very important. I wish I could come up with designs like this on my own. Nice article!

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