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Engineering Concepts Assignments

April 24, 2017

posted Apr 24, 2017, 8:26 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Apr 27, 2017, 6:43 AM ]

We are winding down class time towards the end of the semester, and class time will become a little dicey......

With that said, we will have one more quiz in class next Monday, May1st. on the terms from this quizlet   

These terms will be on the final for this class, along with the stuff we did with gears earlier in the semester.

As I said last week, we will work on Assemblies in Autodesk Inventor for those of you moving on to Mr. Reilly's class next year.

Here is a good overview from UC San Diego on the process   University of California - San Diego Assemblies in Inventor

April 19th, 2017

posted Apr 19, 2017, 8:16 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated May 5, 2017, 4:50 AM ]

Your performance final in this class will be your portfolio that I know you all have updated and ready to go.
The portfolio must contain all projects from last semester and the following projects from this semester.
  • First Robotics Steamworks Robot design plan
  • Smash Brother/Relay for Life Site design 
  • the Publix $2 STEM Challenge
  • the Tabletop Hovercraft video 
  • the actual full-sized Hovercraft 
  • Spring CDAT projects
Those of you that did alternative assignments (Science Fair, Makerfest, other alternative assignments) should include them on your portfolio page.

Remember, explain the project, the parameters, the challenges you encountered, and how you overcame the challenges.

You will be marked off for just saying "we built a hovercraft"  You need to fully explain what was going on and what happened.

Next week, we will do some Autodesk Inventor exercises on how to do assemblies that will be applicable for next year's Engineering Applications class.

March 15th, 2017 - Hovercraft Construction

posted Mar 15, 2017, 4:37 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Mar 22, 2017, 7:59 AM ]


Bring your group materials in and get started on this construction in class!!

It's only $12.83 for the piece of wood that you need,
split between 3-4 people that's a $2.13 or less per person

I'll even give you the link

Should be able to lift several adults!


ADULT SUPERVISION REQUIRED! Don't let little kids play alone with this device.

  • To be safest, operate the hovercraft in a small classroom. (In the school gym adults must control it, since it can get going too fast!)

  • Climb aboard carefully, since the thing is darned slippery. Or climb aboard BEFORE turning on the blower

  • Bystanders should watch their feet, since the edge of the moving board can give stubbed toes. (WEAR SHOES!!)

  • Don't push it too fast, and remember how to stop it quickly: yank the leaf blower out of its hole.

  • Don't jump off it while it's moving, or you'll launch it at high speed in an unexpected direction (it could crash into somebody's feet.)

  • Don't remove the leaf blower suddenly while it's moving fast, because the hovercraft will stop, but the passengers will keep going... fast!

  • SUGGESTION: attach a long rope to the hovercraft, and let it trail behind. That way it can be grabbed if it starts going too fast in the wrong direction. Even better: use an AC-powered leaf blower or shopvac, and have an adult remain near the wall outlet. If the hovercraft moves too fast, yank the power plug to put on the "brakes." Use this only in emergencies, since the passengers will fly off when the hovercraft suddenly halts.



Cut out your plywood disk. You can leave it square, or experiment with other shapes instead of round, but the sharp corners can hurt people. Round is best for safety.

Drill a 5/16in hole in the exact center, and make sure that the 2in bolt easily passes through it.

NOTE: people tell me that you can avoid using a big bolt. Instead, fasten down the small plastic disk with several short wood screws. This is a big improvement! Kids sitting on the hovercraft won't get poked in the butt anymore by that big bolt sticking up.

Make a hole in the plywood which exactly fits the end of your leaf blower or shopvac hose. This hole must be placed half way between the center of the disk and the edge, as shown below. It's a good idea to trace the hole in pencil on the wood (place the mouth of the leaf blower on the wood and trace around it.) It DOES NOT have to fit perfectly. Later you can seal any leaks with duct tape. Or just let it leak. The hose should be flush with the bottom surface (don't let it stick out or the floor will block the air flow.)



Next, lay your plywood disk on the center of your large plastic sheet. Fold the edges of the sheet up over the plywood, then use the staplegun to staple it to the top of the plywood disk. Put a staple about every 4 inches. The plastic should be tight against the wood, but don't pull it TOO tight or the plastic will tear loose when inflated. When finished, you can cut off the excess plastic. If you wish, used duct tape to tape the edge of the plastic down to make it look nice. From above, it should look like this:



Poke a hole in the center of the coffee can lid. Attach it to the bottom of the hovercraft as shown below. It goes over the plastic sheet. It pins the plastic sheet firmly against the plywood. (The coffee can lid forms the "donut hole" when the leaf blower slightly inflates the plastic into a "donut" shape.)



Use your razor knife to cut six vent holes in the plastic as shown below. They should be about 2in diameter. They must be placed within a few inches of the coffee can lid. Space them out so that there is plenty of plastic between each of them. But if they are too far away from the center, they will become plugged when the plastic sheet lays flat against the floor. If the plastic between the holes is too narrow, it will tear. If you wish, reinforce the thin necks of plastic between the holes using a couple of layers of duct tape.



Flip your hovercraft over so the plastic sheet is on the bottom. Place it on a smooth floor. Stick the leaf blower into the hole and turn it on. The plastic on the bottom should inflate. If it does not, lift the plywood up a bit to let the air get in and inflate the "skirt." The hovercraft will lift up slightly and start gliding around.


If it doesn't work, first read the above article again to see if you missed anything.

Always make sure to lift the wood disk up a few inches while the blower is running. If the disk stays flat against the floor, then the air can't get out of the blower, and the plastic sheet will never inflate.

When you turn it on for the very first time, run it on a smooth shiney floor such as linoleum or a wooden Gym floor. Try other kinds of rough floors and rugs later, after you know it works. Smooth dirt works OK, but it makes a big cloud of dust. I've never tried it on water.

If too much air is leaking from the around the leaf blower, add some temporary duct tape at the point where the nozzle goes into the hole in the wood.

Still no luck? Maybe your plastic sheet is too loose. Turn the hovercraft up on edge and turn on the blower. The plastic sheet should inflate, and it should lift up from the wood by only three or four inches. If the sheet is too tight then it will tear loose from the staples. But if it's too loose it will form a floppy bag and won't glide around.

DON'T use a hair blow-dryer, it won't work. You need either a "Shopvac"-style vacuum cleaner, or a lawn leaf blower. If you use a Shopvac, remove the dust bag and use the Shopvac's blower outlet (the hovercraft needs pressure, not suction!)


The air inflates the plastic which pushes upon the floor and provides a ground-hugging "skirt." This lifts the entire hovercraft. The coffee-can lid provides "strain relief" for the plastic sheet, so that the inflated plastic doesn't tear loose from the center. The coffee can lid also lifts up the plastic so air can escape through the vent holes and pressurize the center donut-hole. The air then leaks along the floor and out from the edges of the hovercraft. This creates an "Air Film Bearing" which has very low friction. The plastic isn't touching the floor. Instead it is riding on a thin layer or "film" which is made out of air. Climb aboard!

This hovercraft can support many hundreds of pounds. It works best on very smooth surfaces (linoleum, or school gym floor.)


if you want to experiment, maybe you could try four or five blow-dryers with their heat turned off. I know that a single blow-dryer doesn't supply enough wind, but several blow-dryers might do the job. Also, think of ways to drive your hovercraft forwards. Maybe a big fan would work. (I KNOW that a couple of CO2 fire extinquishers work well as rocket propulsion, but they're too dangerous for kids to use.


Lift it up at the start, otherwise the bag might not inflate.

March 8th, 2017

posted Mar 7, 2017, 6:36 PM by Mr Becker   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 6:39 PM ]

Hey everyone.

Your ideas and materials list are due for the Relay for Life set design.  I hopefully will be passing them on to Ms. Weetman next week so we can schedule construction.

While we wait,  I mentioned in class that we could build an actual 1-person hovercraft that we could run up and down the hallway.

In order to do this, we need you to: 

Bring in a Plywood Sheet, 3ft or 4ft square, 3/8in or 1/2in thick. (one per group)
Borrow an electric leaf blower (one per group) for a couple weeks.

I would like to start this next week, so lets see what we can do.

For this week, I will be out on Thursday to attend the TSA Conference at UGA in Athens.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to get some practice in and build a tabletop hovercraft using materials that will be provided.

You must finish during your class period and have tape your craft with your phone. You should have your craft disassembled by the end of class so the next class may re use the computer fans.
Here are some examples of what you can do:

Computer Fan Hovercraft.mp4

Hover-craft made from cpu fans‎.mp4

Build your own, tape it...... include your photo and description on your portfolio site ( I will be checking)

February 27th - March 3rd

posted Feb 27, 2017, 8:53 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Mar 1, 2017, 5:19 AM ]

We will be presenting our ideas to Ms. Weetman this week, so this is the time to pull it together.

You should be pretty set on your construction ideas now,  lets finalize those and create a budget.  
Be as detailed as possible for your budget items and amounts (both cost and materials count).  

Be specific as possible..... lets avoid misunderstandings an assumptions like these people ran into.

Every group needs to hand in a plan, no submission, no grade (but a NTI, that will kill your GPA)

Be sure to add 20% to your list to cover little oops moments.

We will synthesize the plans between classes to come up with one that we will present to Relay for Life for construction. 

February 8-13

posted Feb 9, 2017, 5:42 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Feb 9, 2017, 6:02 AM ]


As some of you know, we are going to be having a Makerfest soon in downtown Sugar Hill.

What you need to do is come up with a STEM related activity (you are in the STEM program after all) that you could host at a booth in the city park.

Here are some parameters:

  • Not extremely messy, and NO GLITTER. It gets everywhere.

  • Your target demographic is 8- 13 years old

  • As we said before, must be STEM related

  • Your activity must be created from readily available products from Publix , one of our sponsors

  • You must have typed out, clear instructions on how to make/play you activity, and your materials. Remember, you are dealing with Elementary and Middle School students, every things needs to be spelled out clearly and properly.

  • And finally, your raw materials must not cost more than $2.00…...let me spell it out, NO MORE THAN TWO DOLLARS.

Use your Engineering Process…… explore, design, create, test, refine. Have others do your activity, and be receptive & responsive to feedback.

The best projects will be considered for actual use in the Sugar Hill Publix store and at the Maker Fest!!

You will present your activity/game to our liaison with Publix on MONDAY, Feb.13th. Be Prepared!!!!

January 27th thru January 31st

posted Jan 25, 2017, 2:21 PM by Mr Becker   [ updated Jan 25, 2017, 2:28 PM ]

Due to a death in the family,  I will be out a few days next week.

By now you should have built your models with the Fischer-Techik sets. 

Please disassemble what you have built, and neatly place the parts back into the correct the boxes.  

Please work together to get the correct number of parts into each box, refer to the inventory on the side of the box.

Here is a worksheet to work thru on gear ratio's.  Use the materials on my website, the videos, and the internet to help   
Please complete individually and turn in during class on February 2nd and 3rd.

To finish up our work on gears,  what exactly are they made of?  What materials are suited for what purpose?

It just so happens I have a power point to answer those very questions.  This material will be on the quiz.

Materials for gear production

You WILL be having a quiz on gears, materials they are made, and gear ratio's on February 2 & 3rd respectfully

January 23rd

posted Jan 22, 2017, 9:17 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Jan 25, 2017, 2:23 PM ]

Those of you that have not submitted your 1st Robotics assignment to me need to get them in........ I'm not going to chase you around.

That said, we will move onto gears.

Gears are in just about everything that has spinning parts. 

 Car engines and transmissions contain lots of gears. If you ever open up a VCR and look inside, you will see it is full of gears. 

Wind-up, grandfather, analog wrist watches and pendulum clocks contain plenty of gears, especially if they have bells or chimes.

Gears are everywhere where there are engines and motors producing rotational motion.

Gears are generally used for one of four different reasons:

  1. To reverse the direction of rotation
  2. To increase or decrease the speed of rotation
  3. To move rotational motion to a different axis
  4. To keep the rotation of two axis synchronized
Gears come in many shapes and configurations.  Lets take a look at some of the more common types.   


Here is a fairly long video that goes into  greater detail

Gear Types and characteristics ‎[360p]‎.mp4

Gears and Gear Ratios

In mechanical engineering, a gear ratio is a direct measure of the ratio of the rotational speeds of two or more interlocking gears.
As a general rule, when dealing with two gears, if the drive gear (the one directly receiving rotational force from the engine, motor, etc.) is bigger than the driven gear, the latter will turn more quickly, and vice versa.

Here is a breakdown from NC State Engineering School in Havelock, which explains this concept and how different configurations give you different results.  Try the problem at the bottom, and see how you do.   

Below are some simulations you can play around with to get a better feel for gears and gear ratios.

Try building this Simple Gear with the Fischer Technik set
Simple Gear Exercise

When you get it, move on to the Gearbox in Fischer Technik booklet. (page 25 of the color booklet)

January 9th, 2017

posted Jan 7, 2017, 2:30 PM by Mr Becker   [ updated Jan 19, 2017, 10:48 AM ]

Happy New Year!!


Saturday, January 6th began the new season of FIRST Robotics. This year's theme is Steampunk!


2017 FIRST Robotics Competition FIRST STEAMWORKS Kickoff Video.mp4


2017 FIRST Robotics Competition STEAMWORKS Game Animation - YouTube ‎[720p]‎.mp4

Lanier High School has signed up a team, Team 4509, the "Mechanical Bulls" and we are looking for your thoughts on design and functionality for our entry. 

 In fact, we highly encourage you to get involved and represent!!! (click this link)

Beginners are our priority, right after safety.  Winning competitions is cool, but learning and loving engineering is even cooler

 And there's $50 million in scholarships!!

This is a link to the Game page, which has all your resources, such as your kit of parts (KoP), game materials, playing field details, and the game & season manual.

Here are some videos to familiarize yourself with ...... watch them, and think of ways that you would approach this competition.  

           The Loading Stations   The Lifts   The Hoppers  The Boiler  Station Controls  In the Airship  The Alliance Station

                                            Loading Lanes                               The Ropes

Form your team, formulate a game strategy( how to score the most points) and a detailed construction and functionality plan, with construction timelines and construction responsibilities broken down per team member.  

Your will present your findings to the class on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 17th and 18th.  

Your designs and thoughts will be brought to the team for consideration ...... 

YOU are helping Lanier's Team 4509, the "Mechanical Bulls" compete in this competition!!



For the FIRST ® Robotics Competition, teams compete with up to 120-pound robots of their own design in this varsity Sport for the Mind, ™ combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology

UPDATE 12-7-2016

posted Dec 7, 2016, 5:24 AM by Mr Becker   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 7:38 AM ]

Your semester final in this class will be made up of 2 parts, both worth 10% each of your grade

1.     The quizzes we took during this semester will be combined into one test.  They will be the same exact questions.  
        The quizzes have been opened up on eClass for you to take as many times as you want for practice.  The actual test will be on the day your class          is scheduled for a final.

2.     Your portfolio should be up to date and include the projects we have done this semester (including the phone charge project).  Below is the rubric            to check what you have against what is required.  Most of you have been pretty good at keeping them up to date, but be aware, I will not accept             any changes after December 16th


Engineering Fall 2016 Final Portfolio Assignment

Due Date:  Dec. 16, absolutely no extension.

The goal: to create a finished website that will be your portfolio for all projects this past year, as well as a place for your future work.  It will not only host samples of each project, but it will also demonstrate the original principles of web design ( good color combinations, etc.) that we saw at the start of the year and we will review again to start this project.

This is your Performance Final, which means it is 10% of your average for the semester!

Technical Requirements:

  • **Note:  you do NOT have to use a template, in fact you probably should NOT use the CDAT templates.  Just have a website with your choice of colors, font, etc., to match the design you want.

  • A home page that welcomes the user to your portfolio, and summarizes your thoughts, reflections about your design and technology in general.  Also include any goals for yourself, and any way CDAT or your technology class has helped you towards those.  Include some type of graphic: a picture or artistic creation that represents you.

  • A page for each project you’ve done.  The page should include the following:

Grading (each shows the maximum points per part):

  • 10 points - Principles of design (C.A.R.P.)-see link above- and  good color scheme.

  • Home page

    • 5 points - Graphic

    • 5 points - Quality text about you, your CDAT and technology experience this semester, your reflections on design and technology and your goals (as mentioned above).

  • Each project page (we will review projects together to verify the list)

    • 2 points - Graphic

    • 6 points - Written Description of WHAT assignment was, WHAT you did to complete the assignment AND Personal Reflection

    • 2 points - Link to the project

  • Points will be deducted for poor spelling or grammar.

  • Points will be deducted for any use of materials you did not create and did not cite properly (put a website address of any pictures you “borrow”).


Most of you have already submitted a portfolio to start the year.  Before Dec.16, you should make this site “Public”.  You CAN build off of a previous portfolio!

Projects I expect to see on your Portfolio site:

  • Simple Machines
  • STEM Video
  • Egg drop Challenge
  • Cell Phone Charging
Feel free to add any other things we did in class ..... the more you have that is pertinent to this class on your site, the higher your grade potential.....

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