Recycling Bin First Stages of Testing

As you may have read in previous blog posts, my team and I have been building a recycling bin as part of an effort to make sustainability a part of our DNA. Since my last post, we have finished the prototype of our final product, hooked a Makey Makey device to it to count the number of times it will be used, and put it into Mr. Song’s Middle school classroom. We implemented it into the classroom at the very end of the day on Friday so the Middle Schoolers would come back from their long Columbus Day weekend and investigate it for the first time. When we checked on it at noon on Tuesday, it already had 13 uses! It felt pretty great that something you created with your own hands and ideas helping to make our school and our Earth, a better place. Today, Wednesday, October 14th, we did some interviews and checked up on our creation yet again. Our prototype, which now had 30 uses, was a great success, an interview with the custodial staff revealed that it wasn’t just helping solve the problem of recycling, it was helping the room be significantly cleaner. In response to this information, we asked what room was the dirtiest of all the middle school classrooms, and put the prototype to the test in there. We also interviewed Mr. Song, the math teacher who teaches in the original classroom, and he also said that the prototype has been a resounding success, it has sparked conversation between the students about what you can and can’t recycle and what the effects of recycling are. Although they are having these conversations, the custodial staff say that there are still items that they found in the bins that cannot be recycled. This is a big problem, it shows that the informative poster part of our prototype isn’t effective. Since people don’t take the time to read, we could have a button that you press that will activate a recording of someones voice, telling them what to recycle, then congratulating them for recycling, since the students we interviewed wanted a sort of interaction or reward for recycling with the prototype. In our pitch, we touched on that really well with a clip from Wall-E and the photoshopped picture of trash all over MVPS, however, that isn’t translating onto our poster or our prototype. Some next steps we are thinking of taking include, but not limited to, adding a student artwork competition component where hold an art competition and the best piece goes on all of our bins, creating a second prototype to collect two times the data, and revising our poster to make it more effective. I think our first couple days of testing went pretty spectacularly, but my group and I should really emphasize something that came up in an interview with Dr. Jones a couple of weeks ago, how does recycling effect middle school students and why should they care about recycling? Since our prototype proved so successful, with a little changing to our prototype, I want to put one of these in every room on the MVPS campus!

The inside of the then uncompleted prototype
The inside of the then uncompleted prototype
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Hooking up the Makey Makey to the prototype
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Carrying the prototype to the middle school

Maker Faire Atlanta 2015

Maker Faire from the stands
Maker Faire from the stands

A couple of weeks ago, my mom pointed out an interesting event that was taking place in Decatur and asked if my sister and I wanted to go. The 2015 Atlanta Maker Faire was held last weekend — it’s a family friendly showcase of invention, creativity, resourcefulness, and innovation. People from all trades host booths to showcase new strategies, cool inventions, and overall interesting stuff, new or not. They also network with like minded individuals to expand their own understanding as well as ‘share the well.’

At the Maker Faire, I met so many interesting people, including Mr. Stan Berry of the Gwinett Experimental Aircraft Association who told us about a program for teens at Lawrenceville airport that lets you build and fly your own airplane and take flying lessons for free on Saturdays.

The program where you build your own airplane information
The program where you build your own airplane information
A boy in a handmade gyrocopter that is fully operational
A boy in a handmade gyrocopter that is fully operational

The Google booth fascinated me and, judging by the crowd, tons of other people. They had all sorts of circuit boards and hacking tools. They also had a bunch of Google phones that when placed in cardboard Google glasses created a virtual experience for you to enjoy. My virtual experience was a roller coaster ride — my brain could feel going up and up and then a sudden drop. This is really cool because even when I clearly know I am not on that roller coaster, my brain still feels like it is and makes my body reacted to all the drops even though they weren’t real. I experienced VR (virtual reality) for the first time in August at Samsung’s booth at Lollapalooza, a music festival in Chicago. Samsung’s experience was more interactive, let you spin in your seat and look around, while Google’s offering at Maker Faire was just watching a video up close.

Another great guy I met was Adam Mangone, a local startup expert and entrepreneur who was filling in for his wife at the Innovation in Action booth. Innovation In Action is a project based design thinking training program for Atlanta high school students. If you have the weekend free, I highly recommend their event at Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation on November 14 and 15.  High school students will get a chance to participate in a real world design thinking challenge (or competition) either with a group of friends or strangers or just yourself. Groups will bring a design problem with them or choose to solve a problem for one of the corporate sponsors. The task is to find a solution, prototype it, and present it to a group of judges. It sounds exciting and I plan to convince some of my iDiploma friends to join me in November

Information for the Innovation In Action event
Information for the Innovation In Action event

I also saw a group who came up with all sorts of creative designs for bicycles. They had everything from couch bikes, to bikes with a welded sculpture of a fish around you as you drove. I didn’t get to try out the bikes as the line was very long, but it looked pretty fun and intriguing.

A very comfortable recliner hacked to fit on a bike
A very comfortable recliner hacked to fit on a bike

Finally, for all you drone fans out there, I met Marcy and JC who told us about the F3 Expo. The F3 Expo is the place to go in November (same weekend as Innovation in Action’s design challenge) to see real drone races and drone acrobatics where some of the drones will fly up to 80 mph. Marcy and JC introduced us to “hacking” drones, taking regular drone parts and manipulating them to fly faster, achieve new heights, and can be rebuilt easily when they crash (they always crash).

If you are on the fence about visiting the Maker Faire next year, I 100% recommend that you go to this very fun and fascinating event and work up the courage to talk to the people running the booths who are so friendly and knowledgable.