STEMcrafted is coming!

I know you love the New Gottland blog, I do too, but it’s time for me to expand into something a little more… ambitious.

After the response I got for the Cereal Box Clock and especially the many daily hits I get from all over the world for Make Geneva Wheels of Any Size I’ve decided to start a new blog – perhaps a new business – that is less focused on my personal art and musings and more focused on how art, science, and history can be useful and meaningful to everyone.

Think of it as a “liberal arts shop class for kids.”

I’ve been working furiously on this for the last six months and I’m finally ready to announce a launch date of February 28, 2014 July 2014 for STEMcrafted.

But you don’t have to wait! You can go to STEMcrafted.com right now and “Like” the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and check out my Pinterest boards. You could even subscribe to gentle, bubbling stream of email updates if you wanted to.

If you like New Gottland I think you’ll love STEMcrafted. See you there!

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Mood-O-Meter Math

Even as I posted it I wasn’t satisfied with my Mood-O-Meter post from a few days ago. I knew intuitively that in order for the gears to display all possible “moods” the ratio of eye expressions to mouth expressions must be in its simplest form but I couldn’t quite describe mathematically why this was the case. The images below attempt to convey this relationship between the expression ratio and the gear ratio both mathematically and visually.

Essentially, to find how many “moods” will be displayed the numerator is multiplied by the simplified denominator. If the ratio is already in its simplest form than this is obvious. For the ratio of 6:5 the viewable moods will be 6 x 5 = 30. But in the case of 6:4 which can be reduced to 3:2 the viewable moods will be 6 x 2 = 12. In the more extreme example a ratio of 4:4 is reduced to 1:1 so the viewable moods are limited to 4 x 1 = 4.

Now I’m satisfied.

Mood-O-Meter_math_18-15

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Mood-O-Meter

6 mouths x 5 pairs of eyes = 30 different moods.

6 mouths x 5 pairs of eyes = 30 different moods.


A few weeks ago I volunteered to lead a make and do session for a staff team building “fun day.” Two nights before the event I started prototyping this “Mood-O-Meter” which actually presented an interesting mathematical problem: what combination of gear teeth and multiples of eye and mouth expressions will display all possible mood options?

For example if I had two 12 tooth gears it wouldn’t matter if I put four eye expressions on one and four mouth expressions on the other because only four expressions out of a possible of sixteen would ever display.

If I printed four expressions on one 12 tooth gear and three on the other this would be even worse as only one mood would be displayed. The other eleven options would always be out of sync.

I settled upon a 18 tooth and 15 tooth with six eye expressions and five mouth expressions respectively to produce 30 individual moods.

My colleagues at Texas Performing Arts cutting out gears to make their Mood-O-Meters. They may have lacked the exuberance of my elementary aged students but when they meshed their gears for the first time they were positively giddy.

My colleagues at Texas Performing Arts cutting out gears to make their Mood-O-Meters. They may have lacked the exuberance of my elementary aged students but when they meshed their gears for the first time they were positively giddy.

Gears and Gravity: Finished Clocks (Day 13)

All eight clocks on display for the final day of camp.

All eight clocks on display for the final day of camp.

Wow, took me long enough to post this. The last day of DEEP camp on June 28 and I learned so much from my students that I’ve been completely absorbed in revising the clock design that I haven’t taken time to post the photos of my student’s truly excellent work. Can’t wait for next year.

The video below shows six cardboard clocks running (mostly) all at once. What a lovely sound.

The recent purchases of a large shoe order and a new vacuum turned out to be quite helpful to the class.

The recent purchases of a large shoe order and a new vacuum turned out to be quite helpful to the class.

Parents and students watch the closing ceremony and show while the clocks wait to be taken home.

Parents and students watch the closing ceremony and show while the clocks wait to be taken home.

The escape wheel reads: "Genius is eternal patience." – Michelangelo

The escape wheel reads: “Genius is eternal patience.” – Michelangelo

The escape wheel read: "Play is the highest form of research." – Albert Einstein

The escape wheel read: “Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Gears and Gravity, Day 7: Gluing Wheels to Arbors

In standard clock construction a clock wheel (aka: gear) is attached to an arbor and the arbor in turn is attached to a pivot. The same methods apply to the Cereal Box Clock except the wheels and arbors are made of paper and the pivots are wood.

Hot glue helps the wheel go round.

Hot glue helps the wheel go round.

Gears and Gravity, Day 6: Wheel Cutting

Trimming the outer edge of the Hour Wheel.

Trimming the outer edge of the Hour Wheel.

Using flush jaw wire cutters to cut wheel teeth is methodical yet enjoyable work.

Using flush jaw wire cutters to cut wheel teeth is methodical yet enjoyable work.

Using a "Japanese" pull saw to cut arbor material. These saw work like butter.

Using a “Japanese” pull saw to cut arbor material. These saw work like butter.

Using a pull saw to cut dowels for pivots. These saws are so sharp that some students could cut through a dowel in one pull!

Using a pull saw to cut dowels for pivots. These saws are so sharp that some students could cut through a dowel in one pull!

Gears and Gravity, Day 5: Pinion Assembly

Assembling pinions is a lot of work and all of the students worked hard. Three eight leaf pinions are required for each clock.

The drilled holes are a little undersized so we must use this very sophisticated pointy stick to increase the diameter.

The drilled holes are a little undersized so we must use this very sophisticated pointy stick to increase the diameter.

Five of eight pins inserted.

Five of eight pins inserted.

They don't have to be straight.

They don’t have to be straight.

Little smears of hot glue hold the pins in place.

Little smears of hot glue hold the pins in place.

Love the pink hot glue guns.

Love the pink hot glue guns.