Last week, the students had their first challenging mechanical obstacle. Two of the RC cars had old motors that were not performing at optimal performance, and another car had a lower control arm that was on the brink of breaking. The students knew it was possible to take these parts off and replace them but had never done anything like it before. They also did not know how many steps there to complete these tasks. One of the best part was the trial and error that the students experienced. Even though all the car parts looked in the correct place, the exact location of parts does matter and if a gear or screw is off by a centimeter or two, the car won’t run properly. Both cars that had the motors changed made a loud screeching sound when they misaligned gears tried to grip on each other, one of the motors even produced sparks. One of the students said, “I knew these cars were complicated but not this complicated. I thought we would have been done in one hour but I guess not.” I am glad they have experienced that activity because that is what engineering is. They saw a problem, brainstormed how to fix it, attempted to fix it, thought they fixed it, and then fixed it again successfully.
The students don’t only deal with the cars though; they also deal with business topics. This week they learned what a Gantt Chart is and how it works. They made one for a day or two of their summer days. Many struggled because they have a lot on their plate and had to figure out how to organize it, but they all thought it was an interesting activity. Another one of my favorite moments of program so far was when the students started planning our final showcase which will take place August 10th, 2017. The students had to brainstorm ideas of how we could attract the community to come see what they have accomplished and learned. Even though it was quite hectic with ideas being thrown onto the board every second, I feel like they want to make an impact and show that no matter where in Chicago you are located, something great is being accomplished by students.
Written By: Uzziel Fernandez