The sight of smiling Science Hill students testing their 3D printed rubber band powered paddleboats is encouraging. But the cooler undercurrents are the skills the Science Hill students are learning in their Architecture, Engineering and Design class that are helping them speed away from their peers as they enter college.
Students in an Architecture, Engineering and Design III class taught by Patty Beuris were given the task of designing a rubber band powered paddleboat from scratch. The students started by drafting their ideas on paper before they designed them on the computer with a 3D modeling program called SolidWorks and ultimately used those models to print tangible 3D boats they are planning to race.
“It’s a fun way to allow them to come up with their own design ideas and watch their imaginations come to life, literally,” said Beuris, who is in her seventh year of teaching at Science Hill and has almost 20 years of experience in the classroom. “The training they get from the things we do in here will really help them when they get to college, because they will be using some of the same programs.”
Beuris didn’t give any restrictions as far as size, but students had to make sure that they could print their boat pieces from a conventional sized 3D printer. Seven students had an opportunity to create their own watercrafts and their sizes and shapes all differed.
“I think that everyone has learned something, through the printing process, about their design and what may or may not work,” Beuris said.
But students only smiled when they were asked if they had been sharing those lessons with their classmates and competitors.
“It depends,” one student said.
Science Hill senior Clayton Jones is in his fourth semester of Beuris’ class. His boat design was modeled after a pontoon scheme. He said he has learned a lot through the activity and noted it is one of his favorite projects he’s ever done in class.
“It’s completely different, because you are applying it to something real instead of just on a piece of paper or on a computer,” Jones said.
Jones is weighing his college options and may major in engineering, but he has already learned invaluable lessons.
“These classes are a lot of fun, even though it is difficult to design all this stuff. But it is a lot of fun to see what you do and how it works,” Jones said. “From drawing out the concept, to 3D printing it and then putting it in the water for the first time and seeing what happens.”
Science Hill senior Jesse Chapman has already decided that he will be pursuing a career in engineering, which is why he is enrolled in Beuris’ class.
“I’m going to be an engineer, so I wanted to take it for the design aspect and be able to learn how to design certain parts and put them together into an actual object,” Chapman said.
Chapman modeled his boat design after a speedboat with a single rubber band connected to the front of the boat and the rear-propeller. He said he thought about what boats may be fast, which ultimately allowed him to settle on a model that looked more like a speed boat than any of his competitors.
“I thought, if it already works, then you might as well use it,” Chapman said.
Students can take their first architecture, engineering and design class as a freshman, but students are encouraged to have a solid grasp of math before they attempt to take the class. The first project in which Beuris’ students partake is learning to draw a straight line, before they spend the next nine weeks learning manual techniques.
Beuris said having a solid foundation of skills is extremely important.
“You’re using all kinds of logic, analytical and math skills, and all of that flows into a constant thought process when you are designing a mechanical part or even a building,” Beuris said. “So it can get intense.”
That solid foundation could lead to a bright future, according to Chapman.
“It helped me realize that I liked engineering,” he said.