2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge: Build a Marble Machine!
Objective: To build a machine that could sort large plastic spheres from small ones as accurately and quickly as possible with only these materials: paper, popsicle sticks and plastic cups. For every piece of material you use, you lose some points, so try and use as little as possible!
What we did: We brainstormed different ideas until we came across a rough idea of the machine in the picture, our end result. Our machine uses gravity to sort the spheres, no motors aloud! You pour the marbles into the funnel on the top, and as the marbles roll down the little highway, the small spheres fall through the holes and down the ramp to cup B, while the big ones roll down the whole length and fall onto the other ramp and into cup A! As you can see, our machine is entirely paper. We used all paper because if you use paper, less points are deducted than if you use plastic cups. (Cups A and B don't count, neither does the glue or tape you are allowed to use.) Popsicle sticks have less points deducted than paper, but if you add up all the popsicle sticks you need to make a proper frame, you might as well use paper!
Results: We learned a lot of lessons from this exercise. I had no idea that the angle of the little highway was so important to the accuracy of our machine! We had to try again and again to get sort of the right incline. By the end, when we tested our machine with a stop watch, we realized that accuracy is more important than speed when it came to points. We clocked in at 6 seconds, and with everything deducted and added, our total points was about 9000. All in all, it was a super fun science experiment, and I learned lots from it! Thanks Fluor for the challenge!