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Old February 22nd, 2018, 05:06 PM   #16
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Too many responses to quote individually but let me simply say I am so thankful for the overwhelming response to this thread. You guys are tops!

I did check with the teacher and discovered that there will be multiple groups of kids at various "stations", so I will interact with smaller groups but for less time than originally thought (maybe 15 minutes each?). That resolves the "attention span" quandary but it also means figuring out what will have the most impact. Glad I have a couple months to prepare!
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Old February 22nd, 2018, 06:00 PM   #17
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Let us know how it goes.
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Old February 22nd, 2018, 09:31 PM   #18

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My suggestion would be to put a small goal post on a stepper driven linear actuator. Get them to throw a ball through the posts, but use a sensor to detect the ball and move the posts sideways, so it's impossible to do at throwing speed.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 11:43 AM   #19
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The STEM Day event was this past Friday and it turned out quite well. The kids were from grades K-4, split up into over a dozen groups, roughly 8-12 per group. Each group had 15-20 minutes at my session.

Given these constraints, I developed two small interactive projects:
1. Using six flat wood shims and four 2" squares of steel bar stock, the kids were challenged to build the longest possible span between two pint sized plastic containers (bottom side up). The bridge could ONLY touch the plastic containers, no support from the table, floor or body parts!

2. Building on Jaden's suggestion, I developed a simple counting program with CompactLogix/PanelView Plus test kit provided by my local A-B distributor. First, I showed them different proximity & photo sensors in use and we talked about when/why each type is used. Next, I placed the photo eye about a foot off the ground and had the kids pass through the beam one at a time. They noticed the count was double, because it sensed each of their legs individually, so we discussed why this happened. Then I added an off delay to the program and showed how this eliminated the double counts.

There were really good questions & observations from some of the kids - I'm confident there are at least a few future engineers/technicians in the bunch! Overall, it was a great experience and I'm already thinking about plans for next year's presentation. I would encourage any of you with a teacher's heart and an opportunity to share with the next generation to take advantage of any available invitation.

Thanks again for all of your input!
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Old May 7th, 2018, 03:03 PM   #20
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Glad it went well for you. I did a similar thing at my grandson's 4th grade class back in March. Theirs was called a "Career Day "and I put on a demonstration for a career in engineering. I used a PLC and HMI setup with some flashing lights and buzzers, along with some small motors for effect. I did however, show my age, when I told them I wrote the "program" for the PLC.

Kids these days don't "program". They "code".

Anyway, one kid said it was the coolest thing he'd seen all day, and I was competing against the local utility company who was given rides up in a bucket truck.
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