Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chair Design Activity

Our class had a limited amount of chairs. Since it was the summer we were able to borrow a few chairs from some of our other classrooms. However, we were still borrowing chairs which meant when another class needed them we would be short again. So we came up with the idea of having the children design and build the chairs for the Studio.
We modified the Five to Thirty Minute Chair from AtFAB. We first scaled the chair size so that it would be appropriate for our children. We then added a few customizable features. First we added handles with holes of various geometric shapes. We then added a few additional choices for the geometry of the arch which creates the chair legs.
When the children came in to the Studio they were faced with a problem. There were not enough chairs for them to sit on. We asked them if they thought we could make our own chairs. This lead to a discussion about the various parts of a chair that we would need (4 legs, 1 seat, 1 seat back). We had precut the parts of a scaled down cardboard version of the chair designs on our laser cutter, with more than enough of each piece so that every child could design their own unique chair.
After each child designed their own chair, and created a cardboard model, they worked in groups of four or five to design a chair for the class. We had a group discussion to determine how much larger the wooden pieces had to be. After using the cardboard chair models to compare with one of the chairs we were borrowing from the other classrooms, we determined that three of the small cardboard chairs equaled one of the larger chairs. This activity was great to demonstrate how non-standard units of measurement are also useful in everyday problem-solving. This meant we had to cut our pieces three times larger than the cardboard pieces. We also determined that cardboard may not be strong enough to cary our weight, and so we would need to make our pieces out of wood. We then used our Shopbot Desktop to cut out each of the pieces. The children had the opportunity to sand, assemble, and paint the chairs. Now the other classrooms want to borrow chairs from us.

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