Our Energy Transfer Machine is called the “Fly Swatter”. We originally created this machine for the SECME competition at UCF in February 2023, where we placed second in the Elementary Division. The Fly Swatter has nine transfers and the way it used electricity is by using Lego Spike Prime. The final step is to squish a fake spider.
At the beginning of the machine, we used Lego Spike to add time to our machine because once we had it built, we discovered it was only about 30 seconds long. We programmed Spike to do a little dance for about 30 seconds in order to improve our precision score. This was also the way we included a battery into our machine. It also spelled out “SECME” because the original machine was built for the SEMCE competition. https://stem.ucf.edu/secme/
One of the biggest challenges at the beginning of the machine was making it so the tennis ball landed on the Hot Wheel launcher hard enough so that the car would go all the way down the stairs. We used a rod in a paper towel tube to shove the ball off of the box.
Our biggest challenge at making the middle of the machine was making it so the Hot Wheel car came out of the truck and into a cup attached to the pulleys so that the marble would roll out every time.
Our biggest challenge at the end was making it so the airplane flew and knocked over the dominoes. It took a total of 18 tries to make it all work.
At the very end there are dominoes that the airplane sets off. In the introductory segment, it looks a little bit different than our final run because we found that the setup we had when we were recording the introductory segment would fail. So we modified the domino set up so that the airplane would have larger target landing zone.
What We Learned
In doing this ETM, we learned many important things including teamwork, perseverance and problem solving. We had to work together as a team. Each team member was responsible for different areas of the machine and we had to work hard and communicate in order to get all the pieces of the machine to work together. We learned perseverance because after about 10 tries we wanted to give up. But, instead, we took a break and finished it the next day. We practiced our problem solving skills many times. For example, we figured out that we needed a creative way to add almost a full 30 seconds in order to improve the precision. We brainstormed ideas and then realized we could use the Spike robot to change the amount of time it ran. We also learned troubleshooting when one part of the machine failed on a trial run, we had to revise that particular part.
And we also learned that making Energy Transfer Machines is very, very, hard.