By Izabella Matheson
With the Make-o-rama fast approaching, I knew the time had come to join a group project, since I had no design ideas myself. I browsed the projects being worked on by the other groups and found myself particularly drawn to one group’s idea- it was called a Marble Run. The purpose of the project was to create an intricate, all wooden structure that a marble could roll down, providing entertainment to people of all ages. It was to be modeled after the classic wooden marble runs that have been around for decades, bringing simple joy their owners.
I asked the two project designers, Cloa Glass and Elayna Middleton, if I could join the group, and they welcomed me. Another classmate and friend of mine, Erin Nolan, also joined in on the project. We immediately got to work designing the Marble Run, roughly sketching how we planned to build it and determining the measurements and necessary supplies. First, with the permission of Ms. Sauter, we ordered a bag of marbles because, well, they seemed fairly important in the construction of a marble run.
We had just laid out the plywood we were going to use on the table and were watching a video that displayed and demonstrated a huge, swirling marble run made completely by a 3D printer in awe. As we sat, eyes glued to the screen of our iPad, watching the marble twist and turn down the giant contraption, Ms. Sauter approached us. She, too, had been paying attention to the video, she informed us, in amazement, and suggested that we incorporate 3D printing into our design, as well.
Cloa, Elayna, Erin, and I considered this. Cloa and Elayna’s original idea had been to keep the marble run strictly wooden, very similar to its classic design. At first, none of us were enthused by the idea of making part of our design 3D printed, but upon further speculation, we realized it might actually be beneficial to include some 3D printed parts. That way, our marble run could combine both elements of its classic design, and a new, modernized innovation. After all, the Make-o-Rama is all about exploring new possibilities in designing and creating.
As of now, we have not yet completed our marble run, but we are steadily making progress. We have already 3D printed a spiral for the marble to go down and have also began constructing the wooden base of the track. We plan to 3D print a couple more pieces to add onto the wood to emphasize the difference between the newer and older design.
Through this project, I have come to realize and truly appreciate how greatly we have advanced in technology in such a short amount of time. I mean, to think that a 3D printer, a magic machine that takes online designs and brings them to life, exists is astonishing enough, but, the fact that I, an average middle schooler, have access to this piece of technology, blows my mind. It’s easy to find flaws in the technology our world has today, but when you pay attention to the good and beneficial things it has to offer, you will see we are truly lucky to have access to such amazing equipment and programs.